Frederick County students learn lesson in financial literacy -- Gazette.Net


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Before last week, Allison Goldstein, 9, of New Market said she couldn’t remember the last time she had a piggybank or used it to save some of the $5 allowance she gets for doing her chores each week.

Now, after attending a financial-literacy program with her mom, Allison said she plans to save her money for toys, college and charitable donations.

“I learned that you should help people by raising money and saving,” she said.

Allison was one of about 50 children and parents who participated in Sprout, a free workshop designed to teach children basic financial skills, held on Feb. 6 at New Market Elementary School.

The program, created by Steve Schleupner of New Market, not only teaches children about basic money management, but how parents can help their children develop core financial habits.

“We are trying to help parents tackle the issue of financial literacy with their kids,” Schleupner said. “With financial literacy, it’s always deemed that it should start later, and I think it should be learned earlier.”

Schleupner, a financial planner with First Financial Group in Frederick, said that he started Sprout in April after noticing a trend in the financial habits in some of his clients.

“I noticed that they had some bad [financial habits], and they needed my help to correct them,” he said. “Some of the strategies that I would run with them, they would say: ‘That’s great. You should teach that to my kids.’ I saw the need for giving parents specific help with teaching their kids.”

During the program, the children were given a kit that contained four jars to decorate. The jars were each labeled with what the money inside would be used for: savings, household, charity and spending.

The children were also given money journals to keep track of their funds.

Parents were given dry-erase boards to create a responsibilities chart, which keeps track of the chores their children complete during the week.

Kathy Goldstein, 41, Allison’s mother, said she appreciates that the program shows children that money has different purposes besides spending.

“This teaches them that all your money is not yours,” she said. “I like that aspect.”

The New Market Elementary School program, which was sponsored by Families Plus and Woodsboro Bank, was the first Sprout workshop held so far.

Organizers will host the next workshop on Feb. 28 in Thurmont at Lewistown Elementary School at 11119 Hessong Bridge Road.

Schleupner said there are plans to offer the program at schools across the county.

Frederick County Public Schools is currently piloting the Sprout program to possibly be included as part of their financial-literacy education curriculum.

Eric Luers Phillips, the school system’s elementary social studies curriculum specialist, said fifth-graders at Sabillasville Elementary School are using the Sprout program as part of their curriculum this year.

“We’re looking to see if it can be something to use in the classroom as a resource...,” he said. “It could possibly be used in all of our schools, but that has not been determined yet.”

The Maryland State Board of Education requires all school systems to offer a financial-literacy program for students in the third through the 12th grades.

After the pilot is over, parents and the student’s teacher will give feedback on the program, Phillips said.

“Resources that we use in schools take time to develop it,” he said. “So far, the feedback that we are getting back from students is good....”

myoung@gazette.net