A fourth grade class at Edgecomb Eddy School is using a classroom economy system to teach students financial skills while motivating them to turn in homework and treat each other kindly.
Teacher Sarah Currier uses a program called My Classroom Economy, which provides guidelines for the system, but Currier and her students have added to their economy together.
In Currier’s class, students apply for jobs, ask for and write letters of recommendation, apply for loans, pay bills, and more. They learn how to make a budget, make scheduled payments, and save money for things they want.
“My students were excited and eager to start our classroom economy,” Currier said. “They love working with money, were excited about getting a job, and are very into working for the rewards and keeping track of and avoiding any fines.”
There is no list of jobs for students to choose from — it can be anything that suits the needs of the class. Job choices include librarian, messenger, horticulturist, news director, clerk, loan officer, and banker. Students write letters of recommendations for their classmates to practice their writing skills.
Students pay monthly rent for their desks with money earned from their jobs, and the program can be modified to include monthly payments that mimic utility bills.
“Students approach the loan officer if they need a loan to pay the monthly rent for their desk, need money to pay fines, or desire more money to spend at the auction,” Currier said. The class settled on a 10% interest rate for the loans, and students can pay in installments over one to three months.
“If a student is unable to make payments on their loan, they will meet with me to put together a plan to help them better earn and save,” Currier said.
The class holds an auction every month where the kids can spend some of the money they’ve earned. Currier accepts donations of small items from families who want to contribute, but students make most of the auction items.
“They are very creative as well as supportive of one another,” Currier said. “Most all of the items are made by the students in their after-school time.”
Students make frames for their drawings or paintings; knit and sew bags, pouches, and animals; create card games; make friendship bracelets; and more. Kids make money from the sale of items they make, and a percentage of the profit goes to the auction house fund.
Students can be fined, too, and receive bonuses. The class developed the guidelines together. Students can earn bonuses for things like good grades or turning in homework on time, and get fined for forgetting class materials at home, being dishonest, or being rude.
The My Classroom Economy program has a lot of flexibility, so Currier’s class can continue to make any adjustments they need.