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Financial Literacy in the Middle School

By Meggen Stockstill, Math Teacher and Middle School Math Department Chair

Many years ago, Mr. James Gapp and I taught a sixth grade math unit entitled “Math You Can Bank On.” The students “found” a job, made a budget, and wrote checks weekly for their various expenses. Fast forward to 2024: paper checks are rarely written, but learning the essentials of financial literacy is still an important component of a solid math education.

Proper money management and responsible financial decision-making are important life skills. Financial Literacy is normally offered as a high-school course, but many of its core principles are based on algebraic concepts that are taught in the Middle School at Harbor Day. This year, the Math Department is building a financial literacy curriculum as part of our math classes in the Middle School.

In fifth grade, our students are enjoying a Stock Market Project. After a parent presentation about how the stock market works, the students formed groups to invest in a small number of US companies. They developed investment strategies, bought stocks, and have been tracking their performance weekly. According to Mrs. Kelly, all the groups are performing positively, with the strongest portfolio currently at 130%!

The seventh grade continues and enhances the Stock Market Project. Student groups again select and invest in companies, but they do a more formal research process to justify their investment selections. Stock performance is analyzed and ultimately explained in a formal presentation to the class.

This year, a financial literacy curriculum is being added to the algebra and geometry classes at Harbor Day. Some topics that have been or will be studied are:
  • a history of our banking system
  • interest banks pay for deposits and charge for loans
  • credit cards/finance charges and debt
  • career choices, salaries, taxes, and take-home pay
  • making a budget 
  • purchasing basic necessities
  • cost of a car/financing
  • renting or buying a home and what it will actually cost
  • disposable income
  • investing your money
The goal of our financial literacy curriculum is for our students to develop an understanding and appreciation for what things actually cost and to begin to learn the tools they will need to succeed financially in today’s world. Our students have been enjoying this addition to our math classes and are very excited to learn that they ARE ACTUALLY going to use the math that we study!

Harbor Day School

3443 Pacific View Drive
Corona del Mar, CA 92625 Phone<title><script type="mce-text/javascript"> (function(a,e,c,f,g,h,b,d){var k={ak:"984895077",cl:"EfBCCP-Fv3UQ5ZzR1QM"};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[g]||(a[g]=k.ak);b=e.createElement(h);b.async=1;b.src="//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js";d=e.getElementsByTagName(h)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a[f]=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,k,d,null,new Date,e)};a[f]()})(window,document,"_googWcmImpl","_googWcmGet","_googWcmAk","script"); </script><head><body>1-949-640-1410<html></html></body></head><br><br><br>
Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.