How To Teach Financial Literacy

  • Dina Shoman
  • October 07, 2016
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Growing up in a family of bankers, I was always surrounded by talk about money, investing and credit—but it never made sense to me. I used to keep looking at the clock, counting down the seconds until I could escape to play soccer with the boys, or to get lost in one of my exciting Nancy Drew detective mysteries.

Truthfully, finance isn’t the most engaging topic for most adults, let alone young girls. And even though I majored in it in undergrad and was exposed to it by both my dad and grandfather, very little actually stuck with me. I was just hearing words, and didn’t really see how much it could benefit me as a life skill.

Luckily I chose to continue my financial education as an adult, working in banking for 6 years, and realized how entrenched it is in people’s lives without them knowing it… and I can’t help but think: “What if I had understood all this sooner?”

I wouldn’t call myself a complete expert in finance – it is, after all, an ever-evolving subject matter… but I do value money, and I do value knowing basic concepts that are helping me navigate the world today, especially as I embarked on my own quest: creating inherQuests.

Experiential Learning is Learning by Doing, Reflecting and Applying in Real Life

I wanted girls to have fun while learning about basic financial concepts—so much fun that they wouldn’t recognize it as traditional learning. I remember how exciting it was as a child to play games with friends, especially the ones we created ourselves. One in particular had us designing clues that led to where more clues were hidden, and finally to a big prize at the end. It was fun because we got to use our creativity and were so intrigued to solve problems and face challenges. I wanted to model our first product as closely as possible to this concept, which I found out actually exists: experiential learning, or “learning by doing.”

Imagine a kindergarten girl learning about pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. She can have it explained to her that these items are called coins and that each coin has a value, and that the coins, once added up, can be exchanged for something called dollars… OR, she can play a game that gives her a chance to touch the coins, see how they are different, and experience grouping them together in a way that will stay with her much longer than a basic lesson without an experience.

“Experiential learning is both active and reflective, but more importantly, it’s real life stuff.”

Experiential learning is both active and reflective, but more importantly, it’s real life stuff. What really sets it apart, and makes it so vital for learning financial concepts, is the opportunity for engaging in a shared experience and then using that experience as the basis for reflection. The reflection piece is important because it makes the learning personal and concrete, leading to a deeper understanding of how the learning can be used in real life and embedding the learning in the mind.

Girls CAN Learn About Money

If you’re like me and pretty much anyone else in the world, there’s a good chance you have made some financial mistakes, whether big or small. And no matter our individual financial histories and family backgrounds, women all have this in common: we know that given the right tools, knowledge and skills, and by being able to build a solid financial base, we will feel empowered to be able to create the life we want for ourselves and feel independent and strong enough to survive the storms that come our way. Not only that, we also want to give the same opportunities and more to our daughters.

Dina Shoman

Dina Shoman

Dina Shoman is the Founder and CEO of inherQuests, a financial education startup dedicated to empowering young girls. She was previously EVP of Branding and Board Member at Arab Bank, and is a Young Global Leader with the WEF.

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