Consumer and financial literacy education is embedded in the Australian Curriculum. Although it features explicitly in the learning areas of maths, HASS, and numeracy, there are opportunities beyond these areas to teach students essential money skills.
Money as a context for learning across curriculum areas
Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum provides many new content elaborations that allow teachers to incorporate consumer and financial literacy into less traditional subject areas at all year levels.
Find fresh ways to explore a subject area by creating lessons that also enrich your students’ money skills. Use your own judgement about what concepts to cover and how best to meet the needs of your cohort.
Examples of how financial literacy can be used across subject areas
- Explore foreign currency and exchange rates.
- Plan and cost an overseas trip.
- Research the costs associated with preparing nutritious meals for a week.
- Understand the short-term and long-term costs associated with poor eating habits.
- Study how marketing and advertising impacts consumer choices.
- Create and drive a fundraising campaign.
- Investigate ways to minimise costs when developing a project plan.
- Develop a virtual supermarket, including product prices and specials.
- Work out the costs and create a budget for a school production.
- Manage and report on ticket sales for an event.
- Plan and cost a school garden.
- Explore the savings related to reusing and recycling.
See Moneysmart's lesson plans for more examples of how financial literacy can span various subject areas.
ACARA is also developing resources to support and familiarise teachers with the updated curriculum. The ACARA resources will continue to be released in stages and include work samples, curriculum connections and professional learning opportunities.
How to gauge your students' financial literacy
Work out your students' current understanding of money and financial concepts. This will help you design lessons that bring money to life in the classroom.
Get to know your students
Managing money day to day
- What kind of money decisions are your students making every day?
- Do they participate in money decisions at home? For example, food shopping, making plans for family activities or holidays.
- Do they purchase gifts for friends or family?
- Do they get pocket money, an allowance, or have they been gifted money?
- Do they have a part-time job or earn money from activities like babysitting?
Saving and spending
- Do your students have a bank account?
- Do they purchase things online?
- Do they understand the difference between 'needs' and 'wants'? Does this understanding inform their money choices?
- Are they saving up for something special?
- Do they understand what it means to shop around and how to compare prices?
- Do they have longer term money goals?
Consider individual learning needs
Depending on their age and grade level, you may want to test your students' understanding of key money concepts, vocabulary and jargon.
Most young children understand a range of concepts related to money. Generally, they have the capacity to:
- recognise numbers and coins
- know that things cost different amounts of money
- appreciate that money needs to be kept safe.
Older children understand, or are learning about, a range of concepts related to money including:
- the difference between needs and wants
- payment methods that don’t involve cash (e.g., debit cards and online payments)
- keeping track of spending, savings and borrowing.
Teenagers understand a range of concepts related to money, including:
- setting spending and saving priorities
- shopping online and using digital money
- the importance of protecting their personal information
- the importance of long-term planning
- the idea that money must be earned and is not an unlimited resource.
Find ways to share money stories
Discussing positive and negative money experiences with students is a way for them to learn about good choices and what can be done differently.
You could start by sharing some of your own money stories with your students.
- Did you get pocket money growing up? If so, how did you use it?
- What was your first experience earning money? How much did you make?
- Have your interactions with money changed over time? For example, are you making fewer cash payments?
- Do you have a money regret? For example, have you paid more than you should have for something?
How to plan meaningful lessons about money
Once you gauge where your students are in terms of their financial literacy, bring the planning to life.
A good financial literacy lesson might follow these steps.
1. Choose a theme that relates to your year group
Or formalise the financial learning through events already happening in the school community, such as a fund-raising activity or fete.
2. Decide on a clear purpose or objective for the lesson
For example, by the end of the lesson your students will have learnt how to calculate costs, do a budget, or understand how to compare data.
3. Introduce the topic
Using the example of a fete, you could discuss how the money from last year's fete was used. Or what changes you could make this time to make the fete more successful or profitable.
4. Lead to the main activity where your students 'engage', 'explore' and 'research'
Using the fete example, this could include:
- developing a budget for stalls at the fete
- creating a table or spreadsheet to compare the costs of setting up various stalls
- determining which stalls are more profitable and which ones contribute in other ways. For example, a jumping castle might profit little, but it brings people to the fete.
5. Debrief to share and discuss learnings
After a lesson, it is good practice to talk about what was discovered and learned. Even if the lesson didn't go to plan, you can still establish what the objective was and share why the lesson changed its pathway, especially when the whole class is involved.
More resources and support
There are many good resources to support the teaching of consumer and financial literacy. Search for renowned, trusted sites such as government departments and organisations (.gov.au) for tools and guides that can be downloaded safely.
For example, the ATO's Education Zone has online resources to help teach tax and superannuation in both primary and secondary schools.
If you need more confidence teaching financial literacy, or further support, explore the Ecstra Foundation's Talk Money. This free education campaign provides facilitator led workshops in financial literacy, in class or online for Years 5-10.
Interactive lessons using Moneysmart tools
You may choose to develop money lessons using interactive resources. Start with a collection of tools and calculators from Moneysmart.
Budget planner - Work out expenses over a week, a month or even a year.
Savings goals calculator - See how long it will take to reach a savings goals.
Rent vs buy calculator – Work out the real cost of renting electrical goods or furniture.
Credit card calculator - See how long it takes to pay off a credit card.
Compound interest calculator - See how compounding increases savings.
Investor toolkit – Learn the essentials of investing.