Second-Graders Learn About Money With ‘Kids’ Credit Union

Charlene Austin, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union's Director of Financial Education, talked with Lincoln Elementary School second graders about savings with their "Give a Hoot About Savings" program during the Kids' Credit Union.

Lincoln Elementary School is instilling healthy money habits in its second graders with the help of the Southern Chautauqua Credit Union’s Kids’ Credit Union (KCU). The credit union has visited Lincoln School once a month since October to meet with students to help them better understand the real-life issues of money and savings.

During the monthly lessons students learn how to: prioritize needs and wants, learn about goods and services, get to see what $10,000 looks like, fun facts about American currency, the history of money and trade, understanding the value of money, and identifying coin values and making change. All of these lessons are wrapped around a “fun” activity like coin stickers and necklaces or Shel Silverstein’s book “Smart” to keep the second graders’ attention. Students are encouraged to open their own KCU savings accounts. It is the hope of Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union that students use their savings to help achieve their dreams for the future. Each KCU member is asked to work toward the savings goal for his/her current age/grade level. The savings year runs from July 1 until June 30 to mimic the school year. Children may make deposits at any of the credit union branches or at school. Each child receives his or her own piggy bank to start saving at home.

The Southern Chautauqua Credit Union’s Kids’ Credit Union began in 2004 with the goal of helping kids save for the future. Since then, it has evolved into so much more than a savings program. What once started as an elementary program has expanded to a middle and high school program. The goal of the program is that Financial Education is something that everyone can benefit from at all stages in life. All students should be able to take individual responsibility for their personal economic well-being. The KCU financial literacy curriculum will help each individual gain the knowledge necessary to make financially responsible decisions.

“Financial literacy begins in childhood and continues throughout a person’s life. Instilling healthy money habits at a young age will strengthen their financial skills as an adult,” said Charlene Austin, Director of Financial Education at Southern Chautauqua Credit Union. “It is my hope that upon completion of the Kids’ Credit Union program, students will be confident in their ability to overcome personal financial challenges as they arise. The Kids’ Credit Union is a nonprofit program that offers financial education at NO COST to the school district.”

Miss Austin offers financial education lessons from 2nd- 7th grade students in nine school districts. As of 2016, Miss Austin presented 360 lessons to students and teens around the Chautauqua County area, which reached out to more than 2,000 students.