After spending several weeks learning about financial literacy in the classroom, eighth grade students from East Tipp Middle School put those principles into practice at the Junior Achievement Finance Park.
During the Finance Park simulation, students receive family scenarios, complete with a job, marital status and possibly children. They must create a family budget based on hypothetical life situations, income, existing savings and debt. Later, the students visit the park businesses to explore their options when shopping for their family's needs, including clothing, transportation, groceries and childcare–without spending more than they earn.
“I enjoyed that this experience had parts that were self-led and it really made you feel independent and we got to spend our money on stuff we felt was necessary,” says student Isabelle Millburg. “When it came time to pay our bills, I never realized how expensive they could be and how many bills there are to pay.”
Student Brady Henchon says Finance Park is a fun way to teach students about how to manage their money: “I enjoyed being able to have my own budget and credit card and learn what you need to pay for first in life, like with insurance.”
East Tipp FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) teacher Dana Crum hopes the students take away an appreciation for money: “Turn the light off when you leave a room. Don't waste food or water. Save for emergencies. Recognize the importance of going to college or learning a trade to help your earning potential. Appreciate and respect your parents for providing for you. Understand that sometimes tough choices have to be made between our wants and needs.”
The Lafayette JA Finance Park serves almost 1,600 students each school year.