Financially Strong

Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools

Students in grades 4-12 learn about financial literacy so they can understand how to make informed financial decisions. The Ministry of Education’s financial literacy strategy includes the four key components of citizenship, economic understanding, personal finances, and consumer awareness. Financial literacy builds students’ understanding of personal finances, the local and global economy and the results of their choices as consumers.

What is financial literacy and why is it important?

Financial literacy means having the knowledge and skills to make responsible economic and financial decisions with confidence. In today’s complex world, young people need a wide range of skills and knowledge to make informed choices. Financial literacy will help students to:

  • Carefully consider their financial choices. This can apply to everyday decisions, like buying groceries to bigger investments, like paying for tuition or buying a car.
  • Understand basic money management.
  • Develop their own perspectives on financial matters, such as interest rates, mortgage rules or the Canadian or global economy.
  • Participate fully in society as knowledgeable, responsible citizens who can confidently make decisions about where and how to invest their money.
  • Stay financially stable and healthy throughout life.
  • Understand the impact of economic choices on the world they live in.

How is financial literacy taught in Ontario schools?

Financial literacy is part of the elementary and secondary curriculum in many different subjects such as mathematics, social studies, Canadian and World studies, business studies and many others. In some subjects, students may be learning specific skills such as understanding money, consumer awareness, personal finances, budgeting and money management that will help them develop financial literacy skills. In other subjects, financial literacy connections may be made as students learn about their place in the world, as a responsible and compassionate citizen or when they study different economic systems.

Through the curriculum, students are developing skills in critical thinking, decision-making and problem solving that can be applied to subjects at school and to real life situations. Resources have been developed for teachers to help them connect financial literacy topics across the curriculum to deepen students’ learning and make financial literacy more relevant.

How is Financial Literacy Assessed?

The Programme for International student Assessment (PISA) is an international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in subjects like science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy.

In the 2015 PISA survey, Canada participated in the financial literacy component for the first time. While PISA does not measure academic achievement in relation to specific school curricula, it does assess students’ ability to apply knowledge and skills and to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they examine, interpret, and solve problems. The results provide an important baseline measure for financial literacy.

Canadian and provincial level data on the PISA financial literacy results are available through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). CMEC’s reports provide helpful information about how well Ontario students perform on a range of financial literacy measures, as well as student behaviour and attitudes when it comes to personal finances. As a teacher, this information can be used to inform areas of focus when integrating financial literacy in your classroom.

Assessing financial literacy in the classroom

Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario’s Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2010), provides information that will help teachers assess student learning, including learning in financial literacy. By helping students to set their own goals with respect to financial literacy, and supporting them by using effective assessment practices, teachers can help them to develop their skills and knowledge in financial literacy.

As set out in Growing Success, essential practices in assessment are:

  • Planning assessment concurrently, and integrating it seamlessly with instruction;
  • Sharing learning goals and success criteria with students to ensure that students and teachers have a shared understanding of these goals and criteria as learning progresses;
  • Gathering information about student learning using a variety of assessment strategies and tools;
  • Using assessment to inform instruction, guide next steps, and help students monitor their progress towards achieving their learning goals;
  • Analysing and interpreting evidence of learning with students;
  • Giving and receiving specific and timely descriptive feedback about student learning;
  • Helping students to develop skills in peer and self-assessment.

For more information, we invite you to visit the assessment section of EduGAINS.

What resources are available to teachers for classroom use?

The Ministry has developed a variety of resources to support teachers of all subjects and disciplines from Grades 4 to 12 in integrating financial concepts into their classrooms.

This includes

  • A variety of lesson plans and other resources developed by different subject/division associations and Curriculum Services Canada in partnership with the Ministry of Education.
  • Teacher videos, viewer guides and lesson plans developed to provide financial literacy teaching and learning examples.
  • Scope and sequence documents for elementary and secondary school to highlight expectations related to financial literacy education in the current Ontario curriculum.
  • eMe App is available free of charge from ITunes for Grade 7 and 8 students to play either in class or independently at home. An accompanying teacher guide is available to support lesson planning.

You can access a summary of these resources including information on how to access them here.

What resources are available for teachers to help parents support their children in learning financial literacy?

Parents have an important role to play in supporting their child to develop the skills, knowledge, and behaviours to navigate today’s increasingly complex financial world. Parent resources have been developed to highlight the Ministry of Education’s financial literacy strategy and to guide parents in engaging their children in financial literacy matters. These resources can be used to support conversations at parent-teacher nights, school fairs, or other parent engagement activities.

Tips for Parents

A Parent’s Guide: Financial Literacy in Ontario Schools, Grades 4 to 12

Video for Parents

Where can I learn more about financial literacy education?

Canadian Bankers Association
Provides financial literacy resources and tools for students, parents, teachers, and seniors on a variety of topics, such as fraud prevention and tips for saving.

Canadian Revenue Agency
Provides resources and tools to support teaching taxes and responsible citizenship and provides information on the national strategy for financial literacy including the goals and priorities.

EduGAINS – Financial Literacy
Provides a variety of resources for educators, including examples of cross-curricular and subject specific approaches to teaching financial literacy.

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Promotes financial education and raises consumers’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities.

Federal Taskforce on Financial Literacy
Provides information on the Federal Task Force’s report to the Federal government advocating for the creation of a national strategy on financial learning and literacy for Canadians.

OTF’s Inspire Financial Learning
Supports teachers, students, parents and guardians with tools and strategies to help them navigate the complex world of finances and make responsible financial choices.

Junior Achievement
Provides information on financial literacy programs available to schools.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) International gateway for Financial Education
Includes research and reports on financial literacy to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

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