Ray Huard …Normally, Delores Loedel would be teaching accounting classes to college students, but on a recent morning, she took over a class of kindergarteners at Olive Elementary School.
“We start very, very simply,” said Loedel, whose usual environment is at the head of a classroom at Mira Costa College. “Right now, they’re identifying needs and wants.”
You might want a shiny new car, but what you need is a place to live and food on the table, she explained.
Loedel was one of 14 volunteers who spent a morning at Olive in the Vista Unified School District as part of a financial literacy program put on by Junior Achievement of San Diego County – JA Day.
“The earlier we start with the children, the better,” Loedel said. “As a state, California was rated F in financial literacy.”
In a 2015 study by Champlain Colleges Career for Financial Literacy, California was one of 12 states given an F rating. The low rating was based on the lack of financial literacy classes in high school.
Olive Principal Stephanie Vasquez said she thought it was important to introduce elementary school students to basic economics and what they might want do with their lives.
“Our motto is, ‘where kids think big.’ It gets kids thinking about real world problems,” Vasquez said. “My hope, by partnering with Junior Achievement, is to have an engaging opportunity where we work with career and community leaders in order to have our kids learn about potential careers, innovation and entrepreneurship skills that prepare them for a successful future.”
For JA Day at Olive, each volunteer was assigned to a classroom, where they went over economic basics from how to make money by doing chores around the house to how to start a business and become an entrepreneur, depending on the grade level of the students.
“These are really, really important concepts that we feel all kids need to be prepared for,” aid Kerri Dejager, North County coastal education manager for Junior Achievement.
Fourth-grader Lillyanna Cervantes said she learned “that if you want a job, you need skills.”
“You don’t want to go into a job and say, ‘I want a job, but don’t have the skills,” said Lillyanna, who wants to be an engineer or a scientist.
Fifth-grader Veronica Quesada, who wants to be a singer or a lawyer said, “I learned how to choose what job I want.”
Volunteer Darcy Wolfe, a financial planner with Edward Jones, gave a combination class of fourth and fifth- graders a lesson in how the free market works using items that the students took from their backpacks, like rulers and pencils.
The students put price tags on what they chose, compared their prices with those of other students, then adjusted their prices to be competitive.
At the start of the day, “they couldn’t pronounce entrepreneur, but they’re learning,” said Wolfe, who served in the Navy for 25 years and was a management consultant before becoming a financial adviser.
Aside from the basics in economics, Wolfe said that her message to students is “to recognize the variety of opportunities that are out there.”