Teaching Financial and Professional Literacy Skills

Jul 10 · 5 min read

Becoming a financially and professionally literate adult takes a great deal of time and experience. As educators, parents, and families, we can give young people a head start by empowering them with skills in managing money, self-awareness, and professionalism. We recognize how challenging it can be for educators, who already must integrate a great deal of content into the school day, to add yet another learning space to cover. But for those who are exploring financial and professional literacy, or perhaps for those who want to engage parents and families in this instruction, we have collected a variety of financial and professional literacy teaching resources. While every classroom and individual student will of course have very different professional and financial literacy needs, these areas account for some of the most common topics and skills.

Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is generally understood as education and knowledge related to money management and finances. Here are some key areas of financial literacy that may be relevant to young people:

Accounts. A large part of financial literacy is being able to manage, save and appropriately spend money. A checking and savings account can be a great place to start. Many banks allow those under eighteen to open a joint account with their parents, still providing them with their own debit card and spending autonomy. Teaching students the importance of savings is another useful skill. Helping students understand the benefits of saving and how to save can help build skills for future financial security and success.

Checks. With the rise of technology, many teen or young adult students may not have encountered the need to write a check as frequently as previous generations. Searches for “how to write a check” on Google are five times higher today than they were ten years ago (1). Despite the decline, it may still be useful for students to know how to write and read checks given that they are likely to encounter one at some point and need to know how to accurately read and deposit it. To provide this practice, print worksheets or partner with a local community bank to seek out any educational resources they may offer.

Bills. An important part of financial literacy is a simple introductory discussion into bills: how they are paid, how to manage them, and how to budget for them. Students can utilize online tools to teach them to read bills, write bills, and pay for them for effectively.

Credit . It can be hard to teach high school students about credit as they have likely had no chance to accrue any or any need for using it. However, building credit can be very useful in their later adulthood. PBS has created a wonderful video suitable for teens about what credit is and how to use it wisely.

Budget. Research shows that young people who have good financial habits early on often grow up to be financially responsible adults. Therefore, teaching students the importance of budgeting and how to budget their money effectively can help them for years to come. Many online resources provide budgeting basics to help walk students through the process.

Taxes. Filing taxes and understanding tax documents can be confusing even for those who are experienced. Starting student education of how to read and file tax documents can provide them a basic understanding and utilization before they have to apply it. We recommend checking out this interactive online tool for teaching students all about taxes.

Professional Literacy

Preparing students for their professional futures is crucial not only to their development into adulthood but also closely tied to financial literacy instruction. Equipping students with introductory knowledge about professional skills and spaces is important in ensuring that they are adequately prepared for the future.

Jobs. Nearly 30% of high school students are employed in a job for at least a portion of the school year (3) . Holding a job as a teenager can have a variety of benefits. Not only does it teach responsibility, it is a great tool for teaching the value of a dollar, budgeting, and starting a resume. However, working as a high schooler can also have drawbacks, and each individual student will have vastly different needs. Students need to be able to talk with an adult about the job choices they make during high school — and having those very conversations (about whether to work, what to do once at work, etc.) is an important part of professional literacy skill development.

Careers. From an early age, children often get asked what they want to be when they grow up. To support teens as they begin to make choices about their future that will affect their careers, such as entering college, trade school, or military, encourage them to check out websites like careers onestop. Websites like these provide details into particular careers and can be helpful in making decisions, setting realistic expectations, and exploring personal strengths.

Emails. Writing emails can be difficult — striking an appropriate tone, communicating effectively, and writing professionally are all specific skills students may not yet have. Practicing writing professional emails is an important skill for students to learn early on, because they may start emailing professionals as early as the college application and entry process. Whether their communication is with a future college, professor, colleague, or boss, ensuring emails are professional and well-crafted is important. Several resources exist for teaching the art of email writing.

Resume. In today’s digital age, the importance of paper resumes has become a heated debate. However, ensuring your student has a well-crafted resume template can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to applying for jobs, colleges, and internships. In light of today’s digital age, digital portfolios or interactive resumes are increasing in popularity. You might also check out some examples of this innovative new trend.

Social Media. Research suggests 94% percent of teens use social media daily (4). Teaching students about social media etiquette is critical for their future success. Colleges and employers alike are turning to social media for a behind the scenes look at candidates. Ensuring students social media is clear of any negative portraying images and language can be the difference between acceptance and denial in the college realm or workplace.

Summer can be an excellent time to dive into financial and professional learning skills. Helping students take the time to enhance their financial and professional literacy knowledge, further prepares them to create good habits that can carry them into their distant futures. Looking for more summer resources? Check out the links below:


  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/04/22/americans-are-forgetting-how-to-write-checks-google-data-show/?utm_term=.d443c58cfd1c
  2. https://www.waldenu.edu/online-doctoral-programs/doctor-of-education/resource/pros-and-cons-of-working-a-job-in-high-school#e5ZkBj72sJB0CEgA.99
  3. https://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/
  4. https://nces.ed.gov/

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.


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We apply the science of learning to create innovative educational solutions and content to improve outcomes from K-20 and beyond.

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.