WATERLOO — It was a simple, foundational lesson on money and its value.
A penny was placed on the table in front of each of 12 3- and 4-year-olds in a Head Start classroom at the Eastside Ministerial Alliance building.
“Does anybody know how much this is worth?” asked Becky Beschorner of Dupaco Community Credit Union.
Children fiddled with the coins and some ended up on the floor. But several of the preschoolers called out numbers or held up fingers in response to her question. Beschorner turned her attention to a girl who held up a single finger, talking more about the value of one cent.
A worksheet and crayons were handed out. Teachers helped the children trace the word “penny” three times and count pictures of pennies. Each of the children were then given a Dupaco piggy bank and four more pennies to put into it.
The Wednesday morning financial literacy lesson was the first in what will be monthly sessions for 200 children at the Tri-County Child and Family Development Council’s three Waterloo Head Start centers. They will be led by Beschorner, Dupaco’s community outreach and education representative.
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Head Start has three classrooms at the EMA center, five at its Maywood center and one at its Lily Furgerson center. Its classrooms in partnership with other educational institutions are not part of the initiative.
“I’ll be here doing a lesson every month. We’ll work our way through all the coins,” said Beschorner. As lessons are held, nickels, dimes and quarters will be added to the piggy banks. She will talk about a variety of matters in the lessons such as where money comes from, how you earn it, how to save it and how it can be spent.
“It’s perfectly mission-aligned for us,” she added.
“After this is finished, the piggy banks will be filled and they can deposit them in the bank,” said John Berry, executive director of Tri-County Head Start. The children will already have a savings account at Dupaco, thanks to the initiative’s third partner, CUNA Mutual Group Foundation. CUNA Mutual Group has an office in Waverly.
“The foundation will seed up to 200 children with $25 savings accounts,” said Berry. The initiative came together when the foundation decided to fund the proposal he submitted. “The whole idea is when they’re all 18-19 years of age, they’ll have a decent-sized nest egg.”
The partners are pretty hopeful that the children’s savings will grow over the years.
This summer, they beta-tested the concept with 50 Head Start families, setting up the accounts with $25 each. According to the most recent statements on those accounts, said Beschorner, “they’ve saved $1,200” collectively beyond the initial investment.