Economics 101

How to Teach Kids About Economics and Making Choices

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“When I went into early labor and was rushed to the hospital, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Anne Bradley, IFWE’s vice president of economic initiatives. As she talks, her three-year old daughter plays on a swing set in a playground nearby.

There was nothing I could do. I had to rely on countless people I did not know and trust them to care for me. What kind of society makes this even possible? A free society where people are able to use their gifts to serve others. In another place, in another time we may have been dead. But that’s not our story because free markets save lives.

This is Anne’s dramatic personal story she shares in IFWE’s video, Why Economics Matters. We released this video last spring in the hopes of helping some of our readers who wonder why we talk so much about economics and “economic thinking”. If that’s you, I encourage you to take five minutes to check out Anne’s video and download her short article, “Why Economics Matters,” both available here.

In her article, Anne explains that economic thinking is something we do every day, whether we know it or not. And how well we do it should be important to Christians who want to honor God with everything they’ve been given.

Simply put, human decision-making is the essence of economics. In this regard, economics becomes highly personal, even if GDP still seems distant. For the believer, economics concerns making God-pleasing decisions about everything from breakfast to a spouse. The consequences may be different for making these decisions, but they all matter.

As a full-time economist, wife, and mother of two kids, Anne frequently uses everyday examples to teach others, especially children, about the importance of economic thinking. Many parents are eager to help their children figure out their God-given calling. According to Anne, parents should be just as focused on helping their kids with the “how” of that calling as the “what”.

In 2016, IFWE released a new high school economics homeschool curriculum by Anne Bradley called Biblical Foundations for the Economic Way of Thinking. While it’s written with the homeschool community in mind, the curriculum could be used in a variety of educational settings for high school or older students. Here are three tips she gives to parents and others about teaching economics to children:

1. Don’t Be Intimidated by the Word “Economics”

Economics is just a fancy way of understanding the process of making choices under conditions of scarcity. Guess what? You already do this on a daily basis.

You can’t purchase everything you want when you go to the grocery store. You must weigh what you need and what you prefer against what your budget allows you to buy. You seek to get the most you can for the least expense.

This is the economic way of thinking. You do it all the time; you just aren’t thinking explicitly about it. You and your kids are already economists. You just didn’t know it!

2. Good Economic Thinking Always Starts with How Individuals Make Choices

When thinking about economics, start with how we make choices as individuals. Then move up to talking about more societal or global conditions.

You pray for your children before you think to pray about GDP. But when we measure GDP, we’re really trying to measure societal progress, and societal progress depends on how well each individual is doing.

Talking about how individuals make choices makes economics more relevant and accessible.

3. Replace “Economics” with “Stewardship”

We are called to make God-pleasing decisions. It’s why we’re here, and it’s how we’re going to make lasting contributions to God’s kingdom.

Economics is about maximizing profit with your time, talent, and resources. The more profit you have, the more you have left over to serve others with.

When you use your God-given gifts and talents to serve others, you are doing what God created you to do. This is true whether you’re a janitor, barista, pastor, or hedge-fund manager. Whatever God has created your children to do, they must do it with integrity. When they do that well, they are being good stewards.

Whether you’re a parent, professor, coworker, or a business owner, we hope that IFWE’s excitement and passion for helping Christians implement the economic way of thinking has been infectious. If so, would you pass our website on to a friend and let us know how we’ve impacted you?

Editor’s Note: Special limited time offer for IFWE blog readers! Get 50% OFF all IFWE homeschool curriculum. Use code IFWEBLOG50. Offer ends March 31, 2017. Visit the IFWE Bookstore.

Want to try a sample? Download FREE lessons from both new IFWE courses on calling and economics at IFWEHomeschool.com.

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