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Parenting Project: Dollars and “Sense”

WAUNAKEE (WKOW) — It can be hard to teach your child the value of a dollar. But a class at Waunakee High School prepares students for when they have to survive on their own.

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Freshman Chandler McElrath is in the class. She says, “I didn’t learn that a CD was not an actually physical CD until about 6 months ago, so I feel a lot smarter now!”

Chandler is like a lot of other teens in her “Dollars and Sense” class – just starting to make some money, but not sure what to do with it. “We just say I’ll just take it out of here and that’ll go toward my parent’s birthday present or something like that. It’s not an actual account for us, it’s just different spots in our bedroom.”

Teacher Stacey Ryan uses a program called Banzai to get students to understand the difference between checking, savings, debit and credit cards. And just what do all the numbers on that pay stub mean? “What their gross pay is, what they’re paying in benefits, what deductions they have.”

Mrs. Ryan says this is a starting point and parents can use it to continue the lesson at home. “When we continue to get 85-90 percent of the Freshman class to take the course. I think parents are saying, ‘I want my child in that class.'”

Chandler’s parents must have been impressed when she came to the dinner table the other night to talk about – of all things – retirement plans. “We were actually talking about pensions and we had just learned about it in class and I was wondering what it was and my mom actually gets one as part of her job. She’s a state worker so it was interesting to apply what I learned in class to my life at home.”

Mrs. Ryan says with this program is easy to learn from. Most of the students do very well on their post-test.

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit or call 888-8-BANZAI.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.