Monday, March 7, 2016

Economics and Money Homeschool Unit

(Click any section to enlarge)
I've been wanting to do a unit on Economics for a long time, but every time I started trying to prepare for it, I had such a hard time finding the kind of information I wanted! There are plenty of ideas out there for teaching about money management, and many of those are good. And there are, of course, advanced Economics courses for high school and college students that talk about Keynesian Economics vs. Supply-side Economics and so forth. But after searching through a million lesson plans and websites and books, I realized that what I REALLY wanted was a curriculum featuring the plain-English fundamentals of Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics…but for kids. Which meant I would just have to make it up myself!

If you know me very well, you've probably heard me praise Basic Economics. As I said in this post, at the risk of sounding somewhat fanatical, it was a life-changing book for me. The entire time I was reading it (and its sequel, Applied Economics) I kept thinking, "EVERYONE needs to read this book. Everyone!" And I do recommend it to everyone I can (including the hairdresser…), but I have little hope of actually getting anyone else to read it. It does sound so very boring!

However—my children are the perfect captive audience, and before I ever even knew I was going to homeschool them, I had already vowed that they, at least, would be exposed to the fundamental principles set forth in these books. I see these ideas as some of the most important ones for living a happy and grateful life! Things like understanding scarcity and trade-offs. Realizing that cost and price are not the same thing. Accepting and balancing risks. All the children's books about opening lemonade stands and using a bank account and credit cards and "save, spend, give" are fine—but they seem incomplete without the underlying principles and context. 

I don't mean to denigrate any other methods out there—I know Dave Ramsey has a course people speak highly of, and I'm sure there are many others—but especially in the current political climate, I really wanted to weave in some of the great truths I've learned from Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman. And to discuss some of the ways economic truths support and point to religious truths as well. If only all high school and college students could learn this stuff, maybe this country wouldn't be where it is now…*sigh*…but I digress.

Although I don't have a ton of posts and pictures about activities we did, (much of our time was spent having conversations based on notes I have from the books, and unfortunately I only had brief outlines; nothing very useful to anyone else) this was quite a lengthy unit, and a really fun one. I think it was one of our very favorites, which is saying something!

Here is my Pinterest page for the Economics and Money Unit.

To conclude: Thomas Sowell says that most of the world's economic and political problems could be solved if people would simply ask these three questions:

Compared to what?
At what cost?
And then what will happen?

Hopefully this unit helped us all become more practiced at asking and answering these things!

Oh, and one more pressing question…is it EEE-conomics, or Eh-conomics?? The answer is…both. I guess. Or either. I think I switch off between them. :)


  1. I am totally stealing all of this. Brilliant!!! We are working on a health/physical fitness unit during the summer and we are having a great time. I finally feel "home" again in our homeschooling--just enough of the basics, balanced with fun units that teach things I am interested in. Nutrition. Yes! Circulatory system--surprisingly, yes! I hated last year. Hated it. Now, all my kids will be home the next two years, I won't be pregnant, and I'm so happy, happy, yippy-skippy happy about it. We are starting a family business this fall, to be run by the oldest four. We are selling home-made bread. Miriam is working on the business plan and cost accounting aspects with her dad. I am working on teaching the children how to make bread so I don't have to do it all. :) By fall, we should be ready to start the marketing/gathering customers part of the process. We do hope the kids save a lot of money for missions/college/marriage over the next few years (through the business and other jobs), but we also hope they learn a lot of other things. Doing this economics unit in the fall at the same time we open the business sounds perfect. The kids will be really interested because they are doing it.

    On a sidenote, after talking to a sister of mine who isn't doing scouts at all with her boys, I found I couldn't bring myself to do the same despite my years of whining about hating scouts. Since coming to that decision, I've felt more ready to jump in. So . . . some of our physical fitness unit is built around the scouting requirements. I figure my boys will do a lot of scouting in YM, and I can just add to with the things that are easy (cooking, animal science, horsemanship), and then fill in any gaps when we get really close to achieving eagle status. How are you handling scouts with your oldest two boys??

    On another tangent--when are you planning on letting your girls wear makeup? My sister just posted a poll on the subject on FB because her oldest daughter turned 12 this week. I was in the huge majority. Actually, I was the only one who held my position so now I am curious about what moms, who I consider fairly like-minded to myself on many issues, are doing. That means you. :)

    1. Clearly we need to talk, because I want to hear everything about your family business idea! That's so cool! I love it. I bet your kids will do great at marketing it, and of course we all know you make great bread. And we need to talk about scouts too. Did I tell you I got called as Cub Scout leader?!


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