Junior Achievement helps parents talk to kids about COVID-19 economy

A guide from Junior Achievement of Greater Washington aims to help parents talk to children about the coronavirus outbreak. (iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Junior Achievement of Greater Washington has released a free online resource for parents and teens titled “Making Sense: Understanding the Financial Impact of COVID-19.”

Children, especially teenagers, have a lot of questions about the economy right now. For parents, answering those questions can be a fine line between talking down to them and talking over their heads.

Children largely know what is going on, but not necessarily why.

“Everybody jokes about the toilet paper shortage. But that is a teachable moment — panic buying: What does that mean for supply and demand? Restaurants are a good example: Talk to them about why they are closing. So there are a lot of teachable moments in these situations from the coronavirus right now,” Ed Grenier, CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, told WTOP.

The guide is written with middle school and high school students in mind, and uses relatable examples to explain concepts such as what a recession is and how the Federal Reserve works, and details the steps being taken by government and the private sector to deal with the economic impact associated with COVID-19.

Children also have concerns about how the pandemic’s lasting effects may affect them personally, and those concerns depend largely on their age.

“High school seniors and juniors are starting to wonder, if they’ve decided to go to college, can they pay? Can they get a student loan? Do they need to live at home?” Grenier said.

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“And for younger kids, they’re concerned about security, so I wouldn’t discount that. They are starting to hear stories about families moving out of houses and apartments. There is a fear out there among the younger children.”

A recent Junior Achievement survey of 1,000 U.S. teens between 13 and 18 years old found 13% say one of their parents or caregivers has lost their job due to COVID-19, and 57% of those teens surveyed are concerned about how COVID-19 will impact their plans for the future.

Junior Achievement has been teaching young people how to be prepared for the real world for more than 100 years. Grenier urges parents not to dwell on current conditions when talking about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s important, especially for the high schoolers, to always focus on the future and let them know this is temporary, it will get better and there are options,” he said.

Junior Achievement also has produced free online resources for teachers and parents who may have students finishing school online this semester.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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