Banking on saving-savvy preschoolers

PNC Bank Regional President Joe Meterchick teaches preschoolers money management skills during an event Dec. 10 at Head Start in Orlando.

PNC Bank Regional President Joe Meterchick teaches preschoolers money management skills during an event Dec. 10 at Head Start in Orlando.

Allison Olcsvay

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Are preschoolers too young to learn how to stay out of debt? Not according to PNC Bank, which gave $50,000 to Community Coordinated Care for Children to help teach preschoolers money management skills.

“Are preschoolers too young for this type of program? Absolutely not,” said Patricia Frank, CEO of Community Coordinated Care for Children, aka 4C.

“Just as we teach good habits like hand-washing and brushing your teeth, we want to teach good financial habits.”

The new program titled “For Me, For You, For Later” is a bilingual kit developed by Sesame Workshop in partnership with PNC Bank.

It includes activities and lessons appropriate for 2- to 5-year-olds featuring the popular Sesame Street characters Elmo and Cookie Monster.

The kit also includes a DVD with songs and a story to enhance the lessons.

The grant money will be used to implement the program at VPK centers across Central Florida.

“We selected 4C for its success in the community. Just as 4C is valued for their partnerships within the community, PNC also hopes to be a valued member of the community,” said PNC Regional President Joe Meterchick.

According to Meterchick, PNC Banks have been in the Central Florida region for over five years now and in that time have immersed themselves in the community, investing $2.5 million into projects like this.

“It’s been kind of the emblem of PNC, which is ‘When we’re here, we’re here,’” Meterchick said.

The program seeks to teach kids simple, age-appropriate financial concepts such as need vs. want, saving vs. spending and ways in which people earn money. It introduces topic like what is money, how is it made, counting and coin identification.

“I think teaching kids early about money is always a good thing,” said Timechia Jones, whose two children attend the Rio Grande Head Start center where the announcement was made.

“They will have a better understanding of how money is used than I ever did at their age,” she said. “I was never taught this kind of stuff until I had to learn it on my own as an adult.”

“My 4-year-old, Torrey, is already excited to save his little money in his piggy bank for something he really wants and I think it’s great that he doesn’t want to just spend everything right away.”

Following the grant announcement, children at the preschool center got a preview of the type of programs the grant will provide in the form of puppet shows designed to help them remember the concepts learned.

Small groups of preschoolers sat enraptured as their teachers used puppets to tell them stories related to spending, saving and earning money.

They also got a chance to play with oversized coins that many of them could already identify.

“That’s a nickel,” shouted 2-year-old Dwight Williams whose obvious delight at being allowed to handle the giant coins was given away by his infectious smile.

“So many children don’t know about finances,” Meterchick said. “This is our opportunity to introduce these concepts before they need to know them.”

“By partnering with Sesame Workshop, we are able to provide a program that kids will enjoy and that is designed to include the parents in what the children are learning.”

The Grow Up Great program is a 10-year, $100 million dollar initiative started in 2004 by PNC Bank to prepare children for success in school and in life.

“This is a fantastic program that we are very happy to be a part of,” said 4C Head Start Director Gay Delaughter. “We couldn’t be more pleased with this wonderful grant.”