Parent Involvement Highlights with Anne Runkle

Anne Runkle an Economics teacher at Charlotte Catholic High School, in Charlotte, NC, is an avid Budget Challenge user. She has been using the program since 2014. In that time our program has improved and changed. However, the importance and relevancy of parent engagement during the simulation and the bridge between home and school that Budget Challenge creates has remained the same. Anne shares her experience and the importance of parent involvement.

How do you communicate with your student's parents during the simulation?

I typically communicate with parents three times during the course of the simulation: prior to the start of the challenge during the planning phase, at the end of the challenge and finally when I encourage them to participate in the Parent Survey. I believe the most influential communication comes during the planning phase. The planning stage is probably the most difficult period as the concepts are so new to the students and I require them to create a daily cash flow budget. I encourage students to discuss the process with their parents and the parents to probe with questions. Real life experience is very beneficial to assist the students in getting their minds “wrapped around” the process of daily finances.

How have your students' parents responded to their participation?

Talking about finances is not always an easy topic for everyone. When it comes in the form of schoolwork, Budget Challenge can open the door to the discussion. When I receive feedback related to participation it is always favorable.

How has participation in Budget Challenge influenced the conversations with your students and their parents?

The feedback I have received from parents indicates that Budget Challenge acts as a catalyst for financial conversations between the parents and students.

What comments do you hear the most from students and parents during the simulation?

The simulation is used in my economics classes that consist of high school seniors. At the end of each semester I conduct a survey relative to course content, including Budget Challenge. In the past 2 years 90% of the students have responded that participation in Budget Challenge helped introduce them to relevant personal finance topics that they expect to encounter in college.

Here are samples of the comments I have received from parents regarding the Budget Challenge.

"I will be sure to talk with him about this robust 9-week economic challenge. Your timing couldn’t have been more perfect!"

"Thank you for this assignment and for helping our kids learn in such a practical and meaningful way."

"I wish I had this class when I was in HS. Thank you for providing this great experience."

"This sounds like a great project. My daughter has been working and making good money. This will definitely be a help once she see’s how in the real world, she has to pay bills and plan ahead."

"I absolutely love this! It should be mandatory for every student!"

"I’m thrilled about the budget project. What a great learning opportunity (and needed. Thanks for really engaging our son."

"We think this is terrific, our daughter shared it with us last night at dinner and we're VERY excited about it. She will have our support as you all go through the exercise."

"Our son was talking about this at dinner this evening! He is really enjoying this project."

What benefits do you see from engaging parents in their student’s learning?

As a firm believer that parents are a students' first teacher, I believe the benefits far outweigh the costs of engaging parents in Budget Challenge. Parents are a “partner” because Budget Challenge learning is continual, not just a Monday to Friday “school activity”. The continual process often requires their assistance during school holidays and weekends.

Do you think parents learn or benefit from their student’s participation in the program?

With the ever-changing financial landscape I believe everyone who engages with Budget Challenge learns something they may not have been specifically aware of! It’s never too late to learn.

Does parental support have a direct effect on the use of the program in your school.

I wouldn’t say that parental support has a direct effect on the utilization of this program, but I think the positive feedback is a catalyst for continued use of the program at Charlotte Catholic High School.

Do you use the end-of-simulation parent surveys with all your classes?

I always use the end-of-simulation parent surveys. I have been participating in simulations for over six years (typically 9-10 simulations annually) and I receive approximately 20%-25% response rate.

How easy is the parent survey feature to use?

The parent survey feature is a breeze! All I have to do is request the survey be sent and I receive a link to forward to the parents. Incrementally it puts little work on the teacher.