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Teaching credit education classes: best practices

Credit education involves teaching people about credit reports, credit scores and credit cards. It helps people establish credit or repair credit. Although credit education can be done in one-on-one credit counseling sessions, it is often done in credit classes. (Many of these financial classes are offered through bankruptcy filing programs or debtor education programs.)

A credit education teaching kit

The Good Credit Game helps people teach great credit classes. It's a kit that makes it fun and easy to do credit education classes for adults and young adults. The credit curriculum uses collaborative credit games to teach credit concepts. The kit's credit lesson plans are in a "teach out of the box" format. As a result, you don't need to be a credit expert for your credit education class to be great. In addition to a series of activities that teach credit concepts, The Good Credit Game also includes a credit board game to teach and reinforce credit information.

Topics covered in credit education

Credit education can involve very basic or very complicated lessons. A basic credit education class will typically cover:

  • What is credit? What is creditworthiness?

  • Why does credit matter?

  • What's a credit report and a credit score? How are they related?

  • How to read a credit report.

  • What's a good credit score?

  • How to improve credit or fix a credit score?

  • How your credit affects your life: what you pay on loans, credit cards, etc. and how it affects renting an apartment, getting a job, etc.

  • The connection between credit cards, credit reports and credit scores.

  • In addition, credit education may cover different types of credit and consumer rights and regulations.

Why credit education should be fun

Credit can be a difficult topic to teach. Credit education can be really complicated and confusing. It can involve lots of numbers. And, like other financial education classes, it can feel uncomfortable and judgmental when talking about your personal finances. As a result, financial educators should strive to make credit education a fun, non-threatening experience. This is true for a few reasons:

  • It's easier to sell credit education to participants if it seems fun from the outset.

  • People learn better when they feel good and are engaged – as opposed to being bored or unengaged.

  • It's more rewarding as an educator if the class seems engaged and people are paying attention, asking questions, etc.

  • Word of mouth for subsequent classes is easier is people tell their friends that they enjoyed the credit education class.

  • A better class experience can lead to more uptake on one-on-one credit education or credit counseling.

Transitioning from credit classes to credit counseling

Many organizations that do credit education classes also offer credit counseling. There is a lot of added benefit to one-on-one sessions that follow credit classes. You can, for example, go over someone's credit report and offer specific advice for that person; such advice really isn't possible in a large credit class.

However, there is a lot of general information about credit that makes sense to be taught as a group. Imagine if all credit information (see topics above) were taught one-on-one. Instead of one teacher doing a 1- or 2-hour credit education class for 20 people to cover the basics, you'd need a counselor to go over that same hour or two of material with 20 different people. That's just not feasible. (Also, the class format – at least that that results from using The Good Credit game – helps participants warm up to talking and sharing about credit, learning form others like them, and understanding that other people face the same problems and questions. Therefore, organizations should teach the basics in a class format and then do specific work with individuals and their credit reports.

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