File This Under ‘I Wish They Had That When I Was in School’
I don’t know about you, but I spent much of my time in elementary school thinking about what I had packed for lunch and what game my friends and I would play during recess. My fourth grader, on the other hand, is focused on her class’s “entrepreneur” program.
It seems like kids these days have way more opportunities — and are way more motivated — to learn real-world skills than when I was a kid. This is a good thing. When school-age children learn skills like entrepreneurship and leadership, they’re much more confident and successful in life.
Putting Kids Through ‘Business School’
My children’s school uses a program called the Baker Business School to allow fourth and fifth graders to work collaboratively across disciplines. The main project is to create a company from scratch. The students interview for “jobs” on the company’s team, ideate products, make prototypes, pitch their projects for venture capital, produce the products, film commercials, market their offerings, and even sell them during an end-of-year bazaar (they donate the profits to charity).
Whew. That’s a lot for 10- and 11-year-olds!
The hard work is worth it, though. Kids finish the program with an understanding of entrepreneurship, business practices, and finance — skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
For a semester, these kids are immersed in the world of business — and they run the show by making every decision about their companies. The program is designed to help students play to their strengths and learning styles in the roles they’re assigned, whether they serve as the CEO, VP of finance, or VP of production. For example, my daughter “applied” for VP of finance and sales because she likes to talk (I wonder where she gets that) and likes money.
Throughout the unit, the students meet with outside businesspeople who encourage and guide them through their projects. The school invites guest speakers to share their knowledge, and the kids tour various businesses in the city to see how they work.
The Benefits of an Early Education in Business
I am so glad that young children can participate in a program like this. It’s never too early to learn about how businesses work. If I had something like this when I was in grade school, I would have been much more prepared for my career — and life in general. What’s more, learning the value (monetary and otherwise) of hard work and various products is so beneficial for children.
When I was little, I often played “bank.” I would set up my toy cash register next to the plastic vegetables that I pretended to sell. The kids in this program are able to experience the exchange of goods in a far more sophisticated way. They set up actual booths and sell their products to customers — using real money!
The experience of creating a product and seeing it through the process from creation to distribution is invaluable. With the ability to buy almost anything online with the click of a button, it’s useful for kids to understand the incredible amount of work that goes into creating real-world products.
The next generation will be much better prepared for the real world thanks to programs like this one. They teach the value of responsibility, leadership, and entrepreneurship while also providing participants with plenty of fun experiences! When students know what it’s like to work, create, and take the initiative on a project, they’ll be set up for success now and in the future.