At BigKidSmallCity, we are passionate about encouraging entrepreneurship and giving our children a chance to experience success (and failure). These lessons, taught simply by doing work, have lifetime benefits.
I recently found another Houston family with the same beliefs and was excited to learn about the Kid's Market they organized outside their elementary school.
My 6 year old daughter participated in National Lemonade Day for the first time this past year. The event is designed to encourage entrepreneurship and teach children the financial basics of starting and running a business.
I was initially worried that she was too young to learn and appreciate the value of money. Why should she be concerned with the value of a dollar at such a young age? My naive thought was to shelter her from such adult concerns. If I can provide for her every need, I’m being successful as a parent — right?
As a child, my parents never discussed financial matters with me so I always assumed everything was ok. I didn’t learn of their struggles until after I became a father myself. In the same way, I felt it was my responsibility to “protect” her from this burden.
As a parent, I was measuring my success by how well I was providing for my family. I was denying my daughter the knowledge of basic finance because I was measuring my own success by how little she needed to be concerned by it.
The irony is that by doing so I was ensuring that she would make the same rookie financial mistakes as an adult when she’s out on her own for the first time. After realizing this fact, I decided to educate her on basic finance early and encouraged her to open a lemonade stand.
Lemonade Day arrived soon enough and it was a resounding success! I provided the initial capital for lemons, cups, napkins, etc. My daughter priced everything reasonably well and made a small profit in the end which she proceeded to spend some, save some, and share some by giving to charity. I wanted to make sure we taught her responsible financial habits if she was going to start learning at a young age. The seeds have been planted.
After some brainstorming with my wife, I asked my daughter if she would like to open her own store. You could see the big smile and twinkle in her eyes from across the room! She quickly scoured her belongings for gently used books and any toys she was willing to part with. My wife began to organize an after-school “Kids’ Marketplace” with other parents. Within a week there were at least a dozen other kids and parents interested in participating.
Many kids were only interested in spending their parent’s money. Other kids bartered their purchases and goods as secondary markets emerged. Where there’s a will there’s a way — especially with kids!
At the marketplace, she was clearly stating her prices and was negotiating while bartering. Her math skills were pushed to the limit as she quickly made change. She also had to double check on the math when receiving change!
Kids never cease to amaze me with their ability to learn and adapt quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can nurture my daughter’s entrepreneurial spirit. She definitely understands the value of learning math now. At the very least she won’t be making the same rookie financial mistakes I did — I hope.