Going to school teaches children many things, from learning to read and write to communication skills and how to form relationships.
But does it teach them to be entrepreneurs? Does it teach them problem solving skills that can be used in the outside world? Does it equip them for life in a digital, globalised age?
Many would argue not, with traditional school systems focused on exams and basic skills still prevailing in many societies. Yet the benefits of teaching children skills of entrepreneurship from a young age could prove extremely important not only for their own development but for the future of business, growth and innovation.
Here are three reasons why it’s never too early to teach children to be entrepreneurs…
IT’S A NATURAL MATCH
Although independence and individual thought are arguably not the first thing you would associate with childhood, an interesting article by entrepreneur.com has argued that in fact entrepreneurship and childhood is an excellent match.
Kim Lachance Shandrow , Senior Editor at Los Angeles-based agency SJR, claims that;
‘If you think your kids aren’t fantasising about calling the shots for once, you’re dreaming. The sweet independence of being your own boss is what entrepreneurship is all about. That’s why kids and entrepreneurialism are such an excellent match.’
She continues by saying that just as parents encourage children to learn other valuable skills such as riding a bike or learning to swim, giving them the opportunity to deal with challenges and learn through play are vital to developing independent thought and problem solving skills from a young age.
Given that many innovation consultancies like ourselves advocate the benefits of play to fostering creativity in adults, there is little reason the same logic shouldn’t be applied to children.
The infographic in Shandrow’s article (and created by Tel Aviv based start-up Pumpic) gives some great practical tips for blending these skills into the day to day life of a child.
WE NEED TO RECOGNISE OTHER TALENTS
One of the biggest trends in innovation is building a strong innovative culture through individuals with a diverse skills set. Even as an individual entrepreneur, knowing your own strengths and equally when to employ someone to complete tasks that you cannot is a vital skill.
Recognising this mix of talent is something that experts argue is important for encouraging entrepreneurism from a young age. While not everyone can be adept at languages or physics, they likely have other skills that could be developed.
This is the belief expressed by Cameron Herold, an US entrepreneur, growth training coach and author of Double Double in his recent TEDx talk. Herold tells how from a young age it was clear that he wasn’t going to succeed in traditional schooling, but that he had many traits of an entrepreneur from a young age that went unrecognised by the system.
He relates how he was recently ranked as the highest rated lecturer at MIT’s entrepreneurial masters programme, but that even though in grade two of school he won a city-wide speaking competition nobody ever recognised this as an alternative skill and fostered this ability into something more.
He suggests applying the old adage so often quoted in development and aid contexts of “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for a lifetime” should be kept in mind when teaching skills to children, believing that ultimately these transferable skills will perhaps prove more beneficial in life than the ability to pass exams.
THERE ARE ORGANISATION WHICH CAN HELP
This notion of encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in children is not a novel one, and in recent years a number of organisations have begun to work towards this aim as a supplement to traditional schooling.
One such organisation is teachingkidsbusiness.com, which allows children to explore and learn business skills ‘in a non-commercial, safe and positive environment.’ In much the same way that adults can benefit from business training, the organisation provides workshops, case studies and the chance to gain real world experience through placements or working with a company.
Likewise Kidpreneurs is an initiative and best selling book which fully embraces the idea of ‘it’s never too early’ by providing a wealth of ideas and information on entrepreneurship in an easily accessible manner. With a focus on equipping young people for challenges in the future, there is clearly a substantial interest in making this practice more widespread.
As these ideas become more mainstream and more young people are encouraged to think outside the box when it comes to education and skills sets, the results for the wider business world and future development could be profound. Though it may take several years to see the breakthrough, surely it’s an investment worth making.
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