Starting a business sounds like a daunting task, but that’s exactly what entrepreneurs do. In doing so, they require immeasurable skills like management, innovation, and perseverance.
Letting your child start a business may sound far-fetched, but the fact is, the very same skills that help business people achieve success are invaluable skills children should be picking up. In some schools, entrepreneurship is emphasised as a key skills set that children learn. For example, the Canadian International School in Singapore focuses on entrepreneurship as the ‘E’ of their STEAM programme rather than engineering (which, anyway, is covered within the other disciplines of STEAM).
But, what exactly does entrepreneurship encompass? Children do not need to be learning complex economics or business theories to learn entrepreneurship. It can be as simple as honing their creativity and developing the right work ethic and attitude.
Below, we break down some critical aspects of entrepreneurship that young children can start to pick up, and highlight some suggestions for cultivating these in children:
The difference between any business person and an entrepreneur is that business people take an existing idea for a product, and turn it into a profit-making system, while entrepreneurs came up with a new idea for a product or service, and bring it to fulfilment. Thus, a critical aspect of an entrepreneur is to have an innovative mind to think of fresh, marketable concepts or solutions.
For children to learn how to innovate, they need to exercise their creativity through activities like art and play. Parents should spur divergent thinking and create platforms for children to voice their ideas at home.
Some people have brilliant ideas, but fail to make them come to fruition. Many times, what is lacking is vision – the ability to set goals and plan for the future. Only by creating clear targets and direction can an idea go from nothing to something. While the idea can be revolutionary, the goals should break down the process into realistic and achievable steps.
To teach your child to be a visionary, you should encourage them to take actions when they have good ideas. Guide your child to set goals and plans that will make their initial idea come to life.
With every new venture, there are sure to be risks. Entrepreneurs are adept at assessing the situation, crafting strategic decisions, and bearing the risks of their actions. They also need to recognise opportunities and spot great timings, and act upon them to make smart decisions.
Your child can learn to strategise through activities like playing sports or board games. Parents can also implement systems at home that encourage children to think strategically – for example, getting your child to earn money through simple chores to buy an item they want.
Not all entrepreneurs turn out successful, but those who succeed typically do so after multiple tries, years of perseverance, and countless steps towards improvement. This resilience is a vital ingredient in entrepreneurs, and is what polishes their product to be ready for the market at the end of the day.
In the same way, your child needs to learn to recognise that failure is not the end-point. Rather, parents should teach children to see failure as a learning opportunity, and imbibe in them a pursuit for improvement. The parents’ example is particularly important in imparting such a perspective in children.
As you can see, entrepreneurship is not one single skill, but rather, a package of skills that enables one to seek out success in a highly competitive world. Some also consider entrepreneurship as part of the lineup of 21st-century skills.
Along with parenting efforts at home, choosing a school that presents opportunities to hone these skills is crucial to a child’s development of entrepreneurship skills. The Canadian International School (CIS) is one such school that places emphasis on building up entrepreneurship abilities through initiatives like the STEAM makerspaces, and annual STEAM fair. Students can practise these skills while studying in the IB programme in Singapore, giving them an excellent holistic education as early as the IB Primary Years Programme.