This summer, I was experimenting in some home schooling with my youngest boy Xavier. He has always seen me involved in business and proposed a couple of ideas he would like to learn about – first starting a business, and second, programming. Go figure 🙂
So I looked around for some simple curriculum for elementary school kids that would work for him. He is 10 years old and on the autism spectrum with ADHD as well so I had hoped to find some great interactive sites that would build in a hands-on way to show what a business is, how some businesses succeed and what the rewards and challenges are. Then from there I want to help him find a business idea, create a business plan, build a prototype of his product, then a marketing plan and share it with family friends to give him a taste of success.
I have not found much that is interactive but some good content at: http://www.teachingkidsbusiness.com/ but it is all text really.
Instead we had a conversation about really basic business ideas. It was kind of fun to try to express the answers to these questions in really, REALLY basic terms.
What would your answers be?
What is a business?
What is a good business idea?
Our answers are at the bottom.
Because we have not found great online tools, I have been pulling together stories of other kids who have started successful organizations.
In my family, one of our favourite kidpreneurs is (was – he is grown up now) Craig Kielburger from Free the Children – now Me to We.
Craig Kielburger is an example of a kid who became a Socialpreneur
This is from Wikipedia:
“In 1995, when Craig Kielburger was 12 years old, Craig saw a headline in the Toronto Star newspaper that read “Battled child labour, boy, 12, murdered.” The accompanying story was about a young Pakistani boy named Iqbal Masih who was forced into bonded labour in a carpet factory at the age of four, became an international figurehead for the fight against child labour by 12 years old, and was murdered in 1995.
Kielburger did more research about child labour and asked his seventh-grade teacher to speak to his classmates on the topic. Several offered to help, and the group of pre-teens started “Kids Can Free the Children” (later Free The Children).
One of the group’s first actions was to collect 3,000 signatures on a petition to the prime minister of India, calling for the release of imprisoned child labour activist Kailash Satyarthi, who went on to win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
In December 1995, Kielburger travelled to Asia with Alam Rahman, a 25-year-old family friend from Bangladesh, to see the conditions for himself. While there, he learnt that then-Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien was travelling to India. After initially being denied a meeting, Kielburger sat with Chretien for a 15-minute meeting to put child labour on the Prime Minister’s agenda, making headlines across Canada and internationally. Upon his return, Kielburger attracted international media attention with features on 60 Minutes and the Oprah Winfrey Show. His South Asian trip was documented in his book “Free The Children” and the Judy Jackson documentary “It Takes a Child”.“
We also shared a story about another boy with autism who started his own business – 10-year-old Michael Williams is selling jars full of ‘conversation starters’ to help people who have trouble communicating. You can read about his conversation jars here.
So our answers? It was fun to bring it down to as simple as we could.
What is a business? An organization that solves someone else’s problems in order to generate profits.
What is a good business idea? One that focusses on solving a problem that a) you have gone through yourself – so you really understand the problem and how important it is b) that you have a great solution for c) lots of other people have and, d) they are motivated enough to fix that they would spend money.
One of the great side notes in this is sharing with Xavier that lots of kids and maybe lots of seniors have similar problems to his. And that everybody has problems of all different types – that’s what makes the economy work!
What a positive way to look at a disability or difficulty and reinforce the idea of interdependence.