In my last blog post I wrote about the exhibition of learning, and I’d like to continue on the theme of how to see evidence of learning here by reviewing the recent Children’s Business Fair. This event is open to public attendance and booths can be purchased by children outside of the school. The setting provides a great opportunity for the children to apply their knowledge and skills on a new and objective audience while competing against children outside of the tribe for the consumer’s dollar.
If you are reading this post and want a glimpse of what ESTEAM offers, the Children’s Business Fair is a great place to start. Reading about alternative education models is great, but seeing what these kids can accomplish in a demanding real-world setting will give you a completely different insight.
As for my daughter specifically, I saw growth in many areas including:
- Learning the process of mixing cement and using a silicone mold. With some initial help and modeling of the process she was eventually able to create a cement pot by herself.
- Setting a goal to create 10 pots and scheduling the work to be completed by the business fair.
- Making decisions about the layout, font, colors, images and content of a promotional flyer.
- Working with a partner and deciding how to most fairly divide the revenue.
- Overcame personal shyness in order to interact with adult customers.
Now you may be wondering, did we help her use the online graphic design tool? Yes. Did we help her memorize her prices and walk through the process of talking to customers? Yes. But in line with the principles of ESTEAM these conversations were done socratically by asking her questions and respecting her choices. If she missed a day making pots, she would pick another day to catch up. If she used improper grammar on her flyer, so be it. When the day of the business fair arrived she was familiar with the product, knew how to give change, and happily talked to customers with no parental assistance.
My daughter is 5 so I think these are huge wins. That being said, I don’t think she was alone in her accomplishments. As I visited with the entrepreneurs I saw many things that impressed me such as:
- Most parents were in the background or completely absent from the booth
- Changing prices based on the competition
- Sending a teammate out of their booth to bring in customers
- Thorough explanations of their product creation process
- Hiring employees to help work their booth
- Scheduling breaks with their partners
Many of these were spontaneous occurrences that took place as the need arose, and happened in addition to the normal business requirements like being polite and attentive to customers and giving out correct change. Of course the marketing, price points, and quality of goods will vary widely but what I found to be true across the board is that these children are happy, capable, and confident.
While it’s obviously hard work running a business these kids were also having lots of fun. I believe that when we think about preparing our kids for the future we can’t overlook the value of fun. As the saying goes “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Click below to watch interviews with some of our amazing young entrepreneurs:
Click below to get a glimpse of the 2021 Children’s Business Fair in action:
About the Author: Daniel, father of 2, new Tribe members as of the 2020-2021 School Year and New Explorers Studio Guide.