The video below is of my 4½ -year-old friend Abby, (the daughter of my awesome friends), entitled Abby the Entrepreneur. In it Abby sings her own song, which she appears to make up as she goes along, as she stands behind her makeshift lemonade/cookie stall at a weekend garage sale. Immediately I loved it! I love the title and I love adorable Abby singing her song while sampling some of her own product. If I had been there, I might have bought a good ten cups and gone home bursting at the seams; sloshing full of lemonade! I love this about cities. The ability to have instant customers on the street, a perfect place for kids to tryout their sales skills.
Lately, I’ve been thinking that we really should encourage children to do more of this sort of thing. They should be enthused at the prospect of using their creativity to find ways of making money. Not because we, as adults, should be cashing in on it, (nor should we be using them for child labour), but because such seeds are sown young. I truly believe that we should be encouraging them, from an early age, to think about trying new things, to be inventive, and to start earning whatever they can. Why not teach them about money, and let them discover the value of a dollar and the value of investment? I certainly wish I had started sooner – a lot sooner, because I am still working on my financial literacy and I am 30 – cough, cough – something.
Currently, I tutor a boy who was 14 when we started and, by now he must be 16 or so… We work on improving both his English speaking & comprehension skills and on his reading abilities. We’ll often chat about our week, read something interesting we’ve found online, maybe watch a topical TED lecture video and then tuck-in to some kind of short story or novel. At some point last year I was looking at my bookshelf and wondering what I’ve got that would be useful for an ESL male student with limited interests when Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki called out to me. [Rich Dad Poor Dad is a fantastic financial book that encourages you to use your creativity and money to your advantage. It’s a tad dated but the concept of the book remains the same]. I remember, from when I read it the first time just after I finished university, that there were some very interesting stories of the author as a child. I knew this young man I tutor is not only clever but has the beginnings of a natural business mind so I thought, why not? I certainly enjoyed reading it again and I was pleasantly surprised that he did too.
In the book, Robert shares stories of his childhood and the knowledge & education he received from his friend’s father, (his rich dad), at an early age. He has stories of him and his friend finding ways to make money from nothing. They are kids so they naturally make mistakes, but they also learn from the experience – plus earn some extra cash in the process! It’s fantastic, it’s moving, it’s inspiring, and he shares the most useful education he ever had, financial literacy.
If we train kids to learn about money, to pursue their interests, not to rely solely on one type of income, and to use their minds to create opportunities for themselves then it will be very difficult for them to fail. If we give them the tools to be able to adapt to a changing world then they will flourish no matter what the future holds.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we allowed children to have more of a say in how it works? Instead of being condescending towards them and telling them they aren’t old enough or smart enough to handle grown-up concepts, we could actually give them an active role in society. Imagine what that could look like? It begs the question, will adults forever be too arrogant to allow it, or do you see a change coming? It’s their future too, after all, isn’t it?