As parents, most of us have kids that participate in extra-curricular activities whether its soccer, band, gymnastics, drama or anything in between. In all of those activities our kids have a coach; someone who is teaching them and guiding them toward mastery of that activity.
But something is missing from this picture of teaching and guiding and that is encouraging mastery of personal finance, and we would add entrepreneurship. There is plenty we could be teaching our kids about entrepreneurship beyond the lemonade stand. But how do we do that?
In our College and Adulthood Planning series of articles, the focus has been on preparing kids for college and adulthood. The default position for encouraging kids too often stops with going to college and getting a job. What if, in addition to that, we taught about how to get money to work for our kids and how to create something from scratch, in other words, how to manage money and to be an entrepreneur? We all know that the path from college to what we do with the rest of our life is often a long and winding road. Why not prepare kids for that reality with some mentorship and coaching around finance and entrepreneurship?
Kids are creative and open to trying things. They have an incredible ability to come up with ideas that stretch the limits of our imaginations. It’s our job to help cultivate that creativity and not kill it. As parents, we lean on teachers, coaches, and directors because we cannot possibly be experts at everything. We might be great at basketball and have the ability to coach them, but that’s not everyone’s gift. Not everyone has musical abilities, or is great at soccer; in the same way, not everyone is skilled in business and entrepreneurship.
So, if your child is wanting to take risks, create things, and share those gifts with the world, you may not be equipped to help them. And this may be hard to hear, but if a kid has that entrepreneurial spark, you may be hurting them by driving the narrative to go to college, get a job, and conform. So how can you help your kids out?
There are two levels of help. Just like kids take gym or English in school to gain a baseline proficiency, we need our kids to gain a baseline proficiency in personal finance. This is an area of education that is sadly lacking. Beyond the basics, there are some kids who want more. They hope to join the varsity basketball team or get picked for a solo in the choir. So we find them great teachers, mentors, and coaches. Just like in other areas where they express an interest or passion, your kids might need business mentors. The truth is, our children need more input, coaching, and mentors focused on personal finance and business. Mentoring is the intentional role of someone older and wiser taking a vested interest in the growth and development of another person.
One organization doing an outstanding job of this is Junior Achievement. In their own words, “Junior Achievement is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. Junior Achievement’s programs—in the core areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy—ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.”
Junior Achievement’s purpose is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. We love this purpose statement. More of this, please!
Maybe you have heard about Junior Achievement, but don’t know much about it. The cool thing is, you can volunteer and sponsor curriculum in your child’s school to benefit and come alongside whole classes. JA has content and programming for grades K-12.
We think JA’s curriculum in the State of Iowa (and your state for that matter) should be mandatory in all schools. Further, we think it should be funded by business for future business and taught through volunteers just as it is. The model is genius.
Your kids have coaches and mentors in so many areas of interest. They should be coached and mentored in personal finance and entrepreneurship too.