Entrepreneurship Begins Early in Mill Valley Elementary School
Third grade curriculum in most schools consists of sharpening Math, English and Computer skills and taking them up a notch. However, if you are lucky enough to be in Anne Siskin's third-grade at Edna Maguire Elementary School in Mill Valley, you may be in for a real treat!
Anne, who has been a teacher for over 27 years is a big believer in connecting class curriculum to the real world. While she does it in different ways throughout the year, one of her biggest and most ambitious projects is teaching her class how to start 'businesses'
She starts to work with her kids around mid-year. Each student is asked to come up with a business idea, either on their own or as team. The kids are asked to figure out what it will cost to start the business, how they will finance the cost, how they will price the goods and what kind of profit they expect to make.
Once it is decided that the business is viable, the students have to come up with a suitable name, tagline and design a logo, which is all printed on a business card. Once the foundation is laid out, Anne sets aside time each week, to further refine the ideas and to help students to start 'manufacturing' their inventory if necessary.
Towards the end of the school year, the children hold a mock trial, where they get to sell their wares to their friends. Using 'bead" currency earned from Anne throughout the year for good behavior, class participation, timely homework etc, the students get to act as customers and critics of their classmates businesses.
The trial is not only a great time for the kids to show off their products to their classmates, but also to figure out if they need to 'tweak' their business models for the final D-Day.
The big business day coincides with the Edna's Open House for parents. While parents in other classes quietly admire their children's work, Anne's Room 18, is buzzing with excitement as the kids, some dressed in suits, proudly display their wares and wait for the customers to roll in.
This year, the business ideas ranged from a newspaper outlining the profiles of each 'business' and their founders ('Kids Cool News), to bakeries filled with homemade goods (Wow's Bakery and AP Desserts) to a gift shop selling customized bookmarks and handmade jewelry (Sona's and Jessica's Gift Wonderland).
Armed with 'unlimited ' bead currency from Anne, the parents filed in, ready to 'shop till they dropped'. For the next two hours Room 18 became the hub of business activity as the beaming third-graders, tasted the success of entrepreneurship. They calculated correct change, gladly accepted tips and even tried to get rid of slow-selling items with discounts. As word got out, students and parents from the other classes started to pile in and the night would have never ended, but for the fact that most businesses were so successful, that they had nothing left to sell!
Tired but jubilant, the kids of room 18 went home, dying to come back to school the next morning to count their ' bead profits' and see how well they all did .......and dream about the day when they would own their own successful businesses. With such early encouragement and help from amazing teachers like Anne, we have no doubt these kids will one day be very successful businessmen and women.
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