What is Kids 2 Market?
Hi, I’m Stacey Piercey.
I’m the creator of Kids 2 Market. I have been an entrepreneur for over 15 years and a homeschool parent to three boys for over a decade.
My program teaches kids from six to 17 how to start a business with an idea they are passionate about.
I started by focusing on skills I noticed were lacking from the curriculum I used to homeschool my own children. Skills like critical thinking, problem solving, creative solutions, resiliency and perseverance. Although there were projects and assignments with these learning objectives built in, but they lacked a personal connection to the learning. I noticed my own children would go through the motions to complete the work but not a lot of retention occurred. Not to mention they complained they were bored with the learning outcomes.
However, when it came to creating a small business to make their own money, they were all in! Motivation wasn’t a problem and the learning they got from simply putting up a lemonade stand was astounding. If I created a mock lemonade stand business and taught them all the same information, they would go through the motions and become bored. Every time.
It was the idea of making their own money, which in turn became an internal drive to create something people want to buy, which leads to an understanding of commerce, economy, goods and services, customer service and money management. All from being told “you can make your own money”.
When it came to creating a program I wasn’t sure it would have the same impact. Starting a business with my own children was one thing, but could it be taught to other children?
This whole idea of a young entrepreneurs program started with a community of families I knew really well. I was part of a homeschool coop and I had volunteered to teach a class to a group of children ages 6 to 10. I had taught the age group before in previous years but chose different topics like dance, coding and fitness.
I had volunteered to teach again, but this time I wanted to teach something that would help the families in the program. What do the parents wish I would teach? What would provide deep learning and have an impact?
After 10 years of homeschooling I was still hearing parents ask the same questions over and over again:
- How do you get your kids to do the work?
- She just isn’t interested in math, I’ve tried 3 different programs.
- He still isn’t reading – should I be worried?
- How can I get them to be interested in something; anything?!
BUT, one BIG question stood out among them all:
“Am I preparing my child for success?”
Parents were looking for those 21st century skills we know are needed for jobs we can’t even imagine exist yet. Of course they need to know how to read and write and use math – even if they struggled to get them to do it.
What these parents were looking for was how to teach them perseverance, independence, self-direction, critical thinking, creative problem solving, resilience and confidence.
I had recently read about a children’s business fair at a local private school and thought it was a brilliant idea. I myself was an entrepreneur, my husband owned his own business and I had spent most of my professional life helping other entrepreneurs build their businesses. This, I could do!
The private school, like many other programs, offered the opportunity to older children. When I presented the idea to the support teachers for our homeschool coop they clarified, with their eyebrows raised, “for grades 1 – 5? Are you sure?”.
I assured them I could make it work. I knew these kids. But secretly I worried this was going to be a hot mess. The kids wouldn’t get it, they wouldn’t engage or even understand, and we’d spend 5 weeks ‘pretending’ to start businesses just to kill time.
Add the fact that teaching younger kids is not simple, as any early elementary teacher will tell you. You have to keep them engaged and focused while keeping it super fun. Add a neuro-diverse population and it feels darn near impossible! Chaos comes to mind.
I was wrong. On all counts.
The first class finished and I was astounded! These kids jumped on this. They ate it up. They were ALL ready to start a business. Some had no idea to start with, but by the time the first class was over they were inspired to be back the next week with a prototype to pitch to the class. They would figure it out.
Complete engagement. Complete commitment.
Fast forward 10 weeks and each child accomplished a full business from idea creation, to ready for sale, in 5 classes of only 45 minutes each.
I had 30+ kids keen and ready to launch their great ideas the day of the fair and not one backed out.
The feedback the day of the business fair blew my mind!
“This is amazing! I didn’t think anyone would buy my stuff!”
The children’s business fair was literally thrown together with tables in a gym. They invited friends and family only – no public advertising. What I didn’t expect was the response, both from the children and those that attended the fair.
“This is the best idea I’ve seen in years. I can’t tell you how much she’s learned. I’ve never seen her so excited to work on anything else.”
What came next was a deluge of requests for another one the following year. So that’s was I did. Year 2 was even more successful but now with a bit more experience I was able to refine the process, add in more financial literacy and get them looking at their new business as building value. Their passion could change someone’s life – even if only to bring a little joy.
This became a powerful message for the whole program. ‘How can you add value?’ Instead of, ‘how can I get you to buy?’. I discovered it’s natural for children to want to please and make others happy. Creating a business from their passion becomes the perfect vehicle to share as much of that passion as possible.
However the biggest takeaway I got from the second (and third and fourth) time around was that the spark that makes it work – the secret sauce, is the business fair. Or any market place to be honest.
Without the experience of selling their product to someone, anyone, the learning has little to no context. They need to see it through to the end. They NEED to sell their product to a person and receive money for that product. Live. In Person.
Essentially, every kid needs a lemonade stand. Or homemade soap stand. Or a fake barf stand (yes that really was a product and it sold out). Whatever their bright idea, making sure every child has a market to sell their idea opens a whole world of possibilities before their eyes.