If you’ve been reading this space lately, it’s probably clear that it’s been a rough year. I like having things just so, and almost nothing is “just so” these days. My daughter has not been doing a classical or Charlotte Mason or even insipid Common Core curriculum. She’s been doing workbooks and lots of documentaries and books on tape. We’re trying to get things back on track, but it’s gonna take time.
Meanwhile, I find myself unschooling by accident. And for my daughter, that’s working out better than I thought.
She has always liked making things. This year she realized that adults don’t like the things she made out of those disposable craft kits for kids. So she started asking for nicer supplies. She really enjoys making beaded bracelets, so when she asked to move beyond pony beads, I took her to Jo-Ann’s and she bought (with her own money) some strands of beads and plastic elastic cording. She set to work and made a few really cute bracelets, and I offered to open her an Etsy store. And it ended up being one of the most educational things we’ve ever done with her.
Some of things she’s learned:
-how to make patterns
-lots of family history because Bourys are almost genetically business owners and there are some great inspirational stories to tell
-how to choose color palettes
-how to advertise her merchandise (through her parents’ Facebook profiles, but also by having me “model” bracelets when I go places. I’ve sold a couple right off my wrist.)
-how to pursue outside investment (thanks Taita! She bought her a bunch of beads this past summer to commission a necklace.)
-that promises you make in business can’t be broken without penalties (Sorry Taita! She didn’t like making necklaces. So now she has to pay back $80.)
-how to research design trends (we went to a local department store and examined similar bracelets to see how they were constructed, what seemed to be popular colors this year, and how much they charged for them.)
-how to sell her merchandise (how you speak to your customer, how to suggestion sell, etc.)
-how to calculate a sale price that ensures a profit.
-what happens when you spend all your profits on chocolate for you and your brothers without considering future business needs (what happens is you go temporarily bankrupt and have to beg for outside investment from Taita. lol.)
-what happens when you decrease the quality of your product (she strung her remaining beads willy-nilly to use them up… and unsurprisingly, didn’t sell that one.)
-what effect your enthusiasm about your product has on a sale (when she’s chipper and upbeat, she has better luck selling than when she’s in a bad mood.)
-really basic arithmetic (addition/subtraction, multiplication, using currency)
-how to organize her workspace to encourage peak creativity (when she just dumps the beads in a box vs. sorting them out so she can clearly see what supplies she has to work with)
-that’s it’s a good idea to put your things away after a crafting session or you lose all your work to the next rampaging sibling
She’s seven, and she’s learning all that. With all due respect to hard working public and private school teachers, I know she wouldn’t be learning these sorts of critical entrepreneurial skills there. I can already see that there will be lots of lessons in the future. She hasn’t had to deal with a return yet. She might want to invest in her skills by taking a class or reading some how-to books (which might encourage her to actually want to read I hope). She hasn’t had to file taxes. Eventually, she’ll need to start listing these herself, so: photography, using photo editing software, learning to type and navigate the guidelines of an online host, maybe finding local craft shows to go to. Lots to learn!
I’m glad we did it, and I hope my other kids find something that they can grab on to like she did.