Beyond lemonade: Using summer to teach life skills, entrepreneurship

children entrepreneurship

Confidence and critical thinking are hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs.

They’re also traits my husband and I hope to instill in our wee humans.

So with summer break (aka the time when I’m full-time momming while full-time entrepreneuring) underway, I’ve developed a plan to encourage my children’s entrepreneurial spirit while also having a lot of summertime fun. (Click here for tips on how to mompreneur with kids in the house, from moms who do it.)

We’ll definitely have a lemonade stand this summer. Beyond that, however, I don’t know if my kids will ever start their own businesses.

But as their parent, I will actively nourish the characteristics of entrepreneurship — the desire to solve the world’s problems, the confidence to believe that they can do it and the self-discipline to follow through.

Those aren’t just key to entrepreneurship. They’re fundamental life skills.


These are the items on our daily to-do list.

HELP SOMEONE — As a Christian family, we aim to incorporate “love your neighbor” into everything we do.  Our success rate is far from 100 percent, but it’s a goal. So I added “help someone” to our daily to-do list to encourage our kids to look for opportunities. And Day 1 (yesterday) went SO WELL! My son asked to carry some donations into our church. My youngest daughter raced to open the door for him. My oldest daughter not only asked how she could help me clean out our storage area, but after her task was done, she came back and asked what else she could do. Proud Mommy moment.

CREATE AND INNOVATE — AKA “play.” This might be more of a lesson for me than for them. Given the freedom to do so, my kids will create and innovate all day. My problem is that I interpret “create and innovate” as “Ugh, more mess.” So I’m deliberately letting go of that this summer. When they asked yesterday if they could keep that big box and use scissors to make it into something, my inner self was saying, “Wow, that box takes up a lot of living room space, and I’m not sure about letting them use the sharp scissors.” Then, I just let it go. And not only did they build and create a fun little playhouse, they did it together, mostly cooperatively. When they didn’t cooperate, I let them handle their dispute. So much goodness in that experience. For all of us.

youth entrepreneurship
“Hmmm, I wonder … .”

LEARN — This is the one item on our daily to-do that my kids complain about. Every weekday (more or less) they do 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of math and 20 minutes of spelling/writing. Education is the foundation on which so much is built. I don’t want them to lose ground during summer. (Signing up for the library’s reading program has helped immensely with the reading component at least. Nothing motivates my children like the promise of rewards.)

CHOOSE — This isn’t on the list, so much as a principle I’m using for it. In previous summers, I’ve followed a “to earn electronics time, you must do A, B, C and X, Y and Z first” plan. This summer, I’m giving them more choice. For one thing, there’s more buy-in from them if they’re involved in decisions. For another, there are lessons in their choices, too. Right now, my son is upstairs using up his electronics time. He’ll use it up by 7 a.m. and then won’t get to watch any TV or play video games the rest of the day. Maybe that will bother him; maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s a consequence of a choice he’s made, not one foisted upon him.

EXPLORE — How are they going to actively participate in the world if they never see it? “Explore” can mean any number of things. Yesterday, it meant a petting zoo and the local library. Today? No idea. Discovery is a huge part of exploration.

READ NON-FICTION — My oldest child is currently a “Harry Potter” addict. My middle child is obsessed with Legos, books included. My youngest adores all books that are sparkly, pink and devoted to fairies or unicorns.

children entrepreneurship
There’s really no better place to relax than at the Union Terrace.

I love all that creativity and imagination. However, I also want them to read about an actual person, the history of their sports, the animals they love … . So every time we go to the library, they’re required to choose at least one non-fiction book. They’re loving those, too.

RELAX — I’m a big-time planner, but I fight my tendency to go overboard. My daily to-do list for my kids is pretty long, even if many things on it take only a few minutes. But “you must be productive every second of your life” is not a good lesson either. So, some days, we’re going to toss the whole plan out the window and just go to the beach.

Because, yes, I want to develop my kids’ entrepreneurial skills.

But they shouldn’t lose their childhood in the process.

Does this list work for your family? How would you use it (or change it)? Comment below!

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