For children who are homeschooled, the classroom has no boundaries. Each moment of the day can present a valuable life lesson. Last weekend, I witnessed many opportunities for learning when I attended the 23rd Annual Homeschool Conference with my two granddaughters.
Over 1,000 people, from infants to great-grandmas, attended the 3-day event that included 250 workshops and presentations. The conference catalog accurately describes the experience as “celebrating family, friends, and learning in a joyous festival-like atmosphere.”
I observed an abundance of creativity and entrepreneurship, which is fostered in the homeschool community. This year both of my granddaughters, aged 10 and 6, brought their art to sell at the Artisan Craft Fair, held in the large hotel courtyard on Saturday evening. Children, teens, and adults sat at tables displaying their works of art. My older granddaughter set up a table featuring some of the portraits she’s done with a sign advertising: “Portraits for $3 plus $1 for color.” The younger one’s sign read: “Japanese Origami Fans – Custom Made 25 cents.”
The 10-year old had her first customer just a few minutes after she set up. A father and his daughter admired the samples and offered to sit for a portrait. After she finished drawing five-year old Camille’s portrait, my granddaughter noticed the dad was wearing unusual sunglasses. They were the new Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. He took them off, explained how they worked and let her try them on. He said she could ask questions and the answers would appear on a small camera inside the frame. She asked for the population of Sacramento and “472,000” appeared on the tiny screen.
At the table next to us, a woman displayed delicate charm bracelets she’d made. My granddaughter wanted one but she didn’t have five dollars to buy it. The woman offered to barter with her and they struck a deal. Juliet agreed to draw two portraits of her children in exchange for a light blue bracelet with heart charms.
While all this negotiating was going on, the six-year old was feeling sad because no one was buying her fans. I explained that if your customers aren’t coming to you, then you need to go to them! We gathered up her sign and cup full of fans and began walking around the tables where other vendors and conference attendees were socializing.
I spotted a table of grandparents, walked up to them and began fanning myself with one of the colorful fans.
“It’s so hot this evening. I bet you’d feel a lot cooler with one of these beautiful handmade fans. They’re only a quarter!”
Every grandparent whipped out a quarter, handed it to Amelia, and selected one of the small accordion folded fans. Six sold. Ten more to go! At the next table we repeated the same pitch and she sold another five. Amelia made the pitch to the man at the next table and he bought four, one for each of his kids.
For the last fan, she bartered as her older sister did. She traded her last fan for a chocolate frosted cake pop topped with Jelly Bellys. She was beaming. For our final lesson, we counted out how much she made from her sales. She laid out her quarters on a folding chair and did the math.
“Four dollars!” she exclaimed.
In less than two hours my granddaughters had learned the entrepreneurial skills of marketing, sales, and bartering, while they were having fun making new friends.