From knitted pumpkins and fairy houses to bracelets and recycled art to bookmarks and Thanksgiving decor, our Business Fair taught us what it’s like to be small business owners. Our students walked a mile (or two) in their parents’ shoes and learned the realities of the workforce and what “hard work” really means.
Our students handcrafted their own products and we gave them the opportunity to sell them to passersby at the Rancho Arts and Crafts Fair in Rancho Santa Margarita. We started off with a few brainstormed ideas and a business plan in order to get everyone out of their comfort zones. We worked together to practice habits that will continue to help our students as they grow up. By explaining to potential buyers why they should make a purchase, our students put to use their “small talk” skills. Our students used these skills to try and convince a sale of their product in a new and unfamiliar environment. Putting these skills to use boosts the courage in our students. The courage to step out and to try something they haven’t, while we provide them with a system of support.
Though it’s not easy, our students also learned that sometimes our audience isn’t interested in what’s being sold. This taught them a valuable lesson about the labor market: what works and what doesn’t. And, in order for our students to succeed in future endeavors, they must ask the critical thinking question, “what is my audience interested in and how can I make that happen?” For the answer, they put in their best efforts to make the necessary changes to better their products for next time.
In this program, we let our students know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Even if their products didn’t sell well at our Business Fair, it doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. Our students have been taught to brush off that loss and keep going, keep trying new things out. These lessons cannot be taught in a regular classroom. They are learned from experiences. They are learned through trial and error. We have given our students the freedom to step outside and try things out in the real world, like at events such as our Business Fair.
It doesn’t matter if it didn’t work out the first time. What matters is that our students learn from their mistakes in a safe environment that allows them the opportunity to grow from their experiences. By creating this safe space to make mistakes, we can continue to hold successful learning events like The Business Fair. We won’t let our kids be knocked down by their mistakes, but give them the space to build themselves back up because without mistakes, we may never get to the right place.