An early journey towards entrepreneurship can immensely help your kids to not only develop a more acute sense for critical thinking but also to have a deeper understanding of a subject which many parents are struggling to explain – boundaries. The sooner your children learn about some basic economic models – like the concept of money – the sooner they will come to terms with all those limits you will eventually have to place upon them.
First things first and before embarking on anything else, it’s crucial for parents to understand that their children are experiencing the world in a much more different way than us as adults. Some things are just so plain obvious to us that we take them for granted. At some point, we simply stopped asking questions. This is precisely why we need to foster critical thinking in children starting at a young age.
Identifying the Stages of Cognitive Development.
Back in the 1960s, Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development became widely popularized, and even though several other studies came to light after that, Piaget’s work in child development remains highly relevant. The theory itself is quite complex – and definitely worth a thorough look – but it basically sets sharps stages for cognitive development and very specific markers to identify each stage.
We’ll just skip the first stage which focuses on sensorimotor reflexes and reactions. Instead, we will talk about what is probably, the best time to begin training and fostering critical thinking with your children, the Intuitive Stage. It usually starts at the age of four, when most kids are able to speak and get incredibly curious about the world which surrounds them and the way things work. They start to develop the most primitive form of reasoning and can – to some extent – respond to logic and causation.
At this age, you can begin explaining to your children the concept of money, and how you need it to buy the things they want and need. This is especially important because it helps to set boundaries which they are able to understand.
Later on and starting at the age of seven, there is the Concrete Operational Stage. Children at this stage have a deeper understanding of logic and can solve specific problems, just like adults would. However, they are still not able to deal with hypotheticals.
At this stage, you can begin guiding your kids to develop an entrepreneurial personality. You can present them a basic business model like setting a lemonade stand or delivering the daily newspaper to the neighbours. They will notice that these activities generate an income, as they will also notice that the more effort they put into it, the more profit they will get.
However, they will not be able to measure other variables like what would happen if they are able to buy cheaper lemons or how much further can they go if they open a newspaper distribution center, but it’s a great start.
Lastly, we have the Formal Operational Stage starting at the age of eleven. Teenagers at this stage start to develop a hypothetical and abstract reasoning. They can answer what-if questions, and think about scenarios that are not necessarily based in reality. As early as this stage, you can guide your kids towards a more interesting side of entrepreneurship – investing. You can teach about savings, simple interest rates, offer and demand, and basic trading.
Observing your child’s personal interests and understanding their motivations are key to the whole critical thinking process. If they are showing bold signs of entrepreneurial maturity and drive, you can even show them a little bit about equity trading.
There are several online trading platforms – such as CMC Markets – where they can learn a great deal about the market and its dynamics. There are risks, of course, but under proper guidance and well-established boundaries, this learning experience could bode incredibly well for your children.