The financial crisis of 2007-2008 taught us a great many things. Money is fragile and we all need a better understanding of finances. There is no better place to start this process than 5th grade at The Woods Academy. This year we added a formal course for our 5th graders called, Business School.
Personal Finance, Investing, Public Speaking and Entrepreneurship are the main topics covered in this very interactive class. Students learn the value and ways in which their money is earned, grown and preserved. A portfolio of investments, using fictional dollars, are invested by student led groups using principles like “investing in what you know”, diversifying investments and investing for the “long haul.” An interactive web document tracks the growth and performance of the portfolio of each group. Most have outperformed the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 this year. Pretty impressive! Additionally, ethics is taught in relation to caring for our money and that of others. Responsibility matters and it is better to start them young on this concept.
Public speaking skills are developed with an emphasis on verbal and non-verbal communication. The culminating project with this unit is a recitation of Martin Luther King. Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This exercise comes complete with a lesson on constructive critiquing of a presenter. Lessons learned better than a session with Simon Cowell. All this public speaking prep and investment research helps the students prepare for the entrepreneurship unit.
Students then brainstorm and create their own businesses that they run at school. Business plan development, presentation to the “Shark Tank” and accounting for their operations are all part of the experience. The businesses have enjoyed great success and they have each learned from a failure or two. The future is bright with leaders like the 5th graders at The Woods Academy. Our Business School students are ready to be the responsible and creative leaders of tomorrow.