After watching a documentary on the health effects of obesity, Estrella Hernandez felt hopeless for the prospects of America’s youth.
But after pondering it for a few weeks, she also felt inspired. And soon, she had an idea that might help solve the problem: an app that fights childhood obesity by gamifying physical activity and health. She got to work—and soon, today, her app We Walk has received more than $200,000 in funding and is set to launch in the Apple store this spring.
Oh, and Hernandez is 13.
As this young developer shows, an entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just something you find in adults with startup companies and well-seasoned careers; it’s something we should be encouraging in our children and students from a very young age. After all, if we want the kids of today to create new inventions and technologies, improve our society, and affect real, viable change, then we need to not only inspire their creative thinking and innovation, but also give them avenues to turn that into to actionable tools.
Hernandez was part of program doing just that: Nonprofit organization VentureLab, based in San Antonio, helps foster an entrepreneurial spirit and inner drive in children as young as five. This focus helps young people develop key skills that can help them launch their own startup, create their own inventions, and solve major problems facing society today.
But programs like VentureLab aren’t the only way to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit in our kids. There’s actually quite a lot you can do all on your own, and it all starts with “Take Your Child to Work Day.” By taking your child to work with you on April 24, you can establish yourself as a role model not just in the home, but on their career path, too.
Here are a few other steps you can take to further encourage big-picture thinking and entrepreneurship, even when “Take Your Child to Work Day” is long past.
Inspire Their Creativity
Instead of playing video games or watching cartoons, give your kids the tools they need to be truly creative. Stock up on craft items like crayons, markers, colored paper, and glue, and give them plenty of books, pictures, and inspirational material to get their minds going.
Encourage Their Ideas
No matter how crazy your kids’ ideas are, encourage them. Maybe they want to build a rocket ship in your living room. Maybe they can to create a new game that involves their dog. Whatever it is, get actively involved, and help guide their way through the process. Even if the idea doesn’t pan out, your encouragement and support will help give them the confidence they need to continue creating and innovating later on down the line.
Ask Them Questions and Get Them Curious
Curiosity is one of the most important attributes of a true entrepreneur. It inspires them to continue learning and growing, and it keeps them engaged and excited about the possibilities of the world at large. Try inspiring your children’s creativity by talking with them about what they see, hear, and experience or by encouraging them to speak up and ask questions at home and in school.
Get Them Involved in Your Own Work
You’re more than just a parent; you’re a driven, smart and career-minded person, too. Be sure to show your kids that side of you, and get them actively involved in your work. Now, don’t go so far as to let them file your reports or send an email to your boss, but if you’re forced to bring work home on the weekends, take a minute or two to walk them through exactly what you’re doing. Tell them the why, show them the how, and let them see just where hard work can get them.
Enroll Them in a Program or Class
Find a program like VentureLab in your area, or look into classes or clubs at your local library, their school, or even a nearby community college or university. These can give your child an opportunity to meet other likeminded individuals, as well as inspire their inner creativity and drive.
Start at a Young Age
Don’t be afraid to encourage your children to push past their limits and outside their comfort zone at a young age. You’d be surprised at how many children will rise up to meet the challenge, even when the bar is set pretty high. They want to achieve, they want to be successful, and they want you to see them do it.
There are tons of ways you, as a parent, can help your child succeed. Encouraging entrepreneurship and creativity are definitely at the top of the list. These skills set the foundation for a successful life, and give your child the tools they need to create innovative, unique solutions and products that can change the world.