Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Promote entrepreneurial skills in children

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
21 August 2021   |   3:04 am
Gone are the days when children were trained in schools, with the sole aim of graduating with good grades in order to acquire good jobs.

Gone are the days when children were trained in schools, with the sole aim of graduating with good grades in order to acquire good jobs.

PHOTO CREDIT: One Nigerian Mum

Times have changed. We are in a digital age. More people are now struggling for fewer job opportunities, says teen parenting coach, Hellen Olukoju-Oladele.

Olukoju-Oladele is also a counsellor and lead trainer at The Redirect Academy.

Jack Ma, once said, that in 2030, no fewer than 800 million jobs would be taken over by machines, which means there will be massive unemployment. It is important for parents to prepare their children for global relevance and successful individuals, by inculcating entrepreneurial skills in them early in life.

According to Olukoju-Oladele, entrepreneurial skills are made up of both technical (hard) skills and soft skills, including leadership, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, planning, teamwork, time management and people management.

For her, play is an essential part of a child’s life that encourages and develops entrepreneurial skills.

“This might sound funny and simple, but I can tell you that it is when your child plays, you will see lots of innate talents on display. Unfortunately, the digital age has taken over and children spend more time behind televisions and gadgets than physical play with other children,” she said.

She said children tend to display raw skills when they play. Such talents include, “problem-solving and critical thinking.”

This helps them to improvise and make do with materials they have for what they need, while teamwork allows them assign roles to themselves easily and work together happily.

It also promotes leadership qualities as one just assumes that position to lead the group seamlessly. It improves communication and listening skills too. Children develop conflict resolution skills, where they disagree and agree in between occasional fight and makeup.

Play also encourages interpersonal skills, as children don’t need to know each other from anywhere before they play together. Once they are of the same age bracket, and one is bold enough to take the first step, the rest is history.

The benefits of play cannot be over-emphasised. Apart from the fact that it helps in their mental development, it helps them build life skills, if properly nurtured and it will be a great deal of help to them now and in the future.

As children are allowed to play, they should be supervised. Children cannot be left on their own. Parents should also do the following to encourage entrepreneurial skills in their children:
•Study your child when he/she plays. This will enable you to identify his or her strength, natural abilities and what he loves to do.

•Support them. Provide space and materials for them to play with. They will make a mess, but patience is key. Be their number one cheerleader and help them maintain a positive attitude.

• Intentionally build soft skills by teaching, registering them in learning centres. Engage them in decision-making at home. Ask open-ended questions. Don’t rescue all the time, allow them to fall and learn from it.

•Allow them to learn handwork or a vocation. Whatever their interest lays, enrol them in a vocational centre, where they meet other children or people. Interacting with others can help them, as there are some things they wouldn’t learn in the confines of their homes. Be it interior design, hair making, automobile repairs or cloth-making, will set them up for life if they follow it through.

•Teach them the business aspect of their gifts or vocation. There is always a business aspect of everything we do. The earlier we introduce them to our children, the better.

•Communicate often with children. It is sad that we don’t reckon with children’s opinions and we don’t engage them in meaningful conversation. Teach them a polite way to talk to people, starting by being polite with them, respect their opinion, and disagree with their opinion without damaging their self-esteem.

• Allow them to try out new things, develop a reading culture early in them, expose them to the world through books, movies and travelling.