Sweet and Sour Power: What Lemonade Stands Teach Kids About Life and Money
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- By Erica Sandberg
- August 4, 2010
Hot out there? Have a sidewalk? Great! It’s the perfect opportunity for kids to learn what it takes to make a buck. Yup, it’s lemonade stand time. And if you help your children do it right, they’ll gain far more than a few sticky dollar bills at the end of the day. Here’s what it teaches:
Have them brainstorm ways they can get such set-up costs as cups, ice, lemons, and sugar for free or at a reduced price. For example, they may get ice from the freezer rather than buying a pre-made bag, lemons from a neighbor’s tree (with permission, of course). With them, add up what they spend, and explain that they’ll have to sell at least that to come up even.
Resist the urge to jump in and paint signs, beckon neighbors, and man the register. When they take ownership of the operation, their earnings will be a source of true pride. This is not to say you shouldn’t be in the background, especially for the under ten set. However, be there for the more difficult questions and safety supervision, not management. This is their stand, not yours.
So what are they going to sell that 6 ounce cup of lemonade for? Help them determine a sensible price. They should be able to talk this out with you. It won’t be long before they understand that products and services cost something for a reason – it’s not what they want to sell the beverage for, but what it’s worth and how much people are willing to pay.
Standing in front of a product and drumming up business is not easy for all kids. In fact, for most it’s at least a little intimidating. Therefore the very process of selling something is an invaluable learning experience. They will get to know what it feels like to talk to all sorts of people, which will also boost their communication skills.
That work can be fun
Everyone should associate employment with enjoyment, not drudgery. The sooner kids understand that it’s possible to work and still have fun, the better. Of course it may not be a hoot the entire time, and that’s a learning moment too. Pitching sweet drinks with friends to happy customers an ideal way to get these messages across.
That lemons grow on trees—money, not so much
At closing time your children will be holding their profits. It took setting up and breaking down a stand, working under steamy conditions, conversing with friends and strangers, waiting, promoting, giving correct change, and scrambling for more supplies when needed. And so one of the most crucial lessons of all is absorbed: that a dollar is not merely a piece of paper, but a symbol of time, energy and effort. Will they be less apt to waste it? As a mom to a seven-year-old lemonade stand veteran, my answer is yes.