Grooming little bosses to 'run' their own business

Ms Grace Tan with her pupils. She said those who attend the Little Bosses Boot Camp will be able to use the skills they have learnt to make the transition to primary school, where they will be handling real money on their own for the first time. 
Ms Grace Tan with her pupils. She said those who attend the Little Bosses Boot Camp will be able to use the skills they have learnt to make the transition to primary school, where they will be handling real money on their own for the first time. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Boot camp for kids aged 5-9 to learn life skills, like money management

Children as young as five will soon learn how to "run" their own business. 

An education centre here plans to start a boot camp next year to teach young children how to draft a budget, manage profit margins and even handle unreasonable customers. 

Learning Journey Education Centre in Serangoon North will hold the five-day Little Bosses Boot Camp in June and December. 

Centre founder Grace Tan, 34, explained: "Children often have the most creative and ingenious ideas, so why not give them a chance to bring these ideas to reality?"

She decided to introduce the camp after receiving requests from parents to hold holiday programmes which impart life skills, such as managing money and public speaking, but in a fun and engaging setting. 

Through the children's proposed business plans, which may include starting up a small restaurant or a retail shop, the boot camp will cover financial literacy topics such as budgeting of funds, as well as socio-emotional ones such as dealing with difficult customers or bullies. 

"They will learn the importance of saving money and saving up for a rainy day," said Ms Tan, who is pursuing her master's degree in early childhood education at the National Institute of Education. 

She noted that the camp will also help younger children make the transition to primary school. 

"When they enter primary school, they will be handling real money on their own for the first time, buying food from the canteen and items from the bookshop," she added. "They have to know how to spend their money wisely."

Besides making decisions, children in the programme will also get to hone their public speaking skills through the presentation of their ideas, practise addition and subtraction in the handling of funds and learn to work alongside others. 

The non-residential camp is open to children aged between five and nine years old. It will cost $400, and is limited to 30 children per camp. 

Over the five days, they will attend mini-lectures and discuss their business ideas in groups. The facilitators will then study the feasibility of their plans and suggest improvements.

At the end of the programme, participants will have five minutes to present their proposals. 

While registration for the camp has not started, some parents have already expressed interest. 

These parents noted that the programme would allow their child to acquire non-academic skills, such as public speaking and working with others, and learn values like responsibility. 

"As parents, we want to prepare our children for real-life situations," said business consultant Saffy Tan, 34, who has two children aged five and eight.

"It is important to expose them to such life skills, which may not be covered in the classrooms."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Grooming little bosses to 'run' their own business'. Print Edition | Subscribe