Entrepreneurship Homeschool Curriculum Guide

When it comes to developing real world life skills, integrating with tons of academic subjects at once, and simply being fun, we don’t think many topics deliver the bang-for-your-buck entrepreneurship does.

Emily Veno
May 31, 2023

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community.

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” -Milton Berle

When you imagine someone who is “entrepreneurial", you might first think of Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, or even Madam C.J. Walkersuccessful celebrities and historical figures known for their vast riches, lasting companies, and big ideas that changed the world. But you don’t need to start a Fortune 500 company to be an entrepreneur.

Perhaps you might also think of a small business owner you know, somebody who, through good-old-fashioned hard work, provides for their family and contributes to their community. Or maybe you think of somebody who isn’t a business owner at all; rather, they simply have an entrepreneurial spirit, always using their critical thinking skills and creativity to generate new ideas, solve problems, and raise profits within an organization.

All kids should have a chance to develop an entrepreneurial mindset as part of their education. We’ve only grown to believe this more in the 3 years we’ve spent building this new kind of school! Beyond our curriculum that encourages middle and high schoolers to build their own businesses (more about that below), one of our favorite aspects of building Prisma has been inviting kids to be part of watching a startup develop from a young age.

At the beginning, we didn’t understand the unique learning experience it would be for learners to suggest new program elements and have them implemented, user test new features, coin terms like “Prismarians” and “Prismaland,” and watch how mistakes can be turned into opportunities to learn.

Even if they don’t run their own startups someday, (though we bet a few of them will!) we hope learners’ experiences at Prisma will prepare them to create their own opportunities, get messy, build new solutions, and persist through setbacks to leave the world better than they found it.

In this blog post, we’ll explain why we think entrepreneurial skills are so essential, and give you concrete ideas for developing young entrepreneurs.

Why Should Kids Learn Entrepreneurship?

Experts estimate that a whopping 16% of the US workforce are entrepreneurs. Given that statistic, it’s surprising entrepreneurship isn’t a required topic in American schools. So, beyond the simple fact that many young people will grow up to be entrepreneurs, why else should students learn entrepreneurship?

  1. Even if you don’t grow up to start your own business, understanding how a successful business runs from an early age is preparation for adult life. Regardless of their future career paths, all kids should have the basic financial literacy to understand the difference between a successful business and a struggling one. Whether they run a simple lemonade stand or develop a detailed business plan, understanding the basics of profits, losses, and investment empowers kids to avoid scams, choose employers wisely, and think critically about advertising.
  2. Entrepreneurship connects every school subject to the real world. Kids can learn math through money management, social studies through economics & business law, English through writing persuasive advertising copy, technology through engineering products & designing websites, and art through creating logos & graphics. (Read more about the power of interdisciplinary learning here.)
  3. The entrepreneurial mindset encourages initiative, critical thinking, and problem-solving — vital life skills in our fast-paced, rapidly evolving world. We believe school should be about more than traditional academic subjects alone, and we think entrepreneurial experiences prepare kids to become the adaptable, innovative change makers our future society needs most.
  4. Kids don’t have to wait— they can be entrepreneurs today. There are countless examples of successful kid entrepreneurs, running everything from jewelry companies to nonprofits fighting homelessness. Every opportunity for entrepreneurship education could be the shot a young person needs to start making a real impact!
  5. Kids love it! At Prisma, we strongly believe that kids should love school, and that the goal of education should be to create lifelong learners. We find that kids love learning about entrepreneurship because they clearly see its relevance to the real world, and they can easily connect any entrepreneurship unit to their interests!


Strategies for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Kids at Prisma Middle School and Prisma High School have the opportunity to go through our Build a Business theme, where they earn badges in basic business concepts and develop their own businesses.

Here are some of our favorite parts of our entrepreneurship curriculum:

  1. Shark Tank: We developed a problem-solving workshop for learners based on the popular TV show Shark Tank. Just like the “sharks” on the show, learners were tasked with maximizing their profits by making careful investment decisions. During each workshop, they watched a fictional business “pitch” and decided whether or not to invest based on the business model. During the next workshop, they’d be told whether the business succeeded or failed, and would calculate how much money they gained or lost. Not only was this fun for the kids, it also provided exposure to many different business models, which could help inspire their own businesses. Plus, it was a great opportunity for math practice!
  2. Basic economics concepts: Before developing their business ideas, learners completed an Economics Mission where they mastered concepts like supply & demand, profit & loss, and the difference between a product and a service. Our learners especially enjoyed playing this classic lemonade stand game as part of the mission. Understanding these concepts made it more likely that their business plans would be feasible, while also covering essential social studies standards.
  3. Expert guests: We invited several successful entrepreneurs, including kidpreneurs, our own startup founders, and small business owners to speak with the Prisma learners during the Build a Business theme. A holistic, real-world education should include access to mentors with interesting careers. And one of the coolest things about attending a virtual school is that you can meet with experts from all over the world!

Step-by-Step Guide to Project-Based Entrepreneurship Homeschooling

The bulk of our Build a Business theme centered around the project where kids, well...built a business. Here were the steps kids followed:

  1. Exploration of passions & talents: We kept the type of businesses kids could start as open-ended as possible. In the real world, nobody would start a business they didn’t care about! Kids brainstormed a list of their skills, interests, and hobbies they might want to incorporate into their business.
  2. Market research: Kids researched the competitive landscape for their area of interest, discovering what businesses already exist, and identifying each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. They developed a profile of their target customer.
  3. Customer research: Learners conducted interviews with potential customers and ran surveys using Google Forms, asking people in their target market what problems they had that needed solving, what they would be looking for in a solution, and what they might be willing to pay.
  4. Business idea brainstorm: Using the information gathered in the initial steps, learners brainstormed potential business ideas to meet the needs of their target customer. They decided whether they’d rather work alone on their business, or partner up as co-founders with a peer.
  5. Business plan: The next step was to develop a more detailed business plan, including a customer story and kid-friendly financial model (projected costs, desired profits, and proposed pricing of the product or service based on the projected costs).
  6. Branding: Kids studied what goes into a powerful brand, then developed their own name, logo, and slogan for their business.
  7. Testing: Depending on the type of business learners were launching, they either made a prototype of their product to test with customers, or did practice runs of their service with surveys for customers after each test. Based on how the test went, they iterated on their business plan.
  8. Website: Learners used a Google Site template to create a website for their business. Each website featured an About page, Pricing page, and a Testimonials page. Some learners chose to flex their technology skills further by developing an even fancier website.
  9. Pitch: Each learner or pair of learners developed a slide deck and practiced a verbal pitch for their business to present at Prisma’s Expo Day, which happens at the end of each learning cycle. This was a great way to bring oral presentation skills into the entrepreneurship curriculum.
  10. Digital Marketplace: We created a directory of all the Prisma businesses for parents, staff, and peers to explore each other’s websites and buy products. We think having an opportunity to share one’s business with the world and feel the joy of customers supporting your hard work is an essential end to any youth entrepreneurship experience!
  11. Reflection: Of course, not all of the Prisma learners ended up continuing with the business they started during the Build a Business theme. We don’t see this as a failure. Learners reflected on how they developed an entrepreneurial mindset during the theme, and how these skills (like creativity, critical thinking, financial literacy, and presentation) can help them in the future, regardless of where they go next.

And believe it or not, all of that happened in just 6 weeks! When it comes to developing real world life skills, integrating with tons of academic subjects at once, and simply being fun, we don’t think many topics deliver the bang-for-your-buck entrepreneurship does.

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