Homeschool Exercise: Opportunity Recognition

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Written By Brad Dennis, Ph.D.

(Originally published on Gab.)

Participating in entrepreneurship activities can be a great way to jump-start your child’s creative thinking and help them reach their career goals. While it may seem intimidating, developing an entrepreneurial mindset can be done with some intentional effort! This exercise helps kids recognize potential opportunities by training the eye for what could lead to success – all within 30 minutes or less, so it is easy to incorporate into your homeschool day.

Opportunity Recognition

Task #1: Tell your kids they have ten minutes to go around the house, or the yard, to sit and ponder, to do whatever, but come back in 10 minutes with one problem that your family experiences with a chore or a frequent gripe, or anything they might think is a problem. These could be anything from grass growing too fast, a creaky door, a slippery step, or a doggy doo getting stepped in.

Notes for Parents:
– Set a timer and have them seek for the whole ten minutes. Ten minutes isn’t some magic or required number, but if your kids come up with an idea too quickly, they won’t spend any time intentionally looking for opportunities, which is what we want to practice.
– Make sure to defer any judgment. Avoid contributing or expanding on their problems. Praise their effort, e.g. “Wow, I can see you thought about that!” or “You must’ve been looking hard to find that problem! That’s awesome!”.

Task #2: Have your kids spend 3-5 minutes brainstorming together who else might have each problem (one session per problem)
– Set a timer for three or five minutes.
– At the end of the session, have them select which people the problem might impact the most.

Notes for Parents:
– Tell your kids the rules for brainstorming:
– Defer judgment (no one says if an idea is good or bad)
– Focus on quantity over quality
– Crazy ideas are welcome
– Encourage them to build upon each other’s ideas

The entrepreneur process doesn’t end here, but this is a good place to conclude this exercise. Your kids are probably pretty excited or having fun (if done right), and it could be fun to give them an outlet to talk about their ideas for solutions or how much someone might pay. One of the problems my kids came up with was “Not enough room for a Christmas tree,” After brainstorming and voting on who was impacted the most, we narrowed in on people in the Space Station. We then looked to see how astronauts spent Christmas, and they do have trees, but it was super fun closing out the task with a little bit of “conclusion”.

If you do choose to do this exercise, I’d love to hear your results or feedback.

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