Learning from a Lemonade Stand

lemonade standPhoto Credit: EvinDC / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Today my two daughters decided that they were going to setup a lemonade stand at the end of the driveway. The oldest (now 6) made up a very cute sign complete with a sketch of a lemonade pitcher, colored in with her Crayola pencils. The youngest (4) helped stir the lemonade and carry out the styrofoam cups.

As I type this, they are sitting on two kids-sized chairs at their kid-sized table at the end of the driveway. It’s very cute, and I think the lessons they are learning from this are helpful.

What exactly are they learning?

  1. They are learning that we’ll help them understand what they need to do, but we won’t do it for them. My wife cut the lemons and squeezed the juice out because the kids just aren’t strong enough yet to do this job. But they finished the task of making the lemonade. They made the sign. They carried everything out to the driveway.
  2. They are learning to interact with customers on their own, without any adult help. We’re not sitting beside them offering babysitting support. If an adult asks them a question, they have to answer it. If they don’t know how to make change, they can ask their customer for help. It’s their little business (until they grow bored) and they are running the show.
  3. They are learning to solve the little problems they run into. Like when the tape holding their sign to the table wasn’t strong enough to fight off the wind. They start to learn that sometimes ideas don’t work out as perfectly as they had in mind. This teaches them to start to think of potential complications up front (next time).
  4. They are learning that not everyone is willing to pay for everything. They’ve attracted a number of customers (mostly kind neighbors), but they also get to observe people who read the sign and then leave. I think it’s good for them to see this. They’re learning that people can say “no” to you in non-verbal ways.

And guess what? Other kids are learning too. One family from down the street just walked by. The mother of a 5-year old boy did a wonderful job of giving her son some money and telling him to order for himself. I love seeing parents who understand that their kids can learn by transacting at stores.

When my daughters are all done with the lemonade stand I’ll be sure to have a casual chat with both of the girls. I’ll ask them what they liked about it, and what they didn’t like. I’ll ask them what parts went well, and what problems they experienced. The followup discussion is just another way to help them learn without all the hand-holding during the time that they sit at their little table and chair selling lemonade.

Can I end this post with a confession? I was worried the girls would be disappointed by a lack of street traffic. I worried they might sell absolutely nothing since it’s a quiet Tuesday morning. And if that had happened, so be it. They’ll need to learn about disappointment outside of the family environment. But I was wrong. They’ve practically sold out.

Good for them.

SEE ALSO: This audio lesson will forever change the way you interact with your kids


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