Rhea Perry beamed as she related the success stories of an organic farmer, a videographer, a horse trainer and a coach to Amazon sellers.
Their stories are all the more bright because they achieved their success as pre-teens and teens, said Perry, who spoke Friday at a homeschool convention in Nashville.
Perry led a session on entrepreneurship at the Teach Them Diligently convention being held this weekend at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Perry has her own business, Educating for Success, Inc. in Lexington, Alabama, that helps homeschooling parents and students start their own businesses.
Perry encouraged parents at her session Friday to help their children develop an entrepreneurial spirit. She advised allowing children to be involved in setting their schedules and choosing their books. She also emphasized the importance of ensuring that children become independent at completing chores. When parents manage everything for their children and do everything for them, they won’t develop the self-reliance and motivation they need to become good entrepreneurs, Perry said.
Children who are creative and curious and show a knack for leadership by the questions they ask should be treated carefully “so you don’t break their spirit,” Perry said. That’s too often what happens in public schools, where kids face the monotony of sitting at desks all day and those with too much energy are given Ritalin, a medication for ADHD. “We’re frustrating our children and not letting them be who God created them to be,” she said.
Perry also said parents who homeschool should teach their children practical skills in addition to traditional academic subjects. Unless children need calculus for a career like engineering, many of their math lessons should focus on bookkeeping, accounting, finance and statistics, she said. Other practical lessons should focus on copywriting, negotiating, etiquette, customer service and marketing.
Not everyone needs to go to college, Perry said. Children should be presented with other options that won’t lead to them being burdened with college loan debt and salaries that don’t seem worth what they paid for a college education.
Speaking from a Christian perspective, Perry said entrepreneurship gives Christians an avenue for being a positive influence and spreading their faith. She told the story of one of her own children who became an apprentice at age 12 for an auto mechanic who had a shop at his house. The mechanic was an outgoing man who invited customers and others to his church. The experience showed her son how a Christian entrepreneur can have a “marketplace ministry,” she said.