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#4-pronged Approach to Inculcate Entrepreneurial Spirit in Kids through Play There is a severe need for the coming generations to develop entrepreneurial abilities because of the way this world is changing in all respects

By Mridula Shridhar

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Entrepreneurship is an attitude. It doesn't come easy to many, especially in older generations, because of the way we have been brought up and schooled. We have been expected to deliver results based on learned knowledge. Permission and opportunities to experiment, fail and learn were few.

There is a severe need for the coming generations to develop entrepreneurial abilities because of the way this world is changing in all respects. Here are some key factors to building the entrepreneurial spirit, examining the current early years' scenario and seeing how play can inculcate these abilities.

1.Problem-solving: Most people look at their strengths and ask, "I am good at this, so what can I do?". Successful entrepreneurs look at a problem and ask, "How can I solve this?".

Early Years: Children most times are familiarized with things and then tested on the same. They do not face many situations where they are given a new challenge and expected to solve it

Play: When children play both with toys and peers, they come across conflicts that give them the ability to solve problems, rather than changing course because there is a problem. Toys that make children think and reason provide wholesome experiential learning.

2.Focus: Entrepreneurs stick to their guns once they have found a problem to solve. They try all routes, but they stick to their goal. Opportunities to drift into other short-term gains are many in every industry, but that invariably takes the focus away from the main task, distracting one from the main task. Patience and perseverance, the mantras to a successful entrepreneur.

Early Years: Children today find it rather difficult to stay focused on one task at hand, than to the overwhelming number of sensory inputs in the world around them. At a very early age, they start learning to drift from one task to another absorbing a little bit of each along the way producing a Jack of all to some extent but killing the ability to focus on a task at a time

Play: Giving simple toys that focus on one thing at a time have a natural appeal to the child. Simple toys increase attention span and enhance concentration, which is a huge requirement for any venture to succeed.

3.Fearless failure: For an entrepreneur, failure is the way to learn. A mistake resulting in a loss or a hefty fine ensures that a good entrepreneur will learn from it and put it behind, ensuring it does not repeat.

Early Years: Parents and teachers in India often keep correcting children instilling a dislike of failure as well as a fear of being wrong, thus discouraging experimentation.

Play: When children play with self-correcting toys, it enables them to make as many mistakes as they like, repeatedly correcting themselves and figuring their way out. Toys are the most patient teachers and allow children to make repeated mistakes without judging them. Toys also inculcate in children the desire to experiment fearlessly leading to innovative thinking as well.

4.Independence: Many a time, we fail because we are depending on someone else to come in and help us since we have not been taught to teach ourselves, while an entrepreneur will figure a way out and make the best of what she or he can.

Early Years: This is a time when children express a very strong desire to be independent. The desire to walk and become independent is so strong in a baby, makes it happen for every child with no formal training. It is an animal instinct that every little cub and calf has. A young zebra, in fact, stands within a few minutes of its birth and walks in a few hours, thanks to a very high mortality rate due to predators.

Play: Toys that are age appropriate help children sustain this need for independence. Helping them say "I can do this myself". When the toy is too simple, it bores the child, and if it needs constant adult supervision it makes them dependent. It is important to choose the right toy to enable self-learning

Entrepreneurship is about creating new products, new processes, creating new markets and creating new lines of thought. It brings about industrial, commercial and social changes, sometimes all simultaneously.

In early years, playing with the right toys that are self-correcting and challenging can change the way children perceive the world, inculcating many of the required traits effortlessly. Most of all ensuring children enjoy learning, knowing that learning is a constant.

Mridula Shridhar

Co-Founder of Skola Toys

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