Success Story: Developing Entrepreneurship Curriculum for Elementary Students — Q&A with Belinda Wells

Let’s face it. Rallying elementary students to focus on a common goal can be challenging—especially from a distance. But the challenge can be made easier when the common goal is something students are passionate about—like their own business ideas. 

Entrepreneurship engages young students not just in their classrooms (or virtual classrooms), but also in their communities, by teaching them to observe the world around them and creatively solve some of the problems they encounter.

Teaching elementary entrepreneurship curriculum isn’t solely about introducing principles of business, but rather about teaching students how to adapt to the ever-changing world around them by developing an entrepreneurial mindset—a mindset that embraces creativity, resiliency, and accepts learning from failure. To learn more about elementary school entrepreneurship curriculum, we connected with Belinda Wells, entrepreneurship educator at Grandview Elementary School, part of Leander ISD, in Leander, TX. Read on for her take on what’s most important for elementary entrepreneurship curriculum and how the freshINC program can aid in your elementary students’ growth, propel their self-confidence, and advance their ideas.

Q&A with Belinda Wells

Belinda-WellsWells is an experienced entrepreneurship educator based in Leander, TX, welcoming more than 100 students to her classroom each year. She is passionate about early entrepreneurship education and has helped pave the way for countless elementary and middle school students to take learning into their own hands, embrace an entrepreneurial mindset, and bring their business ideas to life.

Q. Why should schools introduce entrepreneurship education to elementary school students? What are its benefits?

A. This program is an open door of opportunities for our young learners. It exposes them to authentic problem solving with a choice of issues and solutions. Students become wide awake to their world as they select real-life problems to creatively solve. It gives them a voice of action and allows them to be heard and respected.

Blog Post:  Deeper Learning by Instilling Purpose


Q. What skills do elementary students learn in freshINCedu?

student entrepreneurs

A. Students learn hard skills like the ability to conduct targeted research centered on their product or service. They learn to glean information that supports their ideas and process it into cause and effect, main ideas with supporting details, and persuasive writing techniques. They learn math that incorporates financial literacy skills such as measuring and monitoring cost, expenses, and profit.

Soft skills flow naturally through learning how to be an entrepreneur, as relevant problems are solved through critical thinking and creativity. Students' solutions are messy at first, as they brainstorm ideas and create plans while learning to value and listen deeply to their teammates. The process is recursive. They often think they have a solution only to realize they need to do some market research or quality control.

"Soft skills flow naturally through learning how to be an entrepreneur, as relevant problems are solved through critical thinking and creativity."

~ Belinda Wells

The application of these hard and soft skills is tied together in learning effective presentation skills. Many students have requested help in this area.

I find it powerful that they realize the importance of public speaking and engaging their audience. We have elicited guest speakers, such as our speech and language teacher, a business leader, and our district’s communications director to come and show our students how to speak and present effectively.

Presentation skills teach the students how to communicate with confidence and how to be compassionate leaders. One of the most valuable benefits of this program is that it lays the groundwork to grow students as leaders.

2018-03-01 Irving ISD freshINCedu - Students w Laina McDonald

"One of the most valuable benefits of this program is that it lays the groundwork to grow students as leaders."

~ Belinda Wells

Q. Why are these skills important today?

A. Students often do academic work without knowing why or how it will benefit them outside of earning a good grade. Authentic application of those skills is missing. As an experienced teacher, I see entrepreneurship students going above and beyond the required state standards. As one of my past students said, “Mrs. Wells, this is real work. Work that will prepare me for the future.”

Q. How has teaching entrepreneurship changed in response to distance learning?

2016-05-01 B220 FreshINCedu - Team 03_600x600

A. Currently, I am teaching a hybrid model, and it has not stopped us. I am so impressed by the students’ agility and willingness to shift gears. They weren’t deterred! The student business teams are collaborating in Zoom breakout rooms. Guest speakers and mentors find that meeting within this format is more manageable than arranging schedules to meet on campus. There are benefits!

Q. Tell us about one of the most rewarding experience you've witnessed from freshINCedu students over the years.

A. Last spring, COVID closed our schools. My students had completed about three weeks of the freshINCedu curriculum when they were told they did not have to complete the program. We wanted to make sure the core content was addressed, but the students' mental health and stress levels were our primary concern.

It was the students who decided they wanted to complete their businesses. Who was I to turn them down? The work was hard, but they did not back down from the hard work. They exceeded my expectations. The pitch panel of community leaders was speechless. To be honest, I was speechless. That experience taught me to trust my students … and then to get out of their way.


Creating a Better & Kinder Place to Live

The modern classroom may not look like it used to as many students, teachers, and parents adjust to at-home learning or hybrid models.  The freshINCedu curriculum gives educators the materials and support to provide a robust entrepreneurship experience for your elementary school students.  The program ladders to mxINCedu for middle school, and INCubatoredu for high school. 

Regardless of the entry point, teaching students how to creatively solve problems and launch a new business idea from scratch can help set the foundation for successful futures.

As Wells puts it, “Teaching entrepreneurship to elementary students reminds me of faceting a diamond. It is ugly at first. Then, slowly, the brilliance evolves as students move through the steps towards achieving their ultimate goal: Building a product or service that makes the world a better and kinder place to live.”

See if freshINCedu is Right For Your School