Biztown starts with many lessons on how to work in a business. This includes learning about payroll taxes and income and how to write checks and manage a checkbook. The homeschoolers met for weeks ahead of time, preparing for the big day. They had to go to a job interview, and then they were placed in the job that the coordinator thought was best suited for them.
On the big day of Biztown, the kids have to get all dressed up, just like they are really going to work. When they get to Biztown, they have to go to their place of occupation. This year, the Goose was the city planner at the government center. The town includes a bank, McDonald’s, a TV station and radio station, a newspaper (that publishes a paper with articles written by the participants), a hospital, Publix grocery store and more. Each business has a storefront that looks like a real business. The kids are given their jobs that they have to complete. They get two paychecks during the day (not reality). Their paychecks are reduced for income taxes (sad reality). With their paychecks, they have to go to the bank and deposit them. Then, they write checks in the various locations to buy merchandise and snacks. Their lunch is free, which does not help to solidify the whole, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” theory. Both of my kids have participated in this great program, and I they both learned so much.
When the Beetle went for the first time, he was the Supervisor of Elections. His job was to encourage everyone to vote. At the end of the day, he had to get up in front of the whole town and announce how many people had voted and what they voted for. (This little part of his job was wisely hidden from him until about 1 minute before he had to stand up and speak. He did it because I wasn’t there. Since I’ve never seen him speak in public, I’m sure he would have backed out if I had been watching. I’m pretty sure speaking in public in front of me is against his religion.)
Most kids who attend Biztown come home with something. They buy toys, shirts, hats and other goodies with the money they earned on their paychecks. They have to put some in savings and save some to buy a snack and make a donation to the United Way. Otherwise, they are free to spend it however they wish.
For the first year, the Beetle came home with nothing. When I asked him what he did with his money, he said he did nothing with it. I asked if him if he spent anything, and he said no. When I asked him why not, he said it wasn’t fair. I asked him what wasn’t fair, and he said it wasn’t fair that some kids got paid more than others. He said he did not spend any money because it wasn’t fair that the CEO and CFO of each business got paid more than he did. Let’s just call that “Welcome to the Rest of Your Life” Lesson (WTTRYL) #1.
For the Beetle’s second year, he worked in the TV station. He was the camera operator. However, he came home hopping-mad because he ended up doing all the jobs. He said none of the other kids in his business stayed on task or did their jobs so he had to cover for them. Let’s just call that WTTRYL Lesson #2.
This was the Goose’s second year of Biztown. She had a great time but was annoyed by one girl in her business. She said this child acted like she knew everything and would not listen to anyone else. She said even when she was wrong, she insisted that she was right. The Goose said it was frustrating working with someone who wouldn’t listen to others. This was WTTRYL #3. (And, I told the Goose that I was very familiar with being around someone who thought she was right all the time. The Goose did not find humor in that, which was fine, because I wasn’t kidding.)
This year, the Goose said she worked all day but could not get her job done completely. She said it was stressful, but that she realized she could only do what she could do. I’m pretty sure that was a direct quote from me. (It is what it is.) We’ll just label that as WTTRYL #4.
I think it’s funny how tired my kids were when they came home after a day of work. They “worked” for a total of 5 hours in the business, with 3 30-minute breaks. It was a hard job, but someone had to do it. I’m pretty sure after the hard day’s work, the Goose will be trying to get out of helping with dishes tonight because she is just too tired.
I love that my kids get to participate in activities like this. I think there is so much more to be learned by doing than by being told. Biztown puts real-life business into action to let kids learn what it is like to work in the real world. They probably learned more from their lessons leading up to Biztown and from the day at Biztown that they will get from me all school year. (Or at least more than they will admit that they learned from me, little button-pushers that they are….)
If you want to learn more about Biztown, you can check out their website HERE. -Al