When Arielle was in 1st year high school, her elective was Business Math. I couldn’t find a good book for her, I ended up buying local textbook. Not just one but two because there just wasn’t one book that taught the subject in such a way that would keep our interests high. I didn’t like them because they were very textbook-ish! After a short introduction of the topic, a brief explanation, numbered exercises immediately followed. #1, #2, #3… It felt like a math drill and it really looked so BORING! (If I were in a class with these books and a teacher with a monotonous voice, I’d be asleep!) So, Mike and I ended up just looking at the table of contents of the books and choosing topics which we felt were basic enough for her to understand what the math in business is all about. Teaching and learning it didn’t feel “complete”.
Now, it’s Kayla’s turn to do Business Math (she’s on 7th Grade, under K-12) and I didn’t want to use our textbooks again! This time, I searched online hoping I’d find something free. Well, I didn’t but I found one which caught my eye. It was categorized as a Grade 3-6 material though. Nevertheless, I downloaded a free sample, read more about it, and said to myself , “Yup, this would work for Kayla! I can just discuss additional topics and skills she needed to learn for her level as a 7th grader”. It’s Simply Charlotte Mason’s Your Business Math series. It comes with a Teacher Book, too, which helps me guide Kayla as she goes through each topic, each task, as if we’re really running a business.
To begin with, just giving Kayla the options of what kind of store she would like to own and operate already excited her. Choices were a book store, a pet store, and a sport store. She chose a sport store since she’s now into golf with her Papa. I get to also choose whether to get a printed book or an e-book (pdf). I got the pdf format for convenience and as soon as I printed it out, I simply punched holes and filed them in a folder.
Here are the tasks she has learned so far:
Kayla’s pen and paper version;
She also made a digital one.
- Ordering and recording start-up inventory
- Calculating selling prices (with 100% and 150% mark-ups)
I reminded Kayla to properly align her numbers.
- Entering transactions in a ledger
- Adjusting inventory amounts
- Calculating or recording additional in-store sales or AISS
- Paying bills / Writing cheques
Here, I also explained what a “cross cheque” means.
- Calculating profit or loss
With these, she was able to review her addition, subtraction, multiplication, percentages, decimals, writing numbers in words. Plus, she was doing critical thinking as she tried to apply what she knows about products related to golf and a sports shop in general, doing a cause-effect analysis as she “imagines or pretends” to have ordered and sold some items, making decisions as to what would be the best step to do, and coming up with her own business name and logo! It even has cards called Additional In-Store Sales and Chance Cards, like a board game, with scenarios that would affect the business.
The “business” is year-round, set up monthly from January to December, and beginning the business year in January. It’s up to us how fast or relaxed we would want to do it. I, of course, chose the more relaxed pace. Schedules are suggested in the Teacher’s Book to help us plan a timetable that would work best for us.
So, what’s her next assignment? I mean, her next “business task” to do? It would be advertising! She will create an advertisement or design a sale brochure. We need sales and be on business, right? Time to get really creative! This is going to be a challenge for Kayla 🙂
To summarize, the tasks that Kayla will be doing each month that will give her a feel of how it is to operate a business are:
- Fill orders and calculate invoices
- Adjust inventory amounts
- Add Additional In-Store Sales amounts
- Make adjustments based on Chance card
- Write cheques for monthly bills
- Total and pay sales tax collected
- Calculate advertising return on investment
- Order inventory to replace supplies
- Enter transactions in master ledger
- Calculate monthly profit or loss
Plus, there are practice sheets on decimals (adding, subtracting, multiplying), changing percentages to decimals, calculating percentage increases, calculating sales tax, rounding numbers, writing cheques, and writing cash amounts.
So far, so good! This material presents the concepts in a:
- holistic manner (I’m pretty satisfied with the way it is able to present the BIGGER picture of running a business.)
- fun and yet realistic-enough approach (although not in Philippine setting)
- language that a 12-year old (and a 43-year old mom!) could understand and follow
We’re still on our first business month and everything’s been pretty comprehensible. I know that it can get a little tricky as the business moves from one month to the next (I’m thinking forward here about the ending balance of the previous month being carried over as the beginning balance of the next). I hope we won’t get lost and confused in recording entries and using the ledger.
I’m glad I came across this material to make learning AND teaching Business Math easy and fun! I see it also as an opportunity for us to closely observe the real world of business around us in terms of operations, branding, visual merchanding, pricing, competition, customer service, etc., and have a discussion on those. That’s REAL LEARNING!