By Diane Ako
Olivia heard a radio news report that the US Postal Service is "losing money." She asked me why it's losing money.
To answer a first grader, one must learn to think like a first grader. I'm getting pretty decent at this.
"Do you know what losing money means?" I asked, to establish a baseline.
"That you become homeless?" she guessed.
"What I mean is, do you think people lose money the way you lose your toys around the house?" I clarified.
"Oh. Yeah," she said.
I explained it's a figure of speech to mean not earning money. Then I continued to the real lesson.
"So, if I were selling my cupcakes at the school bake sale for $3, but it costs me $5 to make it, I lose money. Do you understand that?" I illustrated.
Fish eyes. Blank stare. "Uh. No," she stated.
"OK, let me try this," I paused to think. "You draw these pretty pictures. If it costs you a dollar in supplies but you sell it for 50 cents, that's losing money. Get it?"
More blank staring. "No. What's 50 cents?"
I have no idea why Olivia doesn't know what 50 cents means since she asks for Icee money every Wednesday, but this is par for the course with a six year old. I'd have thought she wouldn't know what supplies means, but then again, she uses the word "edible" in her normal conversation.
I chuckled and gave up. "Let's talk about this another time... Wanna watch TV?"
Score me one point on the excellent redirect.
So... any ideas how to explain P&L to a first grader?