Running errands with our children can sometimes be the best lessons in our school day. It can teach our children so many skills that can’t be taught at a desk with pencil and paper.
We spend many hours teaching our children reading, writing, and math facts, yet we forget children learn best when they can apply these skills to everyday life. Running errands with our children should be part of our curriculum, not another interruption in our homeschooling day. Here are some ways we can use errands as learning opportunities.
1. Waiting to Buy. Even if your child can’t count money yet, they can learn the Save, Share, Spend principal. Label three containers with each word. When your child earns or receives money be sure to help them divide the money up into each jar. They can spend their “Spend” money on anything of their choice, share their “Share” money for tithes, and save their “Save” money for a more expensive item. This is a good lesson to train children to not impulse buy when they are adults.
2. Spending Choices Older children should begin to understand the cost of food. When grocery shopping with your children let them be the ones to put the items in the cart. Let them decide which brand is the better buy. It’s also a good time to practice reading labels to see if spending more money on one brand is worth the health benefits.
3. Practice Spending Let your child spend their “Spend” money on your shopping trips. Make sure they know they will have to have enough for tax, will have to count it out themselves, and will have to figure out how much they will get back. Do they want to spend their money on a Lunchable, or would they rather make their own Lunchable with ingredients at home? What about that baby doll? Do they want to pay $6 for a little doll when they already have dolls they don’t play with at home?
4. Weighing While in the produce isle, encourage your children to weigh your fruit and vegetables. Try to figure out how much the produce would be if you purchase more than one pound.
5. Time Management Learning how to manage your time is a huge benefit as you grow older. Before running an errand go through your day with your child and explain that you need to be back in time to get to that birthday party or to get dinner ready before a favorite television program. Start teaching elapsed time this way. See how long it takes to drive across town to get to the post office and how long it usually takes to stand in line to mail off your letter.
6. Community Workers You can add a little dramatic play while running errands if you use a bit of imagination. Sometimes my hairstylist will let my children pretend to cut each other’s hair in the barber chair while we wait on their sister to get her hair cut. Of coarse you should always ask and should always be close by to make sure they aren’t REALLY cutting hair!
Remember that living life is considered learning. You don’t have to wait until the weekends to tend to errands, use them as part of your curriculum. It can be the most important subject you teach.
Christa Brown is a homeschooling mom of 3 young children. She began her journey in education 14 years ago in the public school system before making the jump to being a stay at home mom. She believes that instilling the love of learning, grit, and creativity are the building blocks of successful, happy people. She has opened up her home to other homeschooling children and you can follow their adventures at Little Log Cottage School.