So here we are on day one of homeschooling, and already a wrench has been thrown in the works: we have a showing. Our house is still up for sale, which means that when a potential buyer calls we have to make ourselves scarce. We normally run errands and go hang out at the library during showings, but I thought today I’d combine running errands with a little lesson on practical math and nutrition.
We started by visiting our local Starbucks, inside a nearby Kroger store. I sat everyone down at the table and gave the kids this assignment: they have to come up with a shopping list for their breakfasts and lunches for the week, and have $40 to spend on it. They can break up that money however they want, and buy whatever they want with it, but these three rules were placed on the list: they must buy enough milk for the week; they must buy food for each day that I would consider “healthy”; and they cannot buy anything they know I consider to be too processed. Now, $40 is more than I usually spend on food for all four of us for the week, but the extra budget was well worth the lesson they are learning. I padded it just a bit to allow them some space to stress less over how much things cost and instead to focus more on what they were buying.
At first, JD was NOT into this assignment. The idea of handling money freaked him out. Specifically, the idea of handing $20 to the cashier sent his anxiety soaring. He began to have a meltdown right there in the store, until I agreed to do that part for him. LittleMissSunshine was totally in love with this assignment. She’s been watching Fetch on PBS lately and loves the idea of completing challenges as a part of her learning. I’d barely given her the $20 before she’d taken her cart and raced out through the store. (I tried really, REALLY hard not to hover and give her some space, hanging back out of sight. That was HARD.) JD took a minute to calm down, but once he did, he took to the assignment and really did well!
I followed both kids through the store, and watched as they filled their carts with their items. They both had out their calculators to keep a running total of what they were spending. JD got stuck at the Goldfish crackers display for a minute, because they were marked 3 for $5. That took a little extra math to figure out. I was very surprised–and quite proud–of the selections they made! One of JD’s biggest Aspie traits is being highly picky about foods, so I was nervous about what he would put in his cart. Even though his foods weren’t the all-natural whole foods I’d prefer him to choose, as foods go, they weren’t terrible. Both kids picked out fresh fruits on their own, cottage cheese, milk, and even some extra healthy protein. As they would go through the store they’d ask me for advice, and I would refuse to help, save to remind them that they need to have protein, fruits and/or vegetables at every meal.
There were no coupons or sales involved–we didn’t have time to plan for those kinds of things. I restrained myself and didn’t tell them that buying sliced apples cost more than buying whole apples, because this was their assignment and I wanted them to learn some lessons on their own. I was proud of JD, who walked past his normal favorite Cheez-Its to choose the Goldfish crackers, which were on sale this week. (Even if per ounce they weren’t cheaper, I was proud he was thinking that way.) I will build on this in the future to teach them those tricks. But for now, this was an excellent lesson in both nutrition and math. Both of the kids stayed under their $20 budget! When we were done, I took both of them to the Dollar Tree next door and let them spend their bonus. LittleMissSunshine found a sewing kit she’d wanted for a long time. JD chose to just look, but to save his bonus instead. That’s my boy.
Even more, I was very proud of them, because not only did they stay under budget, they actually ate and enjoyed what they liked all week long! They bought the right amounts–we ran out of their purchased food on the last day of the week. I didn’t have to make their breakfasts or lunches once that week. This was definitely a winner all around!