Is shopping on the curriculum?

I know I was talking about not buying stuff on the blog last time but with home educating there were always a few essentials we went out for and it put me in mind of this story.

It was a typical home educating day – while back now I admit but as clear in my mind as it ever was. And that was because of the horrible git in the lift!

It was an out-of-the-house day. Very essential. We’d needed a library trip; we were loaded with books. We’d also been looking at buying a couple of books to learn from, which the kids had fallen in love with in the book shop. We needed some groceries anyway and then we’d got a trip to the park planned for outdoor lunch, exercise, a clamber on the apparatus there and observation of anything wild that came up. It always does.

So laden down with our stuff, picnic included, we were in the lift on our way down from the book department. Standing in there was an elderly chap looking down on us from his great height with clear disapproval.

Now quite often when we were out and about we’d get a smile for the kids from people who we came across. A look of interest. Maybe a gentle chat or enquiry. Today it was different. Today it was term time and my children were clearly not in school. Today this chap was clearly not pleased.

He ignored me, looked accusingly at the girls and said ‘Not in school today?’

Before I could answer my eldest pipes up confidently and proudly, hugging her books to her, ‘No we’re home educated.’ I was so pleased to see how she’d grown – she’d never done this before.

Again he directly ignored me and confronted her, with a cross tone and a glaring eye and said; ‘Shopping on the curriculum is it?’

She deflated like a spent balloon and that old oppressed and guilty look she wore in school – eradicated since we’d been home educating – fell back onto her face at his intended put-down.

I’m not usually a violent person but quite frankly I could have smashed his face in!

‘Actually, shopping is very educational,’ I retorted. And the lift doors opened and we parted before there was any time to argue the point further. Not that I probably would have bothered as you know how pointless it is against some people’s narrow minded ignorance.

I was so upset. Mostly because of the attack on my child by this arrogant bully who obviously thought he had some kind of authority and licence.

Happily, most people we came across when out were fairly interested. ( I think I describe some of the comments in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’) But way back then, when home education was still fairly unheard of, people were more suspicious. In fact you could easily feel that you shouldn’t have your kids out in public in term time as if they weren’t fit to be seen; they should be tidied away in school.

If there’s one thing this awful pandemic has done for us it’s brought home schooling to the fore. It’s much more recognised and possibly even understood better by thousands more than way back then. It’s certainly opened people’s eyes and minds to an approach to education that although unfamiliar, is totally workable, successful and a life saver for many children who through no fault of their own do not thrive in school. Not to mention the fact it’s encouraged more parents to question the awful flaws in schooling and the system.

Let’s hope this will be one positive outcome of the pandemic that will remain for good and continue to grow. And those parents who choose to home educate (and I don’t mean do school-at-home as many were forced to do during Lockdown) are supported in that decision. And whatever approach one chooses it is less divisive than it has been as understanding expands.

And actually – shopping is educational as it supports many concepts of the curriculum if you delve into it’s diverse subject matter with an investigative mind; maths, science, environment, origins, language, vocabulary, design… it’s all in there in various forms. So put it on your curriculum, get out as much as you can, try not to actually buy too much stuff and good luck with those you come into contact with!

Lots of investigative learning possible from just a basket of shopping!

6 thoughts on “Is shopping on the curriculum?

  1. It is always great to involve children with shopping and not just from a budgeting or cookery aspect which are probably the two obvious things that come to mind – as you say it’s a really diverse subject area which is bursting with life skills learning. We have had a lot of fun discovering where our food shopping has originated from, for instance. It took twice as long to shop but I think it taught me a lot, too.

  2. Once when out shopping the lady at the checkout asked the no school today question and my daughter told her all about her baking project and how we were there to buy our ingredients. The checkout lady said how nice it was to see children learning to shop with their parents and told us all about the school fieldtrip who had just left the store, where yr10 got to go shopping with their teacher as they woudn’t know how, otherwise. So yes, shopping is on the curriculum.

  3. Maybe in his working years he was a “Wag Man” as they used to be put (someone paid by the local authorities to look for kids not in school). You handled it well by not hitting him. I wonder if there could be a card given to such persons, those who Homeschool could give to those persons who think they’ve the right to butt in. Maybe you know the right words to put on them?

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