As a homeschool mom, sometimes you have to take lessons out of the home. There’s errands to run and things to do that can interfere with your homeschooling, so you have to find other ways to take learning on the go!
For me, one of the biggest interruptions has been grocery shopping. We used to save it for the weekends, but I really didn’t like it cutting into our family time, when we could do something FUN. Plus, the grocery store is always PACKED on weekends, making this chore take longer than need be.
I’ve found that going during the weekdays is better because it’s less crowded and so I can get more done without all the noise. Also, grocery stores often stock up or have sales during the week, so I can get first pick and save money too!
When I first made the transition from weekend shopping to weekday shopping, I tried going after we completed our homeschool studies for the day, but this turned out to be a disaster. I did this for about 6 months before I was SO ready to throw in the towel! My son was just an infant at the time, so it added extra stress to take him with my other two children. Shopping late in the day took FOREVER because I was so exhausted after school that I was moving slower than I should have been.
Some weeks, I LITERALLY had to sit in the car and do a few rounds of deep breathing, giving myself a pep talk and saying a silent prayer before going in the store, because the anxiety and stress was SO strong. I had become overworked and burned out quickly from taking on too much.
Finally, my dad offered to step in and start going with us, after a new health food store opened in my area. We could ride together and both get our groceries. We could visit and I’d have help at the same time. It was a life-saver! In order to make things work, I switched our schedule so that we would go once a week, first thing in the morning, instead of three in the afternoon.
The extra hand helped, but what’s more is the shift of the time of day. Instead of wearing myself out at home, only to drive my energy into the ground at the store, I just got up, had breakfast, and went.
The only problem? Our homeschool routine.
If you’ve been homeschooling awhile, you probably understand the value (and importance!) of real-life experiences. Kids can’t learn everything from reading and sitting at home. They need to be able to GET OUT and experience first hand challenges and lessons.
In the case of the grocery store, I realized that I could actually take homeschooling with me every week, which would add an extra layer to my kids’ education!
In fact, when I thought back to my own education, I didn’t actually KNOW how to shop for food when I moved out of my dad’s house! I had no clue of how to plan meals, make a good list, budget, tally, and pick out the best deals. This was all learned through a crash course in motherhood.
But my kids?
After changing my perspective and looking at grocery shopping as PART of our homeschooling, I’m fully confident that if I wasn’t around, my girls could make a meal plan, write a list, budget, weigh items, and even bag and use the self checkout on their own!
On our grocery shopping day, I make sure I have independent work ready for the girls when we get home from the store. They still get their full required hours of homeschooling, but I don’t have to deplete myself to get it done. After all, as your kids move up in grade level, they are more able to take on solo work without you hovering over them.
Related: Raising Independent Learners
Since my dad comes along with us each week to the store, we rotate children, allowing each of them to get some individual time and learn something along the way. I may have one child helping me weigh items, while he has the other keeping a tally of his expenses. Of course, you may not always have an extra adult on hand, but that doesn’t have to stop you from using it as a learning experience.
If you go first thing in the a.m., you will be refreshed and more likely to use this opportunity, instead of letting the kids goof off and be loud (this has happened to me too many times).
Homeschool at the Grocery Store Lesson Plans:
Below are ideas and lesson plans for you to use at the grocery store with your child. Build upon them as much or as little as you’d like!
For Early Elementary:
1. Grocery store scavenger hunt. For early elementary, get your little one involved by identifying produce. Use one of the printables below, and have them match produce to each picture. Alternatively, you can have them find produce that is on your list. This is a great way to get your kids familiar with healthy fruits and vegetables, expanding their awareness of new things. Let them pick out a new fruit or veg each week to taste at home. Getting kids used to eating fresh produce early on will help set healthy eating habits for later on.
To download these printables, click on the image below. Image will open up into a new window, and you can right click and save to your computer.
2. Help with produce. Once your child can identify certain foods, show them how to properly select fruits and veggies. Explain the difference between buying per pound vs per item. Give them a few bags to open, and let them place the food in the bag. This helps them be PART of the shopping experience, and by giving your child something to do, you will *hopefully* prevent boredom (which can lead to whining and goofing off).
3. Scanning items at self-checkout and bagging. If you aren’t picking up a lot, and you are going through self-checkout, let your child scan and bag the items. This is one reason to go during the week, because it’s less crowded and you won’t feel pressure to hurry! You can also let your child insert the bills or coins when you pay, and have them load the cart with the bags when you’re done. Since technology is part of our everyday, this gives them hands on experience and teaches them how to use the machine on their own.
For Late Elementary
1. Grocery store scavenger hunt. Once your child is old enough to read and write, you can take writing practice on the go by printing out this scavenger hunt! Have them write down as many items as they can that begin with each letter. This should keep them busy for a while- you can make it easier or harder by adding rules (example: list only food items, not brand names or vise versa). If you are buying bulk items that require you to write a skew number on the tag, have them do that too!
To download this printable, click on the image below. Image will open up into a new window, and you can right click and save to your computer.
2. Selecting the best deal and healthiest option. Show your child how to select the best deal, based upon health factors and cost by weight. Explain the difference between organics and GMO’s. Teach them how to read labels and what ingredients to look out for, based on your family lifestyle. For us, my kids know how to identify hidden sugars and animal products that we don’t consume. Each week, use this time as an opportunity to show them how to make good food choices- they will only learn by your example! Get them focusing on the healthy options you can bring home, instead of what treats they can place in the cart!
3. Making and following a list. Each week, get your child involved by helping you add a few things to the list. They can pick a dinner for the week or brainstorm healthy snack ideas. When you are at the store, have them follow the list with you- they can help locate items and bag them.
For Middle School:
1. Keep a running total. If your child understands addition with decimals, have them keep their own running total of your costs. You can keep your own list, to make sure that you stay on budget. At the end of the trip, compare lists to see how close they got to your total. I usually round up to factor in tax, so tell your child the numbers they should be adding. This is a great way to bring math into the real world and show your kids how valuable it is!
2. Weighing produce. You can exercise your child’s knowledge of the scale by having them weigh each produce item for you. If you want to make it easier, you can have them round to the nearest whole number or halfway point. You can also get them to add product to a bag until they hit a certain number (for example, have them fill up a bag with apples until they hit 2 pounds).
3. Using percents and coupons. Once your child grasps the concept of percentages, use this as a way to teach discounts! If something is 50% off, have them figure out the math problem. It’s word problems in real life! If you use coupons, see if they can figure out what they discount will be.
For High School and Beyond
1. How to budget accordingly. Now that your child is a young adult, they should be able to grasp the concept of budgeting. At this stage, get them more involved in the planning and budgeting aspect of shopping. Show them how to clip coupons, set aside money for the store, and how to gauge your spending.
2. Independent trip. Can your child drive yet (I know, scary right!?). If so, send them out on their own to grab some groceries! The more experience your child has with this, the better prepared they will be when they move out and get a place of their own.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to take homeschooling to the grocery store!
Did I miss something? Please add your thoughts in the comments below!
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