Why I let my children go shopping on their ‘own’.

Recently I posted this photo onto my Facebook page of F and S going shopping.  An eager eyed friend noticed that it had been screen dumped and posted on to another group discussing supermarket shopping.

Whilst I am hardened to comments on social media – I found the discussions occurring around this photo fascinating:

“They are way to small to be on their own . That little boy looks same height as my 6 year old 

“Isn’t a Montessori some sort of private education?”

“OMG really? In Waitrose? Might as well be m&s! Or harrods! You’re not teaching them anything? Apart from spending more money than necessary? 

“With their own credit cards no doubt”

These are just a few comments – so I thought I would reply here.

Yesterday was the second day of half term.  We have been really busy catching up with friend out in the sunshine, after a surprisingly glorious bank holiday weekend.

F decided she wanted to do some cooking so I suggested cooking supper as her grand parents were coming over.  We are on a screen ban, so Freya decided to get some recipe books to have a look.  Her current favourite is ‘Tilly’s kitchen takeover‘.  This is a fantastic book of simple but (relatively) healthy recipes that children can cook themselves with minimal help.  It goes with the brilliant series on Cbbc.  Sorry, I digress, F spent time writing a shopping and then sorting it into the different food types, lots of great discussion about dairy etc.

She then worked out how much she thought it would all cost.  I gave her the cash so that she not only understands how money works, but also the value of it.  She came away appreciating how much things cost and that we shouldn’t waste good food.

So, we went to the shop.  We chose Waitrose as it is a shop they are familiar with.  There is a seating area that is next to the exit, so I knew they couldn’t leave without us seeing.  It’s not too big – as far as supermarkets go this is really quite small.  I wanted my children to feel safe yet outside of their comfort zone.  I wanted them to be able to achieve this on their own.  To be able to make choices for themselves – they chose to only buy what was on their list.  But I also wanted them to be able to fail, it what was a relatively safe environment.  They made decisions about what to do when they couldn’t find an ingredient.  They worked together, looking out for each other, discussing things.  They compared prices and read labels.  They chose packet sizes based on what they needed.  And, when they couldn’t find something they knew that they could get me, which they did.  I then showed them how to ask for help.

As they checked out they told us of the conversations they had with the checkout man, but also other customers.  They paid with the cash, they understood about the change and counted the money back to us.

I checked up on them regularly – see the photos.  We felt immensely proud of them both as they proudly carried their shopping out – unaware of us watching.

Was there a risk in what we did.  Of course there was, but it was calculated.  They could have gone crazy, but they didn’t.  By being trusted by us to do this, they made the right decisions and rose to the occasion.  They could have dropped something, but they didn’t.

I believe that this experience has been one of great depth, building their self esteem in a world that is so ready to knock it down.  They have learnt that they can do things for themselves and know how to keep themselves safe.  They understand how to make choices, choosing the better value options.  How to problem solve when something they need isn’t available.

When we got home, F and S unloaded the car and started to cook.  They worked together and learnt alot.  F decided to free style the cheese sauce, and it went wrong.  We discussed the importance of following a recipe and the vale of reading carefully (something she finds tricky).

They made salad, laid the table, we enjoyed the meal as a family.   A day of creativity, of hidden learning, of family time.  To me a perfect day.

And today they want to bake a cake…

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Jo

Jo @ MontessoriSoul