Tonight I wanted to tell you about something Sarah (4.5yrs) and I have been doing together for a little while. It started out with her wanting to be more involved and has evolved into the most wonderful way for her to learn about money, broaden her understanding of what real food looks like and give her an appreciation of the food our family eats.
On Sunday mornings, Sarah and I grab our baskets and head to our local farmers markets. We both love this time. We taste-test all the goodies, get a nice warm cup of chai, choose a few new seedlings for our kitchen garden and fill our baskets to the brim. She always has so many questions; what’s this? How much is that? Do we need this?
One morning I decided to give Sarah some money, too. I gave her twenty dollars and said she could buy what ever she wanted. I didn’t quite know what to expect; I initially thought she would spend it all on Turkish delight!
But no, she didn’t! She took the responsibility very seriously. She adored being in charge of some of our weekly grocery money.
Each weekend, Sarah speaks to the stallholders and farmers; asking them about prices and quite cheekily, whether she can have a taste first. She very earnestly chooses the bread; knowing that wheat makes Daddy sick, so making sure to choose a nice spelt loaf.
We talk about how much money she has left over after each purchase. She is learning that $6 for a bottle of apple juice is more than $4 for a punnet of strawberries, leaving her with more change to buy something else if she wants.
She is learning that food is seasonal and notices when new foods become available as the seasons change. Carrots are in season at the moment and Sarah was so thrilled last week to buy both red and white carrots. She had never seen different coloured carrots before.
It was a little difficult at first (for both of us) because the stallholders would often overlook Sarah, even though she would be waiting in line with her selection of tomatoes. It has taught Sarah though, to speak up a little more (and be more assertive with handing over her money). And the stallholders are starting to acknowledge her and take her more seriously (as opposed to a cute little girl paying for apples).
Sarah walks around the markets confidently, basket in hand and money in her pocket. She thinks about what food we might need for the week and happily offers to buy it. And she always, always buys a little some special for Jack and Daddy.
This everyday experience is teaching Sarah about the value of money, how it works – trading it for goods, as well as allowing her to think about our family’s needs. This is serious, purposeful work. Real learning. And we do have such a lovely time at the markets together too, just me and my girl.
When you’re at the markets next, see if there is a little money out of the budget that you can give to your child to spend on food for the family. They will love the responsibility and will just learn so much from the experience.