Learning Opportunities, Errands, and Pink Bras

When we first started homeschooling, running errands was quite a chore. While I knew homeschooling was the best option for our family, I’ll admit there were times that I wished the kids were back in school so I could run to the mall for a few hours of relaxing retail therapy.

I used to dread running just a few small errands in one day, especially with four children in tow. Every trip involved whining, muttering, grumbling, and even screaming. Then one day, I bought a bright pink bra.

It all started in the lingerie section of Kohls. I was desperately trying to find an acceptable bra for an upcoming formal event while barking “Come out from under that rack!” and “Those aren’t monkey bars!” and “Please clean up the entire underwear display you just knocked over.”

Then my three year old son started giggling. And my other son started laughing. And my daughters began giggling. And then I saw him.

My three year old son was standing in the middle of the store wearing a bright pink bra.

I’ll admit it. My first thought was to take the bra off him, reprimand him, and tell him to go sit quietly with his sisters. But then I laughed. And I laughed some more. And I couldn’t stop laughing.

As I drove home, I began thinking. Every time we went out to run errands, I acted like a drill sergeant barking out orders. My kids were just being kids. They weren’t really misbehaving. They were bored and picking up on MY anxiety. When I continually hushed my children, reminded them to be quiet, and told them to sit on the sidelines, I was stifling their curious nature.

Kids have a natural curiosity and a desire to learn. They do this through exploring, touching, and asking questions. Not only can we incorporate learning opportunities into everyday errands, we can also make them a time for some family fun and bonding. Isn’t this one of the reasons we homeschool our children?

After the bright pink bra incident, I approached errands with a new perspective.

A few days ago, we were in the grocery and learned two lessons:

1) Why does popcorn pop?
My youngest son asked this question as we were standing in front of a selection of popcorn. I decided to take advantage of the learning opportunity, so we googled this on my phone and found some answers. We read the information out loud, right there in the aisle of the store, and a funny thing happened. Other people stopped to listen too! (What Makes Popcorn Pop?)

2) Jiffy Pop containers do not make effective swords.
Yep. “Clean up in Aisle 7.” This taught my children a valuable lesson on being responsible and respectful as they helped the store personnell clean up thousands of popcorn kernels that had scattered all over the floor.

I understand. Taking advantage of impromptu learning opportunities while running errands isn’t always possible.  Sometimes you have a “to do” list and other appointments that require you to move swiftly and efficiently.  But that doesn’t have to be the case all the time.  The next time you’re running errands, I urge you to take a step back, take a deep breath, and consider the possible learning opportunities and the bonds you can form with your children while doing everyday tasks.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll share some additional ideas on everyday learning opportunities!

—A Homeschool Mom