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Living in a Consumer World - Live life with your kids - Issue 058
June 13, 2008
Hi there! ....

This week:

As we come to the close of mid-year in Australia it is a good time for a quick check up on our priorities – are we keeping to them? This year I have made an Assignment Sheet for Josh and Jess which breaks down their academic goals to weekly bites. As we review this weekly, we keep in mind other activities that are happening as well. This gives them the opportunity to learn to be responsible for their own time management and study skills. The younger two aren’t at that place though and my planning for them is a little more week by week. So it was timely to step back and look at the big picture – what are my priorities for them and is my planning meeting those priorities? I did have to do a little tweaking. I used my Scope and Sequence to help me focus. It was good to be reminded of what is important.

Live life with my kids!

Family Life is a Resource for Education
Living in a Consumer World

Obviously there is more to shopping than the groceries. Each of the different shops around town, give our children a different life skill or perspective on being a consumer.

We may not like the word consumer – it may draw pictures of a world that we try and remove ourselves from. We may rather see ourselves as Producers. And yet, whenever we purchase something we become a consumer. We must teach our children to be wise consumers, not just able! This is, as all things in our life, an area where we must walk the talk, and be open to our children. It is a discipleship issue.

We need to:

  • talk to our children about the cost of living
  • be open about our decision making process (why did we buy this and not this)
  • teach book keeping and savings

When we do our weekly run-around-town chores we have plenty of opportunity to involve our children and teach them about the consumer world. Here are some thoughts we have come across in our family.

We discussed with the local bookshop owner how we enjoyed the music in his store. He told us of the research that he had been reading, about how music affects the customers. He has certainly hit the mark, for us anyway, as we feel really relaxed and welcomed when we walk in. After this discussion, the kids and I observed that when we walk in to another shop in town, how quickly we want to get out and we reflected on the music that shop plays. The girls immediately related this to how we play music in our home too. Music does set an atmosphere which affects our purchases.

Another day my daughter suddenly realised that the Café owners had to buy their food from the grocery store before they could serve coffee, milkshakes and cakes. When we bumped into the café shop owner we asked her why she bought from the grocery store instead of from the bulk supplier. Although this conversation happened in the car park, it was an important lesson in regards to starting a business and the many systems involved.

I take walking into a bank, and dealing with the customer service teller, or the cashier a regular thing that I don’t take much notice of. But do our children? Our children may do banking and that is obviously an important life skill but that only deals with the cashier, as it is doubtful that our children have many queries to ask of a customer service teller. When you have to ask something of your bank next time, don’t phone – drop in when you’re in town, prep your child and see if they can walk in, wait in line, and confidently ask a question.

At one shop Joshua kept being ignored at the Service Desk. This was a good opportunity to teach him to stand tall, to be a little assertive (without being rude) and to take his place.

The children love to collect the mail from the post office but it is also a ground for consumer practice. They can buy stamps, ask for postage rates, choose correct packaging, label parcels, and get that parcel on its way!

We had to return some light bulbs the other day and I believe we missed a great opportunity. Instead of leaving our children waiting outside we should have taken then with us to observe how we address these problems. If our children don’t observe our manner, the words we use, how we express our requests then they are not able to formulate a manner themselves and will be left floundering when they have to return something for themselves in the future.

Our children are very aware of advertising and how ads are appealing to, or trying to appeal to our needs and wants. In order to counterattack the instant gratification world that is all around us understanding advertising is an important consumer skill.

Since our children don’t get pocket money they don’t have a lot of personal opportunity to spend money. I have had to be intentional about giving them the experience to pay for a product with cash, to be aware of the price, the money in their hand and the change expected. I have also gradually taught the children to sign for a purchase on our account. This of course means they have to know when this account gets paid.

As our children grow older and start earning an income these lessons become imperative – and how much easier if we have laid the foundations, through living life, in their earlier years. Our children need to have confidence that when they are in the role of consumer they know how to make wise decisions and handle themselves with politeness and clarity.

So the next time you do your run-around-town chores, involve your children. Discuss

  • the needs of your family, and how they are met
  • family budget
  • etiquette of a consumer (your rights but always with manners)
  • the business side of business – supply / demand / overheads
  • finance – cash, credit card, accounts, banking
  • do your maths for the day – sales, discounts, coupons, loyalty cards, comparisons

Any discussion on being a consumer has to be balanced with the character trait of Contentment; to be satisfied. If we are continually looking for more, comparing ourselves with the Jones’, and even focusing on material things not the things of God, we need to look at consumer issues from a different perspective. We first of all need to look at our heart and our relationship with God – can we, do we, trust him to provide all our needs. Do we know our purpose in life? Those without a vision will dwell carelessly, and this includes financially.

I am reminded of the wisdom that nearly every mum knows –

Don’t go shopping with an empty tummy!

You will shop a lot more compulsively if you do. This should be made a consumer’s motto -

Don’t go to town with an empty heart!

We need to fill our heart with God’s love and purpose before we set foot in any shop in order to be a contented consumer!

Website Updates

Kerry from Australia asked a question about Nature Journals not happening If you have some ideas that will help children who are reluctant to nature journal please “make a comment” – you’ll find the link under Kerry’s question.

Write your own page at Lifestyle Homeschool! Simply tell us the
learning activities that are going on in your house as you live life with your kids! {if you tried this last week, the link is now fixed!}

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

Keep up with future additions with the Lifestyle Homeschool Blog throughout the week.

Until next week
Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
  • Be a Deliberate Parent – Encouragement to continue in purposeful and intentional parenting.
  • Family Life is a Resource for Education – Spotlights on a particular aspect of family life so we can see the natural opportunities available to us in educating our children.
  • Character Education – Each month we focus on a different character trait – The newsletter will include application for Mums, as well as seeing character training opportunities in everyday life.
  • A Homeschool Thought – Discussing homeschool issues

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