The Little Merchant and Your Homeschool

bears lemonade standLast summer I drove by a lemon-aid stand, but it barely caught my eye. I went to Walmart and bought a couple of large poster boards and some markers and went back. After buying some lemon-aid, I gave them the gift and told the two girls to make their letters bigger and bolder and angle it so that drivers would be more likely to see their sign.

Lemon-aid stands, paper routes and babysitting were the mainstays of little merchants when I was growing up. I did all three and learned to count money and make money related goals. I had limited time as I had to go to school. What could I have accomplished if I was homeschooled?

 When I worked as a special education teacher, I was in charge of the alternative assessments for kids who were unable to take the regular standardized tests. These projects are huge burdens on a classroom teacher, but I actually had the luxury of focusing specifically on these within a school district. So I was able to create projects that were so interesting the other students wanted in on them.

An Idea From Schools

I created projects that incorporated different aspects of curriculum. They provided teaching, practice and demonstration of mastery. The end goal of the alternative assessment is to demonstrate that a child understands something without using a standardized test. So instead of reading a math problem, the student participates in an activity that helps to manifest his understanding or mastery of something. To prove it, we used photographs, data charts, videos, and other things and put these into a portfolio to be sent to the state to be assessed.

Creating little merchants was one type of project I liked to use, where the students sell items to staff, teachers and other students and they get to count money.

A Virtual Lemon-Aid Stand?

 The internet has opened a whole new world for selling things. Why not create a little cottage industry for your homeschool? I know that not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur, but why neglect this area of learning for that reason? Many children take music lessons but never become musicians. I love what Shinichi Suzuki said about violin lessons. He said we teach music to children to make them good human beings, not to make musicians. (Read Nurtured by Love for more parenting wisdom from Suzuki!)

Can We Raise Debt-Free Kids?

There is more potential than ever before too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if kids could earn and save money while in school so that they could actually pay their own way through college and not be burdened down with severe loads of debt? I know that sounds crazy, but I think this is actually a good possibility to consider. I’m not suggesting we make children slaves to an enterprise as happened before child labor laws — just that we try to go back to the family business in some small way for their benefit.

Little musicians who stop playing music as adults will appreciate music even more as adults, plus they will have learned many other non-musical skills in music learning journey. In the same way, little merchants will appreciate how business works and will learn many other skills in the process.

Do you have any ideas for a virtual “lemon-aid stand” for your homeschoolers?  I’d love to hear about it!

About Christiane Marshall (35 Posts)

Christiane homeschooled from elementary to high school. She holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, and a Master's of Education in Special Education. She has taught in classrooms and tutored for more than 15 years -- and has an addiction to learning about new developments in brain research. For more information be sure to visit her site.

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