“Math: Keeping it Real”

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Sophie composing her weekly grocery list

Lisa:  For the past year, Sophie has been going to the grocery store with her tutor about once weekly.  As a homeschooled student, she welcomes any opportunity to leave the house.  But why the grocery?  Because as Bob and Ellen Doman taught me: Math must MATTER.  Grocery shopping is a life skill, which requires the practical application of abstract concepts.  Doing math problems on pencil and paper can be boring.  So we decided to “kick it up a notch” and make Sophie put her computation skills to work in real life.  Our routine is as follows: She and I study the weekly grocery ad for what’s healthy, what’s needed at home, and what’s on sale.  Then she composes a list and aims for keeping her total purchase under $20.  Sometimes her purchases are aimed toward buying ingredients for a specific recipe.  Sometimes, they are just random items.  The next day, armed with a pocket-sized calculator in her purse, her Giant Eagle Advantage card, and $20 cash, she and Janae go to the store.  Her challenge is to find the items on the list with minimal assistance, use the calculator to help her stay within her budget, and then pay for everything at the self-checkout lane.  Honestly, she really enjoys this weekly adventure.  In addition, it gives her a sense of purpose as she contributes to the “running of our household.”

I remember a conversation she and I had one day this summer when I told her I was leaving to go to the bank.  She was in the kitchen, towel on her shoulder, and washing the dishes.  She kissed me goodbye and reassured me that she was “in charge” at home.  I came back to find her cooking the previous day’s Giant Eagle purchases for dinner:  chopped carrots and celery were on a cutting board ready for sautéing, and she was searing a perfectly seasoned roast beef in my Dutch oven!  She even had an opened bottle of red wine ready to go for deglazing the pot!!!

Sophie:  I like grocery shopping and cooking.  I go to Giant Eagle on the bus with Janae, and it is really fun. After we finish, we go to the salad bar to get a fresh fruit snack. Then Mom picks me up. Goodbye folks!