Money, work and functional/goal directed activities

I studied physiotherapy, my first job was at a Children’s hospital. About 9 months into this job I already started to take extra courses in paediatric neurology/seating – working with special needs’ children and thus paediatric neurology.

This is also where I met M. (We adopted her)… I have spent more than 10 years working in this field…and still I caught myself this week doing things “as I was taught, as my children was taught” and NOT IN THE WAY THAT I KNOW WORKS…

We have an adventure camp site on the banks of the Breede River and during summer months we run numerous camps with school groups.

I started Little footprints with my kids last week (more on this in my next post).. Shirley inspired me to provide an opportunity for my children to earn money/have responsibility etc. We decided to run a tuck shop during the 3 night camp for about 92 learners. (My husband and his staff sort of gave up on running a tuck shop as they have too many other responsibilities at the camp) Also my kids can not work at the camp yet- we have always told the local kids who work freelance that they have to be 12/13 years old.

So I decided to be brave…(I have A LOT on my plate already and this would replace quite a lot of our other activities) as this would take quite a bit of time and effort from me, BUT I knew it would be a brilliant learning experience and something that we can continue for the next few years, giving them more responsibility as they learn and mature.

We bought drinks, chocolates, packets of sweets and chips. Most of the items cost R10, except the chips @ 2 for R5. I thought M would be able to easily add each person’s items and that I would assist with the change. We started with P keeping the fridge stocked and fetching the items from the fridge/shelf.

We made a time sheet for Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday (12h30-14h30 and 17h30-18h daily) as well as Price lists.

I thought it a good plan to “practice” with M before the time: Asking “I want a Coke, a Tex and a steri-stumpie, how much will it cost? ..And she could not answer.. I explained and asked again…no answer/guessing… I almost lost my cool (She did “money maths” all of last year in Grade 3 in main stream)  M. is  an artist, a dreamer, a visual learner, she is very auditory distractible thus maths with 40 kids in the class was a disaster last year

So the first session arrived and M was totally overwhelmed. She could not ask the learners: “How may I help you” , she could not do the maths, she basically watched my work and was sort of frozen. P. did so well listening to orders, filling them etc. and asked some of the learners “What do you want” hahaha-english second language

After session 1- I explained to my Afrikaans children that asking “what do you want?” is somewhat rude and that they should ask loud and clear “How may I help you?”.

Tuesday, session 2: M started asking “how may I help you?”, P was a star with the orders, fridge and listening to instructions. I did the maths and worked with the money, explaining how I added to M while busy.

P puts some drinks in the freezers but reminds me that we have to take them out before they go to bed “As they can not sleep there” ( I explained to them how frozen drinks expand etc..lovely practical lesson. Also one of the drinks fell and exploded- another good lesson.)

Some learners deposited  R100 or R200 and we kept deducting items throughout the camp (explaining to M and P how that works)

Wednesday morning M. and P CAN NOT WAIT FOR THE TUCK SHOP TO OPEN, they loved it. They have piano lessons on a Wednesday morning, and after lessons they could not get home fast enough.

Wednesday session 1- M starts to tell the learners what they owe (say what???) and P who is often a bit shy also started to ask learners “How may I help you” and telling them what they owe.

They both informed me that we would need more stock, so I purchased more while M was at her dance class and P at his art class (yes, Wednesday is our busy day with morning and afternoon activities)

I am also responsible for all the food purchases during camps..did I mention my week was FULL?

(Also I have no idea why this post is in English..remember it is my thinking space, I am not going to fix all the grammatical errors)

Wednesday session 2- M. starts to calculate change (with some help) – but with confidence!

Thursday session 1 and 2- I am in awe of all that my children learned this week!!

Friday morning: We count the actual money. M does so well with counting the money, also doing a pretend maths question for fun (???). I explain how profit works (again) and we count the stock left and decide to sell it at the next camp in a week (with some more new stock)

They are very happy and excited about the idea of an ongoing tuck shop, and earning money.


And to continue with my fist paragraph…

  • Why did I do “pretend money maths” when I know functional/real life activities are the best way to do money maths? And learn, in a practical, real life way
  • Why did I forget about watch, do ,teach principles (M “learned to do the adding by watching me, and P as well)?
  • They learned about profit,stock take, customer service, conversing with 16 year olds in English, money maths and all this while earning actual money.
  • They always find a “friend” on the camps – also a good experience

And then this…I am an experience person when asked what I want for my birthday I will tell my parents the babysitting that they did the previous weekend is my gift, I will tell my husband I want  a weekend away WITH HIM (We usually do a 2/3 day cycle race for a weekend away) and I will tell my friends to attend my party…

Why on earth have I been telling my kids to save their money to buy something/an expensive toy etc. This morning I randomly suggested that they could use this money to visit the 2 Oceans aquarium/ cable car ride/ red bus tour and they started jumping up and down, exploding with joy, adding another visit to Rush to the list (we have relocated to our camp site, on  a farm about 250 km from Cape Town,  4 and a half years ago and all though we all LOVE it, Cape Town outings are a big hit with the kids).

So I have been modelling love,experiences, nature,earth care, non-materialism (Actually we, my husband are part of all of the above) and my kids are living it!!! WHOW WHOW WHOW!! I am learning so so much everyday!

Also my parents left Pearly Beach yesterday afternoon, travelling to Port Elizabeth for my great-grandmother’s birthday. They have been sending voice notes and photos as they travel through towns and M and P have been tracking their route on our map, such a lovely learning experience as well.


The best opportunities for growth is all around us, if we can just slow down long enough to grab them.

One of my prayers at the moment is “i want a heart filled with love”.. this prayer has so so many levels..and I am seeing it answered daily.

I looooooove this journey, I  feel excited about life every morning. I have things to learn, things that challenge me, I am spending time with my kids,having conversation with them (no longer just shuttling them, hurrying them up, and no more HOMEWORK) and I do not wish a single day to pass. It is by no means “easier” than last year, but then again we are not interested in easy, we have never been, we have long ago committed ourselves/chose to live a life of risk..and love.



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