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Life lessons; students with special needs go grocery shopping

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 10:29 am

Students with special needs at Holland Elementary are learning, through experience, how to shop for food and behave in a grocery store.

Surrounded by five students, special-needs teacher Lisa Andreas holds up a picture of an orange. “Orange,” she said, pointing to the card and then making the sign for the word.

“Let's find an orange,” she said, leading the children through the produce area at the Scott's grocery store at Stellhorn Village. Eventually they found an orange. Repeating the process, they found a banana and broccoli.

Holland special-needs teacher Kathy Weibel organized the new program.

“A lot of our parents would like to take their children with them to the grocery store, but their kids don't know how to behave in that setting,” said Weibel. “Special-needs students do these sorts of things in middle and high school, so this is helping to prepare them for that, too.”

They started by taking the students bowling. From there they progressed to the public library, and now they are taking on a crowded grocery store.

Weibel said it is extremely important for students to learn early on how to behave in public places. In addition to basic behavior skills, the children also learn how to identify foods, shop and make healthy choices. The foods they buy will be used in the classroom for a nutritious snack.

First through fifth graders are participating in the new program, and each class has one field trip a week. Students took their first field trip to the store last week and will continue for six to eight weeks.