Grocery shopping with young children isn’t often at the top of a parents wish list. We’re often hurried, in a rush, and view the store as a task to get done. But with a small amount of patience and time, the grocery store can be a great learning experience. You can use it to develop and strengthen social, emotional, physical and mental skills. With just a few of the tips listed here, you might even find the task at hand a little more enjoyable and a little less stressful. And while it’s unrealistic to think everyone has the time for creating a learning experience with each trip to the grocery store, you’d be surprised how fast many of these tips become second nature after while.
I’ve been letting Audrey bring her own shopping basket to the store with us when we need to pick up a few things – it’s shocking how much fun we have. It’s also surprising to notice how children really do emulate their parents behavior. Notice in the pic above how Audrey checks out her apple first, makes sure it looks ok, and then puts it into her basket. Just like mommy.
Tips For Grocery Shopping with Kids
- If you have the time or the patience, let you child bring their own basket or cart with them. This will certainly make your child part of the experience and more likely to enjoy the grocery store with you.
- Give your child a job: for younger kids, ask them to hold the pasta, yogurt, etc…. For older kids, ask them to find 4 red apples, a bag of spinach, etc…
- Play the “I spy” game: Have children guess what you are looking at. For example, find something orange, green, or red in the produce section.
- Try to plan trips after a nap or snack time. Don’t wait until the end of an exhausting day.
- If you do have a hungry child, either bring a snack from home or let the child choose 1 item from your grocery list they can snack on while shopping, ex: a stick of string cheese or a pack of raisins.
- Make the store into a shape exploration: Have them find square boxes, round containers, or oblong bottles.
- Make the grocery store an opportunity to discuss where food comes from: Eggs come from chickens, milk comes from cows (or goats, almonds, rice, whatever you choose).
- Explore senses: Let your child touch or smell the fruits and vegetables in your cart.
- Have your child help you make decisions: which orange looks better, would you like chicken or fish for dinner, etc…
- Explain to your child what to expect in the store, compliment compliant and good behavior, and if you’d like, give a reward at the end of a successful trip.
* The basket in the picture above came as part of a food set I bought for Audrey’s kitchen. Click here for the link.