A Trip to the Supermarket with your Kid
Take a break from flashcards, therapy and books and enjoy a trip to the supermarket with your child. While you might usually try to make trips to the grocery store as quick as possible and may not take your child with you, the supermarket can be a practical and functional way to generalize previously taught skills or learn new skills in a fun environment. By the end of this article, you will be amazed at how many areas of your child’s development can be stimulated through a trip to the supermarket.
When planning a trip to the supermarket, be sure to take your trip when the store is not busy. This will help to reduce crowds and the noise level, which will be especially important for children who become over stimulated easily.
Before you go, you can start off by
- making a grocery list with your child. For children who are able to write, make a written list.
- For children who are not yet reading/writing, you can use photographs of actual items and print them out.
- If your child has a particular interest in the iPad or mobile phones, you can also use your device to take photos of the actual items.
- If your child enjoys games, you can make a bingo shopping list, covering up each item as you find it.
There are many skills that can be targeted while at the supermarket.
- You can stimulate your child’s language development. Throughout your trip, you will be providing your child with many opportunities to follow a variety of instructions (e.g. pull, push, get, take, open, close, give) and introducing him/her to new vocabulary. When exploring the supermarket, your child will learn about categories when passing through the various sections (e.g. fruits, vegetables, bread and dairy) and you can also talk about concept such as big/small and in/out/on.
- You can stimulate math skills, by having your child count out a specific number of items, looking for aisle numbers, adding numbers, or calculating change.
- You can also discuss science concepts of healthy vs. unhealthy foods.
- For children who are already reading, you can encourage your child to read the signs around the store as well as the labels of items. You can also challenge them by asking them to search for something in the store that begins with a specific letter.
- You can improve your child’s social skills while they are interacting with others around the store. Encourage your child to greet others, ask for items, and participate in basic conversation.
- Your child’s motor skills will also be stimulated. Have your child practice opening bags, reaching for items up on the shelf, squatting down to pick something up, pushing the grocery cart and lifting items.
Keep in mind that you can vary the level of difficulty of tasks and activities according to your child’s abilities and needs. In order to keep the motivation and interest high, you can end the trip to the store with some kind of reward, such as a special treat.
Once you are home, your child can help you put items away in their appropriate place. After all the items are put away, extend your trips’ effect by making something with the groceries you bought afterwards, such as a fruit salad, or Make your trip to the supermarket even more long-lasting by keeping empty containers and boxes to use for pretend play.