Picture this: you’re at the grocery story accompanied by your hungry toddler. Although this might seem like a daunting task, there are ways of turning this mundane outing into an opportunity for interaction, conversation and fun!
Kids are curious creatures, they want to know everything about anything. Children learn through imitation (copying others: primarily their parents and caregivers) and induction (noticing patterns by personal experience). Therefore, the grocery store is a great platform to learn about food and social interactions.
As a child browses the grocery store shelves, this is where the best education takes place. Children are given the opportunity to see and learn about a variety of foods, other than what comes home with you. Here, kids can view food’s different colors, shapes and smells. With this hands-on approach, it’s a great opportunity to talk about healthy foods, where foods come from, and may even help motivate a picky eater to try something new. Let your child choose foods they want to bring home as it will help connect him or her to the food being prepared and thus much more likely to eat it. Furthermore, discuss why certain items do not end up in your cart and the importance that food plays in your health.
In addition to food education, children can practice their social skills while at the grocery store. Children can benefit from seeing, meeting and interacting with different people. This helps a child learn that people come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Also, while grocery shopping, it’s a great opportunity to experience and practice social skills such as waiting your turn, being respectful to others, speaking politely and asking for help. As parents and caregivers, it’s important to realize the value of human interaction and real-life experiences. Furthermore, nonverbal communication is an important part of communicating and it includes facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice as well as posture. In a world that children use digital communication extensively, it can limit the face to face experiences necessary for them to develop and master appropriate social skills.
So next time you’re preparing your grocery store list, consider taking the kids! View it as an outing and opportunity to learn. What will you cook up? Ready, set, shop!
About Melinda Scheibe
Melinda received a B.S. in Nutrition from Illinois State University. Upon graduation, she joined Well Child Center and is actively working as a WIC Nutritionist and Development Associate. Melinda is committed to her career as a Nonprofit professional, empowering families to reach their maximum potential.