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The grocery store is the perfect place to help kids develop important skills like planning, time management, communication, and completing tasks. Every aspect of grocery shopping – from making a list to cooking a meal with your purchases – touches on important skills your child needs to develop.

Grocery shopping teaches kids social rules, like not eating cookies the minute they put the box in the cart. While they might see their favorite box of cookies and want to open it right there in the store, teaching them how to wait until you get home to open the box and eat a few cookies will help them learn to apply executive function and cognitive skills to real life social settings!

Grocery shopping also teaches kids how to plan and execute a task. From helping you write the list, to gathering the items, to watching and/or helping you cook a meal with ingredients purchased, kids are sure to learn a lot from shopping with you!

Remember, kids’ ages will impact how much they can help you at the grocery store. Take into account how old your child is and make adjustments when trying out any of the tips above. For example, two year olds can help put items in the cart, but might not be able to interact with the cashier. Three year olds can take items off the shelf and put them in the cart, but they might not be able to do a math lesson while grocery shopping. Four and five year olds can remember 2 to 3 items, get them, and put them in the cart. As they grow, they’ll be able to do more!

Don’t forget: Make grocery shopping safe by reminding kids to stay near you in the store at all times and hold your hand in the parking lot.