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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.

Mom and daughter holding apple at grocery store

Follow the Rules

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!

List it Out

Every good grocery store trip needs a list! Have your child help you make that list. If they’re too young to write, then ask them out loud what their favorite foods are and what they’d like to eat this week. Try to encourage healthy selections. Narrate while you’re making the list so children become familiar with the process.

Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt

As you search for your items in the grocery store, have some fun! Practice problem solving skills by having your child help search for the items you need. You can help by giving them clues (“We’re by the chocolate chips”) or asking questions (“What do you see here?”). If children are learning to read, you can challenge them to sound out new words.

Say Hi!

At the grocery store, there are many different interactions that you can have. From ringing up items with the cashier to asking an associate for help finding an item, include your child when interacting with others and explain what they do. If your child is old enough, you can even have them help out! For example, they can hand the cashier money or can say “thank you!” to the associate after they answer your question.

Time to Cook!

After you bring the groceries home, let you child be a part of the cooking process. Here are some ways to include your child in the kitchen at any age.

dad_explaining_items_to_daughter_in_storeAge Appropriate Help

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.