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Preschool Education Articles

Super Market   Super Fun!
© By Christa J Koch

    What could be more routine than a trip to the grocery store? Before you had children, you did it hundreds of time without giving it much thought. Now, you have an inquisitive, demanding, hyper, and at times cranky companion along for the ride. Hopefully you are not expecting to get through your shopping in record time, as you did before. If you think you will be making the Olympic shopping team this year, you are bound to be disappointed and annoyed. The trick to getting through the shopping trip with your youngster is to view the experience as an adventure. (Which it will be.) This will set you in the right frame of mind. Making shopping fun for your youngster can actually be an easy task. It just requires some extra time. I know time is limited for everyone, but in the long run the extra time will be worth it. You will both leave the store feeling less stressed.

Hints for your shopping adventure:
    1. Scheduling is the most important part of your shopping adventure. If you can, find a time of the day when your supermarket is comparatively uncrowded. From experience, I would say early morning is a great time. But this can vary from town to town, and store to store. Hopefully the Murphy's Law curse will not get you. If the store is relatively uncrowded the lines should be short and quick. Just be sure that this time does not coincide with your child's naptime. There is nothing worse then a tired child on a shopping adventure.

    2. Running into acquaintances can sometimes be fun. But on your shopping adventure it could be disastrous. Your youngster will get bored and it can throw your whole trip off. So, tactfully explain to your friends and acquaintances that you need to get to your adventure. If they have children they will fully understand. If they don't offer to explain it (Some other time!).

     3. Be sure that your child is safe at all times.  Shopping carts can be dangerous. According to an average of 21,600 children ages 5 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with shopping carts each year. Here are a few tips to help keep your child safe:

  • Always use the safety belts to restrain children in shopping cart seats.
  • Consider bringing a harness or safety belt with you when shopping to prevent your child from falling or climbing out of shopping carts.
  • Always stay close to the shopping cart.
  • Do not let your child stand in the shopping cart.
  • Never let a child push or steer the shopping cart.
  • Never let your children sit in the main basket

      4. If your preschooler has their own child size shopping cart, let them bring it to the store. Before your shopping adventure, you will want to discus some basic shopping cart rules. If your child is over-active and you fear they will hurt themselves or other shoppers, this might not be an option for you.

      5. If you are taking your shopping adventure with a young preschooler and you have your child in the cart (buckled of course), be sure to roll the cart down the center of the aisle. This prevents hearing what every parent dreads… “Clean up on aisle 5”.

                                                                       Check Out This Cart

6. This last hint is probably something you are already doing. When checking out, avoid the counters that have candy displays or other “can I have this” items.

      You are prepared to handle most situations while on your shopping adventure. Now just how can you make this adventure fun for your preschooler? There are several simple ways to do this.

Making It Fun:
     1. Let your preschool have a part in your shopping adventure. Ahead of time make a shopping list for your preschooler. Now most preschoolers can’t read, but they are expert matchers. Before throwing out a box of cereal, or a can of vegetables that you normally buy, pull of the logo or any easily recognized part of the label. Take these logos or part of the label and glue them to a piece of paper (or index cards). If you plan to use the same one over and over you can cover it with contact paper. Hand this grocery list to your child. These are the things they need to find. Start out with only a few items. As your child gets better at this game, add more items to their list.

     2. Now if you really just don’t have the time to make a shopping list for your child, then try matching with your coupons. When you get to the aisle where the cereal is, give your child the coupon and have them pull off  that cereal. Most coupons have a picture of the product for easy identification. Of course you will still need to check for size and variety to make sure the coupon is usable.

     3. Finding letters is not only educational, but can also cure the boredom for a little while. Have your child find 5 letter A’s on a sign, or in a product you plan on buying. In the next aisle do the letter B. Preschoolers love to show you they know their letters. If your child does not know his letters yet, what better way to teach them. There are letters everywhere in a supermarket.

     4. Write the words to some songs your child likes to sing (or even some new ones) on index cards and keep them with your coupons. If you child is not shy and loves to sing, he will feel right at home with a store audience.

     5. There is always the good old stand-by “I Spy”. Pick something in the aisle that is red and chant “I spy with my little eye something red”. Have your preschooler try to figure out what it is. Don’t make it too hard, because you only have till the end of the aisle till you have to pick a new one.

     6. Counting your steps. If your preschooler is not in the cart have them count how many steps it is from the “corn flakes” to the “raisin bran”, etc…

     7. Teaching your children about the food groups is always a good thing. But you can help reinforce these skills by asking food group questions as you shop. When you put bread into the cart ask your preschooler what food group that is in. (This is good for older preschoolers.)

      8. Another way to get your preschooler involved in shopping is to give them options. Let them pick between “Chocolate or Vanilla Ice cream” “Red juice or Green juice”. Be sure to only give them options on items that you really don’t care what is picked. Don’t let them pick then say “Are you sure, this one is cheaper” or “but Mommy would rather the chocolate.” etc… Let it truly be their choice.

      9. Always bring a little “grocery store last resort” bag with you. No doubt seeing all this food might make your preschooler hungry. (Please don’t open food from the store before you buy it, this is stealing. Although you plan to buy it, this is just not something you should pass onto you child. It is not ok to do this.) Pack some snacks, a stuffed animal, and an action figure or two into your “grocery store last resort” bag. Another good item to pack in this bag is a storybook. I know what you are thinking when am I going to have time to read. I have shopping to do. Well, like I said earlier hopefully you are not plagued by the Murphy’s Law curse. But if you are, you could be waiting in the check out line a little while. Why not keep your child entertained by reading them a story.

    10. Once it is your turn at the register, allow your preschooler to help you put the groceries on the belt. Just be careful of little fingers. Make sure they are not playing with the belt. Also, little hands and breakables are not really a good idea. Let them put the paper products, cans etc… on the belt.

It Didn’t Work:
     Ok so, what do you do if nothing I have suggested so far has worked for you? Well there are few things you need to keep in mind. Kids will be kids; they are not perfect. Of course, neither are we. We all have bad days and go through phases where we like something one week and hate it the next. So be flexible and patient with your preschool. If you are still having problems here are a few tips:

     1. Ignore inappropriate behavior unless it becomes dangerous, destructive, annoying to others, or truly embarrassing. You have to find a happy medium here. While you are trying not to give your child attention for unacceptable behavior, you also do not want to convey that you will allow him to misbehave in public.

     2. Remove a child who is out of control. Take him or her to the restroom or out of the store. Tell the child quietly, eye-to-eye that the behavior is absolutely unacceptable. NEVER do this in front of others. That will not make the situation any better for either of you. Try waiting and saying nothing at all until your child calms down. Then ask if he is ready to try again.

     3. Go home if the child cannot calm down. If the shopping cannot wait, find a sitter and return alone.

     4. Tell your child you will have to leave him at home next time. Then do it. Make sure to follow though or your child will continue the same behavior because they know you will do nothing about it.

     5. Don't ever buy your child a treat when he has thrown a fit.

     6. If possible, try bringing another adult along on your shopping adventure. Maybe a friend or a grandparent. Someone who may be able to keep your child occupied while you gather the items you need.

A Job Well Done:
    Now that we have focused on the unacceptable behavior, what about the good. If everything went well and your preschooler was very well behaved, don’t forget to praise them. Again I would not suggest buying them treats or offering material items. Most times just your words are all the praise a preschooler needs. Knowing they have made you happy can be reward enough.

      Even with these ideas and hints, you probably still will not qualify for the Olympic team. But making your supermarket shopping a less stressful experience for you both should be reward enough.

Happy Shopping!

About the Author: Christa Koch is the proud owner/developer of the website She has been teaching preschool children for over 11 years and has loved every minute of it. Christa lives in Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband Mike.

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