Many of our posts are related to SLP recommended games and festive tasks for families, but it is important to remember that parents do not need a planned activity to target language skills. For this reason, we wanted to write about a mundane and frequent errand that most people complete at least once a week: food shopping. This simple chore allows for a surprising amount of communication opportunities. Let’s dive right in to making this work for your family!
Prepare for success:
We understand that grocery shopping is already a chore and no parent needs additional stress. So if your child does not usually shop with you or has limited experience going to the store, preparing beforehand will set the stage for success. You can tell your kiddo about the store you are going to visit. How much detail you provide will depend on your child's age and language level. Even simple stories help to prepare kiddos for new scenarios. (i.e. "We are going to the grocery store. We will get a cart and find all the foods we need on the list. Then we will pay and go home.) If you want some more details, our book, Lou Knows What To Do: Supermarket, prepares kiddos for this life skill.
We know it can be hard to get excited about food shopping. However, motivating your kiddo is important so that they want to be involved in the task. The goal is for your child to be an active participant in the process. There are many ways to do this, so choose what words best for your family. Some suggestions to actively involve your child can include:
-Contributing ideas for weekly meal planning
-Helping to actually write the list or suggest items to add onto the list
-Pushing the cart
-Monitoring the shopping list and checking off items
-Searching for foods and putting them in the cart once they are parent approved
-Loading items onto the belt at the checkout
-Helping to load the car or carry groceries inside the house after shopping
You can target following directions and embed a variety of language concepts into your commands in a supermarket setting. Your child's language and literacy level will determine how complex the directives can be. Here are some examples:
Prepositions (positional words): Get the eggs on the bottom shelf. They are under the blue sign. Pick the avocado on top of the pile.
Multi-step directives: Open the door and get the red carton of milk. Check the date and make sure it is in February. Then put it in the cart.
Directions with specific vocabulary: Find a green, leafy vegetable. We need a can of beans with a pink logo on it. Let's look for a new seasoning. Select the largest jar of green olives.
Since there are other people to interact with in a supermarket setting, there many opportunities to practice a variety of social skills. Keep in mind that we have to teach our kiddos expectations before they can meet success. Do not expect them to know what to do before being taught! The great thing about grocery shopping is that it is usually at minimum, a weekly occurrence. So on your first trip you may have to teach these specific strategies, but with each passing week, allow your child the opportunity for independent practice. Here are some great social skills to address while shopping:
-Maintaining appropriate body space from other customers
- Saying "excuse me" when other shoppers are in your way
- Asking an employee for assistance if you cannot find a desired item
- Saying "thank you" when others assist you
- Interacting with the cashier