What Children Learn at the Grocery Store

Mother and daughter at the grocery store

Bringing your child to the grocery store for the first time can seem like a daunting task. It’s an overwhelming place for your child to get acquainted with nutrition, food, literacy, and even financial planning. A trip to the grocery store doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Besides, it is an important life experience to expose your child to.


Explain to your child that you are going on a trip to the grocery store. Explain what a grocery store is, what their trip will be like, and if possible show them a picture of one. Answer any questions they may have. If possible, plan the trip at a time your child is not normally hungry or tired as well as off-peak hours so that you and your child will not feel overwhelmed by crowds.

It’s a good idea to have your child help you make a list. Help get them acquainted with different names for foods, containers, and sizes. If it helps your child, match the picture of the food to its name in the list. Making a list together will help develop your child’s vocabulary and overall literacy skills. It will also help keep them focused during the actual trip and learn organizational skills.

Another good idea is to choose a recipe that you plan to make together and then go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients you need. Your child will see how different foods can come together to make something new. What an exciting process!

At the Grocery Store

A child may feel overwhelmed at the grocery store. Something that keeps them grounded is letting them be in charge of the list. This gives them a task and keeps them focused. It also helps them practice language and matching skills. Another way to accomplish this is by giving them their own basket. Let them fill it with a couple items from the list so they feel in control.

If they are still overwhelmed, bringing a comfort toy to the grocery store often helps.

Observe what your child is interested in. Let them explore! Let them use their senses, like touch and smell. Have them choose ripe fruits the same way adults do – by picking them, feeling them, and deciding on one. Have them hold different items. Actively listen to them when they are interested in something and when they are curious about something, answer their questions.

At Home

When you return from the grocery store, have your child help you put food away when you get home. Discuss your trip with them, including the choices you made at the grocery store.

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