Why am I writing about these kids? Because ninety percent of the time I see them shopping with their parents, they are catatonically holding a device.
Too Much Technology
As a mother of three, I get it. Sometimes a girl needs a BREAK from the fidgeting, whining, and barrage of questions. In 2020, however, children already have too much access to screens. Why is this a problem?
The problem with technology and very young children is LANGUAGE. Many parents have the impression that computer games, videos, and activities are good for very young learners (thanks a lot, marketers!) This is not the case.
How Do Children Learn Language?
Just the same way anyone learns anything (riding a bike, throwing a baseball, driving a car), children learn language by using language. When a child watches a video, he is NOT using language. He might be hearing language, but that is a far cry from an interactive language experience. Shopping can and should be a language-rich experience for children. Here’s how to make it just that.
Learning to Read at the Grocery Store
Language is a precursor to reading, and words are all around you while shopping! Take advantage of the situation and help your child grow simply by talking and listening.
Build Vocabulary By Naming Everything
Talk about size, color, function, and category. The produce section is a natural fit for this strategy. Considering apples alone, there are easily five to seven varieties at Target. Which ones are red? Which vegetables are long? How many bananas are in the bunch?
Talk about initial sounds - bananas - ‘buh’ - carrots - ‘kuh’.
Older kids? Work on syllables. BA-NA-NAS (3) - CAR-ROTS (2)
Teach Prepositional Phrases
Put the can of beans on top of the can of corn. Is the item you seek on the top shelf? What can be found under that shelf? Place the bag of rice next to the cereal in the cart.
Do Meal Planning Together*
“What should we have for dinner this week?” If they answer, ‘spaghetti’, talk about all of the ingredients that go into spaghetti. Point out the aisle headings.
*Even if you have an infant, they need to hear you speaking. You simply answer for them. You may think you look crazy, but WHO CARES?
Practice Conversational Skills
Model the back-and-forth of conversation as you ask your child (depending on age), “What is your favorite thing to have for dinner?” Then show them how to answer, and ask you the same question.
When you take your child to Target, leave the device at home. Leave the phone in your bag. He will benefit far more by hearing and practicing authentic language with you. Happy shopping!
About My Guest Blogger
- Classroom Teacher
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