Learning@…The Supermarket!

Struggling to find the time to provide your little one with all those learning opportunities you imagined you would fill your child’s day with? I know this is at the root of a lot of my suffering with classic mom guilt on an almost constant basis, and the change to having two under two means an even greater squeeze on time and resources.

I had gone into motherhood with the misconception that the only truly ‘valuable’ learning time constituted sitting down with my child.on a.1:1 basis, with good quality resources and an idea in mind for what I wanted to achieve. Attending Baby Sensory sessions once a week did enable me to do this, and I thoroughly recommend them. However, once I am out of the baby class bubble and back in the chaos of daily life with siblings to look after, errands to run and lacking expensive resources, how can I possibly match that? Time to get creative…

Since having my second child, I have discovered just how valuable your environment, whatever that is like, can be, starting with shopping.  Although we are fortunate enough to have plenty of books here at home and have access to libraries if needed, I don’t always have them handy or with me, particularly when out and about shopping for example. But in fact any brochure, magazine or catalogue can make a good stand in, and these can be obtained for free of you didn’t happen to be buying one anyway. What about the brochures in Lidl and Aldi that advertise forthcoming offers? They make perfect pictorial displays to point at and discuss with your child (and great for ripping up if nothing else: perfect entertainment until you have access to sturdy board books). Rather than reading the words that are printed as you would do with a story book, discuss the pictures instead in a way that is rich in vocabulary and description: ‘Oooh, look at that round peach. Doesn’t ‘t it look juicy and delicious? Have you seen the skin? It looks like it would be soft to touch.’ Obviously you can tailor how advanced this is to the age and stage of your baby.

Naming things as you walk around is another fantastic, free and stimulating activity. A baby will most likely look with interest as you point at and name objects, but a toddler can lead by pointing at things of personal interest to them which you can be guided by. Of course you can elaborate on vocabulary with description if you wish. I find this to be most successful when   your toddler has snack in their hand to avoid them being distracted by their surroundings prompting hunger.

If you buy items that are loose, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce counting as you place each item in the bag.

Of course, if you have already wrestled the toddler into the pushchair, realised you are running late and the baby has just left an explosive one in their nappy then probably none of the above will happen, and that’s okay too…

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