How shopping can help your child to read

Mother with son in supermarket.

At a glance

  • Shopping can help kids see how reading is relevant to their daily lives.
  • Encourage your child to write shopping lists and read product labels when shopping together.
  • Help your child to follow signs to locate their favourite shops.
  • Play ‘I-spy' to reinforce letter names of groceries.
  • Ask your child what they remembered or liked about the shopping trip.

Supermarkets can be the perfect place to have fun with your child and improve their reading and language skills at the same time.

Encouraging your child to help you write shopping lists, read product labels and link words with items they see in shops helps develop their reading, writing and talking skills. It's also a way for them to see how reading is relevant to their daily lives.

When children share everyday experiences, like shopping trips, with adults they are surrounded by endless examples of how literacy occurs in the ‘real world'.

Children will make connections between sights, sounds and words, and attempt to put meaning to them. A shopping trip when you aren't rushed for time is a great chance to put this into practice. As long as you pitch it at your child's level of understanding, they will enjoy being with you so much that they won't even know they are learning (or shopping for that matter).

Five ways to bring learning to the aisles

1. Write shopping lists together

This is a great way to get them reading words that don't always come from a storybook. Children can help you read recipes and then write out lists of items you need and link names to products that you point out in the refrigerator or cupboard. 

2. Read the signs
Help your child to follow signs to locate their favourite shops or sections within shops such as toys or books.

3. Learn about labels
Ask your child to read the product labels out loud and discuss what they like about the item. This will help them to develop their talking skills including pronouncing words. It will also build their reading confidence.

4. Play ‘I-spy'
Make reading fun for children. Playfully reinforce letter names and sounds. As you walk through a grocery shop, play "I-spy, with my little eye, something that starts with a 'b'..." or later make a list together of items you saw that begin with the letter.

5. Read directions together
At home, following directions on products with your child can teach them how to read instructions. For example, the length of time needed to bake cupcakes or how many cups of detergent it takes to wash their clothes.

By doing these activities together your child will feel clever, responsible and helpful – especially when you reinforce it by telling them so.

When you get home, ask them what they remembered or liked about the shopping trip. It's amazing how an everyday task can improve your child's reading, writing, talking and listening skills as well as their memory. It means you share quality time with them too!


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