We can all agree that "big" family adventures like a trip to the zoo or a visit to the museum are special, fun and create memories that can last a lifetime. Events like these provide parents and children with opportunities for rich conversations, lots of learning and quality time together.
Because visits lto places like these cost money, can be far from home or even out-of-town, they are often reserved for special occasions that families can only partake in once in a while. That doesn't have to limit the fun and learning for our kids, though. There are so many places in our local communities where we can have fun and interesting conversations with our kids each and every day.
The library, the laudromat, the playground and the grocery store are all environments that can be used to help children learn facts and concepts, express ideas and explore language together. Adult-child interactions and conversations are keys to supporting early language development and these everyday places can be just as interesting and fun as the ones we can only go to once-in-a-while.
In London, Ontario, the Child & Youth Network has partnered with a local Loblaw store to enage families in just such conversations. "Let's Get Talking: Grocery Store Conversations with your child(ren)" is an initiaive that invites parents and kids to talk with each other as they move around the grocery store together. A passport with a few key questions like why is cheese good for you? and do you think bread is a plant or an animal? can be used as a tool to help get the conversations going.
This initiative was inspired by Supermarket Speak, a study that Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek shared with our community at a Family Literacy Conference in June 2015. The intervention, which took place at supermarket in Pennsylvania saw an increase in the number and the quality of conversations that were shared between adults and children.
While the passport shares some questions and ideas that will get families talking, it sure isn't necessary. The question found on the pasport are listed below and you can always spark conversations anywhere you about anything you desire. Just watch your children for cues about what they are interested in when you are out and about--then ask questions about what you observe. Show them you are interested in your ideas and before you know it--you and your kids will be having rich, interesting dialogue everywhere you go.
Let's Start Talking: Grocery Store Conversations with your Child(ren)
Fruits and Vegetables
- How many different kinds of apples can you count?
- Can you find a fruit or vegetable that tastes sour?
- Why do you think fruit have seeds?
- Why do you think some egges are brown while otehrs are white?
- Where do you think milk comes from?
- Why do you think cheese is good for you to eat?
- Why do you think meat is kept cold?
- Why do you think lean meat is healthier to eat?
- Where do you think fish comes from?
- Do you think bread comes from a plant or an animal?
- How many types of nuts can you count?
- Why do you think some bread is flat?