In Montessori, we strive to provide a child with as much independence as they are capable of. (Children need to be respected when they are, developmentally and remember that just because a child is able to do something doesn’t mean that they can.) This includes shopping. So how do we provide them with this independence? By providing the appropriate materials to complete the task of grocery shopping.
-Their own list for groceries. E and V don’t read, so I draw pictures of items for them. They also help create this list, in the moment and throughout the week when they request an item just to find out that there is no more left or that was the last. There are a few options, such as printing out pictures and laminating them then placing velcro on the back. This way they can be attached to a list when needed and removed when the item is purchased. Currently, we use coloured chalk and a small chalkboard.
-Carts their size. When we first went to the grocery store they were overwhelmed and their cart went in the back of a large grocery cart (covid babies). We have two types of carts, both Melissa and Doug: the pushcart and the pull. The push cart is great when we are at a favourite store they are familiar and comfortable with, but when we are elsewhere (and they still like to walk and gather goods) they use this cart. The pull cart allows them to pull with one hand and hold my hand with the other–that sense of security allows them to still exert their independence.
–Bags, again, their size. This makes them manageable. They can fill their own bags and carry them. With the larger bags, while we can keep them light, they still end up being dragged.
-Money. While they don’t understand the cost of a dollar, yet, we talk about it. I used to volunteer to assist people in budgeting finances and avoiding bankruptcy. Having grown up poor, it’s so important to me that my children understand money–earning and spending. With cards being the main way people carry money, I make sure they have cash. Not a lot, just enough to be part of the transaction and understand that goods aren’t free. My aunt made them little purses, so they can carry a few dollars. If we are able (checkouts can be so overwhelming at times) they do their own cart, start to finish. Scan what they have, put the items in bags, and then pay. There are many times they don’t wish to participate in anything other than grabbing goods and pushing/pulling a cart–and that’s okay.
I was recently asked about days we need a quick trip. For these times I usually use Target and their app to bring to the car. If this isn’t an option, I explain, prior to arriving, that we are running in and out while still providing them opportunities for responsibility, such as carrying my purse.
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