I get asked quite often by parents what they can do at home to better support their child(ren) and even how to support them using more of the Montessori philosophy. That's always an easy question to answer-follow your child and their interests, be patient with them as they learn new skills and give them a lot of time and space to be part of any and all life experiences.
I was reminded last weekend of a wonderful experience that can provide such enjoyment and learning opportunities for young children. I somehow was step in step with a pregnant mama and her little girl who looked to be about 2.5 years old. She was pushing her own little cart and was enjoying her outing greatly. We were in the produce section together and the mother was talking with her and letting her know some of the fruit they needed at home. What the little girl could reach, she helped with and she knew exactly what she wanted in her cart. Her mother was so patient and allowed her a lot of freedom with her cart, which the little girl did well with.
We were standing in the deli together and little girl talked to the worker behind the counter and asked her for her favorite cheese-the worker gave her a slice to eat right away! The little girl asked a lot of questions and was fully engaged in what was happening.
I ran into them a few other times in the store and I loved observing her doing the 'grocery shopping work'. It inspired me so much that I decided to write about it.
In this age of getting things done quickly, let's not forget how important concrete experiences are for young children. Children ages 0-3 are taking in so much of their world through their senses, so allowing them to be part of life is helpful to their development. Children ages 3-6 are refining their senses, developing their language and communication skills at a rapid rate and LOVE being part of what the rest of the world is doing. Simple tasks such as going to the grocery store can be such a fun experience for little ones-if you're not used to shopping with your child(ren) choose a time that isn't crowded so you can set you and your child up for success, allowing for some extra time for their processing. Of course, there will be times when you can allow them to be more engaged than others, but keeping in mind opportunities when they can be more involved is a great way to expand their experiences and their connection with you as well.