10 Teachable Moments While Running Errands

Take note of all the learning opportunities for your child on your next trip around town.
Nov 28, 2012



Mother and Daughter Shopping in Health Food Store --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Nov 28, 2012
  1. Make a list. Practice spelling and penmanship by listing all the errands in advance. Your child can write while you tell her what you hope to accomplish on your outing.
  2. Turn to the telephone book. Use this reference guide to find phone numbers, addresses, and store hours for the places you need. When he gets comfortable, see if he can find information by himself.
  3. Where do we go? See if your child knows who provides what services. For example: Where do we get meat? (The butcher.) Where do we get clean shirts? (The dry cleaner.)
  4. Get out the map. Plotting your course gives your child practice reading maps and getting a sense of direction. Mark places where you plan to stop, and decide which route is the most efficient.
  5. What's on sale? Discounted items are a great "real-life" example of putting math skills to use. Practice percentages and fractions when you go clothes shopping at the mall.
  6. Manage your time. Ask your child to watch the clock during your outing to practice time-telling skills. Occasionally ask, "What time is it?" or "How are we doing on time?" if you need to be home at a certain hour.
  7. Make change. When it comes time to pay, let your child handle the money. He can choose which bills and coins to use. When the transaction is finished, ask him if he knows other ways he could have come up with the total using different denominations.
  8. Less or more? Teach your child to compare prices. If you're buying breath mints at the convenience store, is it better to buy a pack of 10 rolls, or 10 individual rolls? See if your child can do the math.
  9. Interact with adults. Put politeness into practice with this golden opportunity for your child to interact with unfamiliar adults under your supervision. Tell her to remember "please" and "thank you" when asking for help at the store — and you can set the standard by doing the same.
  10. Lend a helping hand. When it comes time to unpack the car, encourage good manners by making sure your child lends a hand carrying purchases back into the house.
Cognitive Skills
Multiplying and Dividing
Adding and Subtracting
Age 7
Age 6
Early Learning
Discovery and Learning