Let’s Go Shopping! — Special Education Grocery Shopping
We often don’t take enough time to appreciate just how complicated daily life is. Take grocery shopping, for example. Between the swarm of people, navigating the maze of aisles and making sure you don’t miss any items on your list, it can be an overwhelming experience. That is why grocery shopping is also a perfect example of a life skill that is necessary when preparing individuals with special needs for independent living.
As a special needs life-skill instructor, your goal is to promote as much independence as can reasonably be expected. The learner’s goals should be based on his or her specific needs and abilities. Set you and your learner up for success. You can always change goals and reevaluate them later.
Break it Down
Don’t take a single item for granted. It is easy to assume that a task is achievable in one step. Some learners may need you to break things down into “sub-tasks.” Rather than overwhelm your learner, reward him or her with small successes.
Make a Checklist
To you, it’s a grocery list. For your learner, it is how he or she will know how much progress has been made and what is left to accomplish before he or she can leave the store. The actual grocery list can be embedded into it. Whether it is on paper or electronic, make sure your learner can check off each item and feel accomplished after completing each step..
Use the Same Store
There is no point in familiarizing your student with one terrain, then switching it out. Go to the exact same store, at least in the beginning. Once he or she learns how to shop at one particular supermarket, you might work on applying his or her newfound skills to other layouts.
Go When the Store is Not Busy
That swarm of people will eventually be a challenge that must be faced. For now, though, try to plan your visits around the non-busy hours. Your learner’s stress level will be lower. Staff and shoppers will be more patient and helpful.
Individuals with learning challenges appreciate pictures. Some prefer actual photographs. Others are fine with illustrations. Figure out which works best, laminate them and bring them along.
Make it Fun
If you are looking to reward a student, you’d be hard pressed to find a better location than the grocery store. There are treats everywhere! Make sure every visit includes some special treat or reward for satisfying the goals of that particular lesson. If they are able to, let them peruse the magazine rack. This is one skill they will quickly look forward to learning.
Make it Relevant
If you don’t need it, leave it off the list. Your student won’t learn if he or she doesn’t understand why the item is necessary. It will seem frivolous. The idea is for the learner to grasp the inherent value and purpose of grocery shopping.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— Monica DeTuro, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ