It’s never too early to be teaching your kids valuable life lessons. A child’s formative years should be spent learning new things as well as bonding with their family. Unfortunately, with the rapid advancement in technology and the rise of fast-paced lifestyles, people may be starting to forget that children need care and attention. Too many parents believe that they can rely on television or smartphones to entertain and perhaps even teach their young ones certain basic subjects.
While some programs and applications can teach a young child their 1-2-3s and a-b-cs, people shouldn’t encourage their kid to depend on online entertainment from such a young age. Parents have the all too important task of spending quality time with their young ones, teaching them the wonders of the world firsthand. And with technology taking over our lives, parents need to see to it that their child isn’t just glued to the TV or the computer all day long.
That’s why a lot of people highly advise parents to bring their children to the farmers market every once in a while. Besides getting the fresh air that growing kids need, they’ll also learn so much more out in the market than they could ever hope to gain in front of a computer screen. Moreover, parents will be more motivated to eat healthier when they shop at the farmers market too, and healthy living is always a good thing.
You’re probably hesitant to bring along your energetic little tyke because you’re afraid of losing control of them and causing a scene. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Anyone who has ever had a kid knows how much of a challenge it is to shop with their child in tow. They get bored quickly, can be too curious for their own good, and don’t have a developed sense of self-control. Basically, a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately for parents everywhere, there are plenty of fun and educational activities you can have your child do at the farmers market instead of just merely tagging along with the trip. Here are a few simple but effective exercises you can try on your next trip to the farmers market.
Meet the Farmers
One of the benefits of going to a farmers market instead of a commercial grocery store is the opportunities to meet the people who grew and handled and your food. At the market, you can stop by as many stalls as you can and befriend the farmer or grower. Encourage your child to ask the farmer some questions so they’ll learn about what goes on in growing food. This will not only be very educational for your kid, but it will also make your kid appreciate the agriculture sector and nature in general. By meeting actual farmers, your child will have a better understanding of where food comes from. You can also encourage your child to try samples of unfamiliar fruits or vegetables while you’re stall-hopping.
Farmers Market Adventure
There are numerous sources online where you can find printable activities for your kids. One favorite activity is the scavenger hunt where you can turn your ordinary produce shopping into an exciting adventure. Give your child a list of fruits or vegetables or (to make it really challenge) just a description of a particular type of produce. This can be as simple as finding a vegetable with a particular color or a fruit with seeds on its outside instead of in. It’ll be your child’s task to find all the produce on the list. This is a fun game for your kid that will really challenge them to learn about their fruits and veggies.
Planning a Meal
You can also have your child be more involved in the actual meal preparation process. Before you hit the farmers market, tell your child the ingredients needed for their next meal and give them the responsibility of finding particular ingredients. Alternatively, you can give your child the freedom to choose the main ingredients for your meal. This will really encourage your child to be more proactive during your shopping trip. And if they’re the ones choosing what goes in their next meal, they’re more likely to eat it regardless of what vegetable is in it.
If you’re a regular patron of the farmers market, you probably already know how important growing one’s own food is. You can foster this type of attitude at home too. Buy vegetable seeds at the market and have your kids plant them in your garden. This might be a little complicated, and it requires dedication from your child but, with the right encouragement and support, your child will learn to love their own vegetable garden. This activity will teach your child about growing food, not to mention patience and diligence.
Mini Farmers Market
This one is for younger kids who aren’t ready for the real deal just yet. Set up a play area that resembles a farmers market (with stalls, tables, and crates) and takes turns playing farmer and customer. For added effect, you can even get the best outdoor speakers to play music just like at the market. You can either use real fruits and vegetables for this game or pretend ones. If your child has been to the farmers market before and has talked to some farmers in the past, you (as the customer) can ask your child questions about how they “grew” their produce and tested their knowledge on farming. These types of pretend games are particularly fun for imaginative little tykes.
Farmers markets aren’t only for selling and buying produce or homemade products. It’s the perfect place, so there’s really no need to rush in and out of the market. Most markets have plenty of space for a picnic. You can pack snacks in advance or buy homemade goods at the market. If you’re planning to eat the fruits and vegetables, make sure to give them a thorough washing. No matter how clean and organic it claims to be, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Quick Tips on Navigating the Farmers Market with Young Kids
Bringing your kids along to the farmers market requires a certain amount of effort, but it is doable. It’s well worth the trouble too since your child can benefit so much from such an enlightening trip. But if you’re still a little apprehensive, keep these things in mind on your shopping trip.
Let your children know what you expect from them while at the farmers market. Tell them that a market is a fun place, but that doesn’t mean that they can run around and roughhouse like at the playground. A farmers market is a place where people can sell produce, so the kids need to respect that. Make sure your child knows what to expect at the market too so they’ll get an idea on how to act. Your kids can have an enjoyable time there as long as they don’t overdo it. While you’re at it, make sure your kids wear appropriate clothes to the market like cotton shirts and knee socks, so they’ll be protected but also relaxed and comfortable.
Speaking of setting up their expectations, explain to your child ahead of time that a lot of stalls at the farmers market offer free samples, but they need to be courteous and respectful to the vendors too. Teach them that samples are only one per person and vendors only offer them to entice customers to buy their product. Kids and even some adults have a tendency to take advantage of free samples. So, even before you reach the farmers market, be sure to explain free sample etiquette to your little one fully.
Know your own child’s limits when it comes to field trips to the market. Even if they’re playing a game or preoccupied with an activity, they will eventually lose interest if you’re at the market long enough. Every child has their limit, so if your kid starts whining that they’re tired or bored already, you can give them a break. Buy them a treat perhaps. Or let them play with your smartphone for a little bit.
Encourage your kid to ask farmers questions but be sure that they’re respectful too. Kids are naturally curious, and when you let them talk to a farmer, they’ll ask a barrage of questions. They can’t help it. However, when it seems like your kid is getting too caught up or is already holding up the line, it’s time to move on. Remember, the farmers there are busy trying to sell their produce and, as much as they would have like to, they don’t have the time to answer all of your child’s questions.
Lastly, the farmers market is a great place to try new things like unfamiliar fruits and vegetables or foreign baked goods. Persuade your kid to try out something they’ve never tried before. A lot of kids are picky eaters so by introducing them to a wide array of food at a farmers market, and you might just cure them of their culinary fussiness. Let them try new flavors and textures and give them a chance to experience wholly unfamiliar food. They might not appreciate it now but they will when they’re older.