Your temperature's rising. You're starting to get edgy. Then, the fear that someone might approach with: Can't you keep that child under control?

But what can you do when you have no option but to take an unwilling four-year-old to the supermarket?

First, relax. Second, just a little planning and you can turn it into an enjoyable learning experience.

Why not, for example: 1.Make a visual shopping list. Keep all the packets of items you regularly buy and give them to your child to cut out the picture for example, the cartoon characters that feature on their favourite cereal packet or a distinctive logo.

Find a paper bag to put them in. All you need to do next is find a picture of someone with a shopping bag.

Get your little one to cut it out to stick on the bag as a label Take them with you and you'll both be prepared.

2. Choose quiet roads and get your child to navigate in the car. Take it very seriously and congratulate them on their success. Offer a choice between a silly route and the right way.

Keep the actual directions very simple.

3. Invite them to choose a trolley, help to push it into the supermarket and then get in to drive. Perhaps provide a toy steering wheel with a suction pad (or improvise), and invite directions (which way now? Left or right?)

4. Ask them to look for the items You're reading! Well done! on their visual shopping list. Provide different coloured bags to put the cut-outs in as they find the items (What colour is the bag?)

5. Hand them the fruit and vegetables one at a time and get them to count them for you.

Hand them the apples, or whatever, one at a time and start them off with one, but don't take over.

6. Name items you want and ask them to choose the very best ones (What are we looking for?).

Offer a specially chosen banana to eat in the car as reward for good behaviour.

7. Play I Spy Shapes: I spy with my little eye something that looks like circle, square or triangle. Do it yourself first, choosing a common shape and invite their participation, first making sure there are lots of examples nearby.

8. Ask your child to weigh the vegetables. Show them the marker the scales. Let them choose the vegetables, put them and watch the pointer reach the marker.

9. Ask them to pay the cashier. To encourage courtesy, ask your child to role-play Mummy.

The receipt can be theirs to use when playing shops at home.

10. Provide a feely bag for the journey home. Bring a cloth bag with a top with you. Put inside something with a distinctive shape and ask them to guess by feeling what it is.

Does it all sound like playing? Well it is in a way, but you are also helping your child to acquire the skills that they will need in order to progress at playgroup.