It is common knowledge that “the family that dines together stays together.” At Young Lions, we propose going a step further and urging families to cook together.
Kitchen work is a core element of the Montessori Practical Life curriculum, introduced in Montessori pre-schools as soon as children can walk. According to experts, it offers a variety of advantages to kids of all ages, from babies to teenagers. Cooking has been used successfully by early childhood educators for decades, and parents can get those benefits at home just as simply, if not more so.
Advantages of Involving Children in the Cooking Process
If you have a preschooler, chances are they almost beg you to let them help out whenever you go to the kitchen. They are at a developmental stage where they are eager to participate in all family activities, including those in the kitchen.
In spite of the fact that their “help” slows you down and can make more of a mess, experts advise that you should welcome their participation.
Young children have been found to benefit greatly from cooking. Numerous studies have revealed that young children who learn to cook demonstrate an advantage in language and fundamental math abilities.
Additionally, involving kids in preparing meals increases their self-confidence and encourages healthy eating habits.
So, the next time they ask to assist in the kitchen, let them. With the correct expectations, you can make your cooking sessions joyful, interesting, and memorable, even though it might entail changing the routine and doing a lot of prep work.
Put an apron on that toddler
Cooking, baking, and prepping are some of the ways your toddler may assist you in the kitchen.
Children younger than three don’t need to learn in a traditional classroom environment; instead, they take in everything around them by experiencing it hands on. Since children absorb their environment, providing a healthy and positive environment is critical.
They can practice their motor skills in the kitchen by:
- Spreading on crackers
- Slicing and peeling vegetables
- Shelling peas
- Slicing and peeling eggs
- Adding and mixing ingredients
- Kneading dough
- Setting the table
Your young child can be a super little salad maker. When it comes to duties like tearing lettuce for a salad and spinning it, children between the ages of two and three should be able to assist you. With a little supervision, they can also assist you with more challenging activities like slicing and dicing vegetables and using an apple slicer/corer to peel and cut apples.
Why should you involve kids in the kitchen?
It’s a good habit to make children learn basic life skills early in their development. However, involving kids in the kitchen has more to offer.
- Cooking helps kids’ bodies and minds grow.
Cooking offers a variety of developmental advantages and is a practical, pleasurable, and naturally driven exercise. Following (or noting down) a recipe is a fantastic literacy exercise for older children.
Kitchen tasks help develop the child’s motor skills, provide a variety of those ever-important sensory experiences, and stimulate their sense of order and sequence.
Mathematical ideas are demonstrated practically through the measurement of ingredients or even the multiplication of a recipe. Cooking encourages focus and mindfulness throughout the entire process; it is no accident that it develops into a calming, relaxing hobby for many home cooks and bakers.
- Food preparation is a great natural opportunity for quality family time.
One of the ideal ways for people to bond, according to established research, is through physical labor performed together for a common goal. We hope you soon have a chance to enjoy it with your kids!
- Children who cook are more likely to enjoy and explore their food.
Do you have a picky eater at your house? It seems like every family has at least one! Involving them in meal preparation encourages them to try new flavors and expands their limited list of food preferences.
A child who has just finished putting together a dish or stirring a stew will be much more eager to taste the results of their labors! With an older child, cooking provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss healthy eating or the value of a balanced diet.
Kitchen activities should be fun and educational
It’s important to give your child age-appropriate tasks they can handle if you want to make cooking enjoyable. Make certain they enjoy the tasks you assign them.
Ask your child which ingredient comes first, second, or third as you prepare the meal. Alternatively, as you scoop cookie batter onto the baking pan, count aloud together. In addition to being enjoyable, this will improve their math abilities.
Together, read the recipe. Only assist when you need to; let them do most of the reading. Their vocabulary will grow. As a result, they are advancing literacy.
Encourage your children to taste various items while you prepare meals together and to share their opinions on them. It creates a fantastic opportunity to reinforce the idea of good eating and the significance of food for development.
You may introduce cooking lessons to children as young as two years old. Unsurprisingly, older kids with finer motor skills are better suited to harder tasks like slicing and measuring ingredients. Simple tasks should be assigned to kids aged 2 to 7:
- Mashing bananas for homemade banana bread
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Measuring ingredients and adding them to bowls and pans
With supervision, you may assign more difficult chores to older kids:
- Mixing the ingredients
- Fruit and vegetable chopping
- Using the stove and other devices
Gathering Around the Table
Family mealtime should be a special time for parents and kids to unplug and enjoy sharing stories of their day. When children actually participate in meal planning and cooking, the benefits of gathering for meals multiples exponentially. Taking the extra time and effort of involving your children in cooking will not only ignite their passion for healthy foods, but helps turn them into independent, capable adults. Resist the temptation of running through a fast food window on the way home; get those kids in the kitchen – many hands really do make light work!
Neuvo en US, funded by the generosity of Steve Cuculich, owner of Car Credit, is proud to support the delinquency prevention mission of The Young Lions. Nuevo ensures that this important information is accessible to both English and Spanish speaking families.