Hey mothers! Many of us spend a lot of time in the kitchen. There is a lot that I felt my son learned from the kitchen. It can be a fun and learning place at the same time. Spending time in the kitchen with your preschooler can be a fun experience for both of you. Bringing kids to the kitchen is beneficial in a variety of ways. It helps them to be more independent and connect with you as well. Here I’m sharing certain ideas which might help you for the same.
Make a healthy choice
Planning a menu, listing groceries, choosing your favorite dish will help them to introduce to all the groups of food and encourage them to make a healthy choice. You can plan the menu according to mealtimes, days, seasons. Introduce them to the basic food groups like fruits, vegetables, protein foods, dairy products, and grains. Keeping nutritious snacks in the kitchen will assist them in choosing the best. Prioritizing healthy food on the list of groceries is a good choice. For example, listing pulses and beans on top instead of snacks.
Kids will learn how to handle pieces of equipment, clean up spills, peel carefully, put up things, and arrange the dishes, fruits, and vegetables. You can divide it into cupboards, fridges, and shelves. Fruits and vegetables are generally arranged in a refrigerator, dishes on shelves, and equipment in the cupboard. Younger kids can learn how to pour milk, making a sandwich while older ones can learn to prepare a dish for themselves or their family. Buying an affordable white apron and letting your kids decorate it with fabric paint is a fun way to make them remember to wear an apron. This develops a sense of responsibility and self-reliance.
While cooking you can discuss the recipes, stories about the experience with your kids which will help them learn about food wisdom and also enhance your relationship. You can also tell them about the nutritional values of the recipe prepared, which food should be chosen. Cooking together in the kitchen can be the start of a family meal. Family meal planning is an opportunity to hand down recipes and celebrate your family traditions. You can simply have conversations just to catch up with day-to-day life.
The process of cooking indulges in a lot of activities like baking, mixing, grinding, and dough making. We get different kinds of smells, a lot of texture, a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Kneading dough, fruits, and vegetables, washing lettuce makes them aware of different textures. Smelling food after being prepared and tasting develop both taste and smell senses. Younger kids could be made aware of different colors of food or ingredients, shapes, and sizes of different utensils, or simply baking a rainbow cake. You can start eating according to color as well. For example if it’s an orange color then eat oranges, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
Expand their taste
Kids easily get diverted and attracted towards new things having new colors or shapes. This could be the best way to introduce them to different flavors gradually and slowly with some easy kitchen activity. Do this with the help of an activity. Give your child four different bowls and fill each with lemon juice, sugar syrup, salt water, and coffee. Ask them to taste and identify which one is sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. This will be interesting and your child now knows different tastes. If your child doesn’t want to taste something, then reward him with chocolate or chips for eating a little.
Ingredients assembling, chopping, and cooking require some basic maths and science. Kids could learn and practice the basics while creating meals. Your kitchen can be used as a science laboratory. You can teach botany to teens and basic counting or name of fruits and vegetables to toddlers. Keep encouraging your child’s creativity. Allow them to garnish the vegetables or simply cut salads into various shapes and sizes. Teach them measurement and fractions in the kitchen. For example, you can ask them for 100 ml of water or 1 tbsp. of oil or counting the number of eggs.
Kids love to show what they do and appreciating them on small things can enhance their confidence. A kitchen can provide the opportunity to accomplish this. Working in the kitchen allows preschoolers to show their abilities and gives them a sense of achievement. Let them know how valuable their support was while assembling a burger. You may give your child’s name to the burger or another dish. Tonight, for dinner, try “Will’s Burger” or “Elli’s Sandwich.”
Kitchen activity will also help to develop soft skills, table manners, serving, and cleaning after dinner. They will also learn about teamwork. Children learn management in the kitchen. They understand coordination while helping you in the kitchen. The child learns good and healthy hygiene habits. While cooking children understand the importance of food, money, and various cultures. They learn not to criticize food although it’s not up to the mark. Kids eventually learn to get satisfied with whatever is being served to them. You can also come up with a challenge like he can cook whatever he wants or simply prepare a soft drink without your help.
A kitchen is a place where a lot of things are used. Talking to kids about ingredients, dishes, fruits, vegetables, recipes, etc. will help them learn new vocabulary. You can make them spell the ingredients, equipment, name of fruits and vegetables. You can even ask the kids to read a recipe book for you so that they will get to learn new words which will enhance their vocabulary base. Another way would be to label every container and later ask your child to pass the container of a particular label.
I’m sure many of you have used these ideas with your kids and found them very useful. How do you get your kids involved in the kitchen? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. Every place can be turned into a learning environment for our little ones. We just need to be a little creative, active and present.