Did you know that cooking with your kids boosts their development?
Kitchen play can be fun and empowering for kids and you don’t have to wait until they’re old enough to be on MasterChef Junior to get them cooking! Stir the pancake mix, measure one cup of water, roll out the dough…all of these cooking tasks help kids develop necessary academic and cognitive skills. Without knowing, you are preparing them for success in school and in life each time you let your child help you prepare a meal. Read on to discover how kitchen play helps kids learn lessons applicable to academics and life.
- Increases Language Development
With its own vocabulary, cooking is a great opportunity for children to learn the names of ingredients and words like sieve, whisk, stir, mix, roll and melt. Take advantage of opportunities for children to match pictures to words and articulate questions inspired by their new experiences. It is good to involve the children in the whole process, if possible. You could start with writing shopping lists, maybe include a trip to the shops, and encourage them to read the recipe and find certain words in the recipe.
- Introduces Kids to Scientific Concepts
When cooking, children have the opportunity to observe changes in food ingredients. They learn about temperature (hot and cold), floating, sinking, dissolving, melting, and freezing. During cooking experiences, children learn math skills such as counting, measuring, and following directions. Simple concepts about quantity are learned, and conversations about colour, texture, shape, and sizes frequently occur. Don’t forget, when cool things happen, say “that’s science!”
- Increases Sensory Experiences
Children love to taste every ingredient in a recipe yes, even the flour. The different spices smell oh, so good, but different. There are other smells they may describe as “nice”, “like Dominos” or “just like when we’re at grandmas.” Through their senses they explore and learn.
Being attentive to the five senses during cooking activities is fun and appropriate for all age levels. Let your child smell the spices in the cabinet. Tell the names of the spices and maybe name some dishes in which they are used. Let your child be aware of the many smells of food, how bread smells when it’s baking, how broccoli smells when it’s cooking, and how bacon smells when it’s frying. Some adults like to listen to music and drink wine while cooking together. A similar (non-alcoholic) ritual can be created with children!
With all of this creative and productive playtime in the kitchen, maybe your kid will invent the next great family cookie recipe, be the next MasterChef Junior….or at least make you a really good cup of coffee in the morning! How do you make sure they are helpful and have fun without getting hurt? Share your tips so that other parents can start cooking with their kids.