Are your kiddos always asking to help in the kitchen? Summer is a wonderful time of year to get kids in the kitchen. Both my boys absolutely love being little sous-chefs. Whether it’s measuring milk, dumping ingredients in a bowl, brushing olive oil, grabbing some basil from the herb garden or peeling cucumbers, they both enjoy being in the kitchen. For several years he even said he wanted to be a chef when he grew up, though that has now changed to an entomologist. I love that he likes being my tiny sous chef, but I’ll admit that sometimes it’s hard to slow down in order to help him or explain how to do certain things while cooking.
A couple summers ago, I wrote a column in our local newspaper about allowing kids in the kitchen. I read a lot of research on the matter. Once I did that, I realized just how beneficial it is to let our children be budding chefs. Not only do they learn to cook, but they learn a number of other skills as well. Below are 4 top reasons to be patient with your little ones and let them in the kitchen with you.
- Math: Very young children can practice counting when helping to add eggs, cups of flour, teaspoons of salt, etc. Preschool-aged children can begin to learn what certain amounts look like. For instance, after pouring a cup of milk, children will begin to learn what a “cup of liquid” looks like. This will help them with skills such as estimating. Recipes follow a sequential order, so children can also learn math skills such as sequencing and ordering merely by following a recipe. Cooking allows older children to practice with fractions. You may want to bake half a batch of brownies merely to give your child practice dividing everything by two or multiplying by ½.
- Reading: Young children can practice letter identification and phonemic awareness while cooking. Point out letters as you read the recipe and ask children what sound it makes. You can even spell ingredients aloud as you add them. For instance, you could say, “Next, we add two eggs. Eggs. E-G-G-S. Eggs.” As your children get older, they can help you read the recipe or read it to you as you add ingredients. Reading aloud helps with reading fluency and accuracy.
- Cooking: Cooking is a life skill that all individuals need to learn. Children are often not allowed in the kitchen until they’re much older and at that point, many are no longer interested in helping Mommy or Daddy. When kids are young, they’re excited to learn. Take advantage of this curiosity. If they learn to love cooking at an early age, this love will more likely continue throughout their lives. Further, if they become quite savvy in the kitchen, they can be very helpful as they get older.
- Social Skills: Many social skills can be learned in the kitchen. As you cook with your child, meaningful conversations will take place. Talking about the recipe, the ingredients, and the process is very enriching for children. Children can also practice manners as they make statements such as, “Can you pass me the bag of flour, please?” or “Would you like me to get the measuring cup?” We are our children’s first teacher, and they model all that we do, so if we’re being polite, talkative, and pleasant in the kitchen, they will follow our lead.
This summer when your family is sick of the heat or outdoor activities, get in the kitchen and cook with your children. While they will learn many skills that involve math, reading, cooking, and social behavior, the most important thing is the bonding that will take place between parents and children. So escape the sun, leave the technology behind, and start whipping up some cookies with the kiddos. Whether or not the recipe turns out perfectly isn’t the point. The true results are the intangible ones that will last a lifetime.
Julie @ Running in a Skirt says
Such a great skill to learn! I did NOT learn how to cook growing up and I always thought it would have been nice to know! Good for you for getting your kiddos in the kitchen!
I did not either! That’s why I feel it’s so important to teach my boys this integral skill.