How to Involve Your Children in the Kitchen

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Children love to cook. It’s true! When they are given the chance to be hands on in the kitchen, learn to cook, and be proud of their finished product… then kids love to cook. However parents… parents love to get meals on the table, I know. Rushed in the week and dinner by 6 or the satisfaction of hardly a mess to clean in the kitchen after cooking is just easier. It makes the week just that much more doable when you make pre-made meals Sunday that you can freeze for the week or simple meals that you can put together in 10 minutes, I vouch for that! I advertise recipes for that all the time on my blog! BUT!…. there is an exception to this. Kids need to cook sometimes. Remember being a child and sitting on the countertop with mum or grandma and stirring the batter or cracking the eggs? We cannot forget to do this with our children because otherwise… who is going to teach them?

So I have a challenge for all of you amazing parents. When you cook, and by cook, I mean cook anything: tacos, Kraft Dinner, fancy French cuisine, or good ol’ meatloaf. Once a week, whatever day is best, have your child cook with you. I don’t mean let them sit there and stir while you do everything else, I mean…. you tell them what to do, help them, support them, and have these brilliant little munchkins cook a fabulous meal for your family! So if you decide they can make Sunday lunch, stand with them, put some tunes on, have some laughs, and explain how to make that grilled cheese and soup. Watch how amazing they just will be!

Children are sponges, however, they don’t learn by watching you; kids need to be hands on. Caulton, T. (1998) examined this and notes that even in museums, children will learn the material better if there are hands-on activities. When you have them sit and watch you make eggs, for example, they are bored. Then their attention drifts, you get upset, the child gets upset, they now hate to cook and they will eat McDonalds all the time as adults. Ok…….. maaaybe a little extreme… but not totally ridiculous. The respect for cooking needs to be taught and in the home is exactly where these things happen! Not only will this teach your child important ways of living and values you want them to have, it will also improve their vocabulary. Children learn vocabulary a lot easier and faster when those little hands are moving and they are in a positive environment. They will learn words in the kitchen, what different ingredients are and any other different words you use around them while cooking. Leung, C.B. (2008) proves this while examining children playing and experimenting while learning scientific vocabulary. So we can take from this, even when your child is in the kitchen and has a spelling test the next day, have them stir the batter and spell their words! Make it fun!

So try this challenge!! Please! Also share your stories and pictures of cooking in the kitchen with your children with me! I’d love to hear the results!

Caulton, T. (1998). Hands-on exhibitions: managing interactive museums and science centres. Psychology Press.

Leung, C. B. (2008). Preschoolers’ acquisition of scientific vocabulary through repeated read-aloud events, retellings, and hands-on science activities. Reading Psychology, 29(2), 165-193.

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