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Friday, November 18, 2016

Helping in the Kitchen by Trisha Roberts

Teaching Cooking Skills to children

Teaching cooking and baking skills can be especially pleasurable now that the Fall and Winter Holidays are upon us. Working together to make a wonderful meal or snack is a great way to spend time together, build relationships, and learn the life skills of food preparation and clean up.

Your child can have an opportunity to work on every area of development while enjoying an entertaining activity.

Speech and Language Skills can be augmented with new vocabulary words like “cream”, “simmer”, or “fold”.  There will be plenty of time for talking and sharing. As conversation flows, you will learn things that might never have surfaced in day-to-day routine intercourse.

Fine Motor Skills can be enhanced while opening a package, beating a mixture, lining a cup cake pan, using a rolling pin or cookie cutter, frosting a cupcake, greasing and flouring a pan, washing and rinsing dishes, cracking/peeling/separating an egg, inserting beaters into a hand mixer…..the list goes on and on.

Cognitive Skills come naturally when baking and cooking, as a child reads a recipe, follows instructions, measures ingredients or performs the math skills necessary to double a recipe.  One can also talk about solids, liquids and gases as well as measure, fractions, and volume.

Gross Motor Skills such as balance and postural control can be developed as a child stands, moves, and plans motor movements in the relatively smaller space of a kitchen.

Tips for Parents:

Put on some fun background music to liven the atmosphere.  Who knows?  Maybe your child will be the next “Singing Chef”!

Always stress safety.  Talk about the potential danger of boiling liquids, sharp knives, and stovetops and ovens that stay hot even after they are turned off.

Look for activities on par with a child’s ability so that the experience will be positive and successful. 

Demonstrate an activity and provide hand-over-hand assistance when needed.

For younger children, it can be a challenge to get them to the right working height without risking their safety.  ProEducationalToys offers a great Kitchen Helper that is perfect for providing a stable place to work at the same height as the kitchen counters or sink.  Bringing a child-sized table and chair into the kitchen could also be a solution.

When making pie dough, it’s always enjoyable to allow your child to make their own small tartlet.  Put a dab of butter on it and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon before baking to a golden brown. Or place the dough in a small, greased ramekin or baking cup to bake and fill with fruit or jam when cooled.

Kids making a tartletKids making a tartlet

Have realistic expectations. Expecting perfection the first time a child cracks an egg is not realistic.  Have them crack the egg into a large, flat bowl and then fish out any shells that might remain on the egg.

Let kids “dress the part” by wearing a child-sized apron that will help confine the splatters and smears. You might also consider purchasing small cooking utensils that are more easily held and manipulated by a child’s hand.

Remember to make it gratifying and pleasant for both of you.  Relax.  A kitchen floor can always be cleaned, a crushed cookie can be still be eaten, but a broken heart can only be mended, at best.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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