Cooking up Some Fun with Your Preschooler

I am happy to have a guest blogger for you today!  Meet Emily Patterson.  She has written a great piece for you on cooking with your preschooler.

Bubbling pots, sizzling skillets and delicious smells can make the kitchen a fascinating – yet dangerous – place for young children. However, the potential hazards don’t have to keep children out of the kitchen. Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of education for Primrose Preschools, says kitchen time can be a great way for families to regain some lost, but valuable, family time.

With the kitchen being a popular place for families to gather, it can easily become a place that encourages learning and sharing as well.  You can also help to develop a sense of responsibility in the kitchen by letting them participate in daily tasks and at the same time freshen up their math skills and teach them the importance of making healthy choices in the kitchen.

Parents can keep the kitchen safe and fun for children by following this simple recipe:

1.       Engage your child meaningfully. Think about what tasks your child can do independently. Completing simple jobs like mixing batter, rolling dough and measuring water can boost a child’s sense of pride and accomplishment. Tearing lettuce, adding sprinkles to sweets and shaking parmesan onto pasta are other safe, satisfying tasks children can easily accomplish. Even very young children can get involved – give them some pots, pans and wooden spoons so they can pretend to cook with you or use them for music-making. Safe and easy independent tasks like this give them a way to feel like they’re helping too.

2.       Set some ground rules. Children need supervision when they’re in the kitchen, so establish a list of basic safety rules and make sure children are always within sight. Teach children to wash their hands before and after handling food to avoid spreading germs. Discuss on a regular basis what’s safe to touch and what’s not.  Make sure the handles of pots and pans are turned inward on the stovetop so you and older children don’t accidentally bump them and spill hot liquids or food.

3.       Build up skills step-by-step. Children can develop many essential skills in the kitchen, such as following recipes or counting slices of bread. For more advanced skills, start slowly and have your child master easy tasks before attempting harder ones. Teach older children to use a knife by starting them off with cutting soft items like cheese and cooked noodles with a dull spreader. As your child’s coordination develops, they can move on to slicing or sawing vegetables and fruit with a plastic knife.

4.       Keep it fun. Cooking can be messy even without children, so don’t stress over the “oops” moments. If the cookie batter ends up on the floor instead of the baking sheet, offer some guidance and let your child try again. You can make cleaning it up fun too!

When your meal is complete, be sure to compliment your sous chef on a job well done. Offer them the first taste of whatever you cooked together and ask them what you should make next time. Bon appétit!

Submitted by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early preschool services and education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Emily has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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This is what we did with our children. They grew up helping with everything around the house and they, and we, have wonderful memories. They had fun while acquiring all sorts of life skills. We looked for ways to make learning fun and in the process, they earned this great sense of accomplishment. Great article.