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Cooking with kids: big fun, with a dash of skill development

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Courtesy of Amy Deline

(Read caption) Cooking with kids: big fun, with a dash of skill development. Modern Parenthood invites a gourmand mom to to write about the benefits, for parent and child, of rolling up your sleeves and whipping something delicious up in the kitchen together.

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For many years now, I have enjoyed combining two of my favorite topics; cooking and education. Cooking can be a fun pastime to share with children of all ages. But it’s more than just an engaging activity. Cooking is absolutely bursting with opportunities for children to develop new skills!

Just a few of the many skills that are developed through cooking:

  • Vocabulary Development – names of foods, cooking terms, procedural language
  • Following Directions – single and multi-step directions
  • Sequencing Skills – following the steps in the directions, retelling the sequence of steps
  • Fine Motor Skill Development – stirring, pouring, mashing, cutting soft objects
  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Social Emotional Development – feeling pride and sense of accomplishment, following directions, turn-taking, participation
  • Science Knowledge – change of state from liquid to solid, heating and cooling, dissolving
  • Math Knowledge – measuring, counting
  • Willingness to experiment with new foods – kids may be more open to trying something they had a hand in making

A few tips to help make your cooking experience enjoyable for everyone:

  • Give yourself extra time.
  • Be prepared for a little extra mess.
  • Select tasks which are age-appropriate for your child.  (Kids are expert mixers, pourers, and banana-mashers!) Give them tasks to keep them occupied between steps.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! In the culinary field, one often hears the French phrase, “mise en place.” Essentially, this translates to “everything in its place.” It simply involves the practice of gathering, measuring, and preparing all ingredients prior to beginning the cooking process. This practice is useful for all cooking, but is especially helpful when you’re working with young kids, with short attention spans.
  • Don’t forget to model good sanitary practices, such washing hands and using clean utensils. (Keep a few extra spoons nearby so you can quickly replace spoons used for tasting!)

Children learn best when they are engaged in meaningful, hands-on activities. So, next time you’re in the kitchen, grab your kid (or borrow someone else’s) and get cooking!

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Amy Deline blogs at The Gourmand Mom.


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