I always found it humorous that children love doing the things that we as adults hate to do & vice versa. They fight naps & taking a baths while these are things that I dream about. Doing dishes & sweeping the floor are not my favorite activities in the world, but yet my daughter can’t wait to get her hands wet & pick up a broom. Children like to emulate what they see their parents doing. My daughter like many little girls has a play kitchen. She spends many hours a week cooking up delicious meals for mommy & daddy.
I used to find it difficult to prepare meals & clean up the kitchen with Mai running around. I realized the easiest way to get things done was just to involve my daughter. Cooking with my daughter is not only a fun bonding activity that we can share, but it also has a lot of learning opportunities as well.
1. Measurements – From as young as I can remember one of our daughter’s favorite toys has been our measuring cups & spoons. Now that she is older, she has learned that they are also used for other things. Show your child the different size cups & spoons & explain to them what each one is. Let them scoop and measure. Assist them for accurate measurements. Let them pour the measured substance into the mixing bowl or dish.
2. Following Directions – Toddlers are not always the best at listening or following directions. Our daughter is no different, but when we are engaged in an activity such as cooking or baking, she is surprisingly attentive. Explain what needs to be done in each step & let them help with anything that she can do safely. Offer them encouraging pointers along the way.
3. Hand eye coordination – All of that pouring & measuring requires a little bit of dexterity. It may take some time, but with practice you will see their abilities grow. Our daughter has become great at pouring.
4. Counting – This is an especially fun side activity while you cook. If you are working with items such as chick peas, lentils, pasta or chocolate chips ask them to count out a small number of them for you. My daughter loves counting and separating.
6. Teamwork – A lot of toddlers wrestle with asserting their independence. This is a wonderful thing, but it also important for them not to lose sight of being able to work together as a team. Cooking and baking is also a great bonding moment for you & your child or your whole family.
7. Reading labels – Reading does not always have to be in just your children’s bedtime stories. Take every opportunity that you can to read to your toddler and point out new words. If you are following a recipe, read it aloud and point out the words and pictures.
8. Home Economics – Let’s not forget the main task at hand which is to cook or bake something fabulous. At an early age your child is learning basic principles in cooking. Hopefully this will encourage a love for cooking and maybe someday they will be fixing you gourmet dinners & desserts.
9. Responsibility – Making a mess in the kitchen is the fun part, the clean up after leaves something to be desired. Throwing away trash, wiping down the counters and doing the dishes are chores that I could do without, but like I said before our children seem to love this part. That sets a good foundation for chores in the future.