Children love to help in the kitchen and, as long as they are in a safe-environment, this love should be encouraged. When a children help in the kitchen they learn and develop so many skills.
Before inviting a child to help in the kitchen, adults need to be aware that children need to be given simple jobs that can be explained, and completed one step at a time. The adults need to remember that cooking with children is messy, but they can also be made to help with the clean-up afterward.
Children can be exposed to a myriad of words that are used in mathematics. They learn, when measuring, they may need “more than” or “less than”.
They can also use this setting to compare measuring systems. Perhaps parents can introduce them to a liter, then compare it to a quart of liquid. Grams and ounces can also be used. They can also use this opportunity to learn to estimate how much of something is needed.
When a child is asked to decorate a cake, they can learn counting skills by placing a specific number of decorations on an item. This helps build one-on-one correspondence between the number of items and the numbers.
A child can learn about two- and three-dimensional shapes by using cookie cutters to draw a shape and to use it to cut out a shape. They can then be led in a discussion of the characteristics of each and how a two dimensional drawing differs from a three dimensional one.
As a cake or cookies are baking, children begin to learn about time. They gain a sense of how long 30 minutes is compared to the length of time a television show is, or how long it takes to read a book.
Children gain a vast amount of literacy skills while cooking. Their vocabulary grows as they learn the words needed to complete an item. They also learn how sequencing items helps reach the end. They learn that instructions need to be read from left to right and from top to bottom. They also learn the meaning of words such as nearly, least, one more and many more.
When children are asked to pick up a spoon. They learn the meaning of the direction and the specific tool needed. They also learn the names of the ingredients used and other utensils.
Word recognition is also built when a child is shown a specific word, such as milk, and then is asked to find that item in the recipe.
The world of science is all around children, especially when cooking. Children can learn how to observe, measure and make predictions. They can also learn how something can change physically when they watch a liquid batter turn to a solid cake. They can also learn how ingredients change chemically by mixing items together.
The origins of foods can also be introduced while cooking. Children can learn how milk comes from dairy animals, such as cows, or goats. They can also learn about food that comes from farms, or from backyard gardens.
Nutritional needs can also be discussed while cooking. Such as how different food is converted in the body and which foods are healthy and which are not.
Children build many fine motor skills while cooking. They build the strength in their hands plus they build coordination. Different directions, like shaking, rolling, cutting, help to build different skills
This is also a good time to encourage children to understand their senses as they touch, smell, see, taste, and at time, hear different items cook.
If a child is asked to cook with another child, each will learn how to share and take turns. Then when the preparation is done, everyone can sit down as a group to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Children can be so much fun to have in the kitchen as long as the adult keeps safety in mind.