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Saturday, 01 January 2000

Cooking with Kids Can Be Fun! Why?

Written by  Esther Boylan Wolfson

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Part One:
Why Cook With Kids

Does your child constantly bother you while you're preparing food in the kitchen?

Are you tired of hearing your child complain about the food you make?

Here's my suggestion: Involve your child in the cooking process!

I love cooking with children. I know, I know -- sometimes kids make a mess in the kitchen. Everything takes longer to do and what if the kids ruin the recipe?

Any or all of the above may be true, but the potential for fun and learning outweigh the risks! And you may discover that you love it, too!

Kids love being involved with preparing food. That's part of why they're so likely to get in the way in your kitchen. They're interested in what you're doing, while you may be ignoring them.

So rather than push them away, draw them in.

Cooking activities are appropriate for children aged two and up. Obviously, the kind of involvement and learning is different for a two-year-old and a five-year-old, but both can be involved in the process, learn while cooking and have fun!

Let me show you some of the many ways children learn through cooking and then I'll give you some directions on how to teach your child while you're cooking and still get supper ready. (Yes, it may take a bit longer to prepare, but think of all the time you'll save by not having to constantly stop to keep your child from getting in the way.)

1. Following Directions: Teach your child what a recipe is and that one must "follow the directions" in order for the recipe to work. Children learn that you must read directions and follow them in a certain order to get the result you want.

2. Simple Arithmetic: Compare amounts. Are we putting in more flour or more baking powder? What is bigger, a half cup or a whole cup? How many half cups do you need to equal a whole cup? Develop his sequencing skills. Ask him, "What do we do first...second...last?"

3. Sensory Awareness: Use ingredients with a variety of textures, smells, and tastes. Let him feel the difference between rice and beans. Let him taste the difference between sugar and salt. Have him smell the differences between various spices and the sweet smell of vanilla.

4. Vocabulary Enrichment: Enhance your child's knowledge of ingredients and items found around your kitchen. Flour, sugar and eggs may seem like everyday words to you, but they are not basic to your three-year-old.

5. Concept Development: Improve your child's understanding of concepts: Hard vs. soft, liquid vs. solid, hot vs. cold, raw vs. baked, in the bowl vs. out of the bowl, fast vs. slow, etc.

6. Cause and Effect Relationships: Increase your child's ability to answer questions like: "What happens if . . . (you add juice instead of water, you use bananas instead of strawberries)?" Children can learn how adding, leaving out or changing one ingredient can change the entire product.

7. Cooperation: Improve your child's ability to work together with you and with other children. This includes waiting for his turn and having fun in a joint activity.

Sounds good -- right? Now, how do you as a parent teach your children all this great stuff during one activity?

You can find out by reading part two of this article: Cooking With Kids: Here's How to Do It.

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 12:24
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Esther Boylan Wolfson

Esther Boylan Wolfson

Esther Wolfson , director of our Early Childhood Development Center is an Early Childhood Specialist, who received her BA in English Communications from Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University and an MA in Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, both in New York City. Esther worked as a pre-school special education teacher for seven years. Three of those years were spent working in a school for language delayed pre-schoolers, which is her area of specialty. Another special love of hers is cooking with young children. One of her most enjoyable projects was developing a program for cooking with pre-school children for three special education programs. Esther and her husband Myles have three boys aged eight, five and two-years-old. While her three lively boys and her work at WholeFamily, keep her quite busy, in her spare time (if she ever has any!) she is an avid reader who also enjoys creative writing, exercising and swimming.

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