Benefits of Cooking with Kids and How Your Child Can Help
Cooking with children? Some parents would view the kitchen as a child-free area in the house, especially when they are preparing a meal, while others love including their child in food preparation. Though allowing children to play a part in “kitchen work” is a demanding task that requires lots of patience, these activities are extremely worth the effort and longer cleaning process thereafter!
Benefits of Cooking With Kids
Cooking and Baking are amazing sensory experiences for children of all ages – even infants! By being in the kitchen, children will be exposed to many new textures through hands-on preparation, and experience new smells as the food cooks!
How Can Children Help In Cooking and Baking?
Ready and convinced to let your child help out in cooking and baking? Here are some ways you can start to get kids to help out in the kitchen, with activities tailored to the different age range and abilities. Since all kids develop at different rates, your child may be ready to complete a task earlier or later than suggested and feel free to tweak them!
Infant (0 to 17 months)
At this age, the best way to allow your baby to participate in the kitchen is simply to let them observe you cooking and preparing food. You can bring them into a safe area in the kitchen, put them on a highchair, and give them a similar tool you are using. For instance, if you are mixing up some batter with a wooden spoon, you could give them a spare one and talk to them about what you are doing. Talking with infants help build a strong foundation for language and communication skills and it helps them to make sense of what they are actually seeing you do!
As you move from one step to another, they can practise their visual tracking skills. You could also let them smell and touch the ingredients, making cooking and baking an exciting activity that they can watch and experience!
Pre-Nursery / Playgroup (18 months to 2 years)
Children at this age like to play with ingredients and will be able to help you with simple tasks. You can get them to pour dry and liquid ingredients into a bowl, mix chopped vegetables, mash a banana, rinse fruits and vegetables, tear leafy vegetables into pieces or sprinkle salt on a dish.
Although they will still need lots of supervision, instruction and help at this age, your little one will be extremely enthusiastic about helping you in the kitchen!
Nursery (2 to 4 years)
The tasks that this age group can do is quite similar to the previous ones, but this time, you can further challenge them by getting them to help in comparing and contrasting such as when plating, you could ask them if the amount of rice is the same in each bowl or give them tasks like measuring how liquids or spices.
To work on their fine motor skills, get them to transfer ingredients using different tools or peel a cooled hard-boiled egg. They will need to concentrate and use the little muscles in their fingers to complete these tasks.
Kindergarten (4 to 6 years)
Older children can be given more responsibilities in the kitchen. During breakfast, they should be able to spread butter and jam onto bread. You can also get them to count and give out food such as, put 5 cherry tomatoes into every bowl or place 3 cube pineapples on the pizza. Allow them to develop decision-making and planning skills by entrusting them to decide the menu for the family or even something as simple as which fruit jam they should use. Preschoolers can be granted the creative space to set up the dinner table using light-weight cutlery and plates.
With supervision, they can also cut soft foods using plastic knives and crack eggs into a bowl. To further challenge them, get them to cut ingredients with more specific instructions such as cutting the banana into 5 equal parts.
Busy BakerTM (Culinary Arts) Enrichment @ Mulberry Learning
At Mulberry Learning, children are given opportunities to create foods on their own. Children can engage in sensory activities and gain hands-on practical experiences. By getting them involved in cooking and baking, they develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and learn the early concepts of Mathematics and Science; all while having fun! Together with their peers, they may be assembling a pizza, stirring batter for a cupcake, or decorating a ready-made cake!
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About Mulberry Learning
Established in 2006, Mulberry Learning is an award-winning Reggio-inspired preschool with 11 locations around Singapore. Mulberry Learning is the world’s first and only preschool network certified by the USA for the Habits of MindTM framework, and its curriculum has been voted as “Singapore’s Best Holistic Learning Programme” for 3 years running by leading parenting publications.
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