A Recipe for Learning: Family Safety, Nutrition & Cooking

DanGilbert's picture

The kitchen, with all of its hot surfaces and pleasing aromas, can be both a highly fascinating as well as a highly dangerous place to be, particularly for small children. This certainly does not mean the kitchen should be off limits. Preschool children have growing minds making it easy for them to learn new concepts. Time spent in the kitchen as a family is a great bonding activity that can be appreciated by both adults and children alike. Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of education for Primrose Schools, says kitchen time can be a great way for families to regain some lost, but valuable, family time.

There is no doubt that the kitchen is often the main gathering place of the home. Along with being a great place for learning, families are able to come together and spend some essential quality time. “Children can also develop a sense of responsibility by sharing in daily tasks,” said Dr. Zurn.Take advantage of this time to include your children in daily cooking tasks all the while ensuring a safe environment for them to learn and grow. 

Engaging children, even preschool aged children, can be beneficial in many ways. Simple tasks like mixing batter, or rolling dough will help a child’s hand eye coordination develop. However, skills such as following directions, taking responsibility and learning time management can also be taught to children. Other than basic and complex skills, children can also be taught nutritional concepts. Cooking or baking is an easy way for youngsters to learn the importance of eating healthy.

Parents can make the kitchen both a fun and safe environment by keeping the using the following tips shared by Primrose Schools in mind:

Establish Safety Rules

Children of all ages should always be supervised when working in the kitchen and giving them a set of rules to follow should never be overlooked. Make sure that they are washing their hands thoroughly both before as well as after handling food so that no germs are spread. Ensure that they know what they are allowed to touch and what they are not. This will depend both upon their age and skill-set in the kitchen. When working with your children, always make sure that all pans and pots have their handles facing inward while on the stove as you don't want to run the risk of them being bumped and spilling hot contents. 


Keep Children Productively Engaged

Consider what tasks your children will be able to do by themselves. Even the simplest jobs like mixing ingredients, rolling out dough, and adding sprinkles to cupcakes can encourage both a feeling of accomplishment as well as pride in your children. Children who are unable to perform these tasks can also take part in a number of ways. For infants, nothing is more fun than having some pots and pans and a spoon to bang them with. Measuring cups are also a safe kitchen instrument for toddlers to use or give them a whisk and show them the motions that they would make in the bowl if they were mixing batter. Including them and having them be a part of the experience is sure to encourage them to actively participate when they are old enough to do so. 

Gradually Increase Your Children's Skill Level

There are many things that can be taught in the kitchen, from counting out ingredients, following recipes, and using various utensils. Make sure to start with the basics like mixing and gradually work your way up to more complicated skills like cutting.

Don't Lose Sight of the Fun

We all know that cooking is a messy business, even for the most experienced. If your child ends up inevitably spilling something, don't stress and become angry. Teach them the proper means of cleaning and make it a fun family activity. And, whatever you do, make sure to bestow compliments and praise on your assistant chefs!

Turning an every day task into a memorable moment shared with your child is something to cherish. Cooking is something we do everyday and would otherwise be lost family time. So keep these tips in mind, grab your kids and start cooking! 

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