Why and how kids should be involved in the kitchen?

Let me guess now!

Why get children in the kitchen?

They are too small for it. They anyways have so much of other stuff to do. Then why boggle them with additional stuff. Moreover the mess that they make! And the vastly longer time they take in doing petty things! Above all, a kitchen is not a child’s territory!

Well, here we might be missing on the bigger part of the game. A little introspection might be a good help.

Familiarizing with food  

I have always struggled with being a mom of a picky eater. I think a lot of moms will be able to relate with me. Sometimes, kids find the food too moist or squishy to touch or feel, unpleasing to smell, raw or unusual to look at, or just not fitting the criteria of their normal food. And that ends up getting us worried. Why only my child!  
Nothing to worry. This happens with most kids! More or less!  
A lot of times kids don’ like a particular food not because of the taste it has, but because it doesn’t appeal to any of their senses. Kitchen can be your rescue here. You will realize that there can be no place as great as this to ignite their interest in food. Kitchen can bring them closer to newer food and acquaint them with how a particular food smells, how it feels to touch and even how it might taste.  It lets them familiarize, explore and experiment. And who knows here they might discover their new favorite.
So no more of Eww! and Yuck! Or may be a little less of it. (Keeping fingers crossed)

Motor skills booster

Have you ever noticed a pre-schooler making use of scissors? While one might struggle to get the grip of its hands, the other who is of the same age might seem quite be adept at it. The reason is simple. The usage of hand muscles or fine motor skills varies. The first one might not have practised it or might not have been much exposed to working with hands.

Handling simple tools in the kitchen are a great way to boost motor skills in kids. By doing simple tasks like peeling their eggs or putting jam on their bread or adding and stirring sugar in their milk, they just get better with using their hands. So hand out all such chances of mashing, picking, sifting, whisking every now and then.  A little of this and a little of that will go wrong but a lot of right will come their way.

Count and measure concepts

2 bananas, 1 cup of milk, 8 ounces of butter, 500 ml of water.

We don’t even realize how often we deal with numbers in the kitchen. So why not introduce them to different measuring tools and units of measurement working in kitchen.  Why not tell them about numbers by counting veggies, or tell about time by keeping a track of it on the oven, or introduce them to ounces and liters through regular simple stuff in our kitchen. Sometimes their wide vague curiosity helps them collect their bits of information.

Self-accomplishment

Remember how amazing it felt when for the first time you prepared that full-fledged meal for your parents. The feeling of self-sufficiency and pride you derived then was a motivation enough to lift your spirits up. Similarly, it goes with our kids. They discover a sense of self accomplishment in doing simple chores in the kitchen. Assign them simple tasks and appreciate them for all what they do. That is probably the most integral part.

Responsibility and compassion

Lip smacking dishes, steamy soups, and delightful desserts! Well that’s not only it what we make in a kitchen. It’s in the kitchen where personalities can be framed. Kids can learn a lot of traits while doing simple stuff in kitchen like being helpful, understanding, responsible, disciplined and open minded. A win-win for parents anyways!

Child engagement

Boredom among children is an endemic. They just get bored of playing the same toys and games and doing the same regular stuff with friends and siblings. Kitchen is a new area to explore now. It will keep them busy and also give them a chance to work on a new hobby. So now when you think of picking those herbs, assign bunches of those to two of your young ones and ask them to see who finishes first (clever, huh!). Or, just let them ice their own cupcakes and cookies or top the desserts.

So when is the right time to get my child into the kitchen?

Involving kids in the kitchen is a great idea at any age. While babies can be introduced to kitchen by letting them explore texture and colour of different food like oats, beans, veggies, fruits. Young kids can be made to do basic chores in an interesting way like cleaning the veggies, mashing tomatoes or cutting using a plastic knife. Grown up kids on the other hand can cook simple recipes.

How much will be enough?

Well, that will depend on your understanding of their ability. Don’t burden them with extra stuff or don’t just assume that they won’t be able to. Believe me, most of the times they will just amaze you with their interest and abilities. Some of the tasks that can be assigned include the following:

Babies
Pouring liquid from one bowl to other
Measuring (or just doing something about) any dry food in a measuring cup
Using spoon over soft food (for eating or just playing)

Young kids
Picking herbs
Peeling eggs
Setting the table
Washing vegetables
Putting grocery at its place
Cleaning the cutting board
Spreading jam on bread
Stirring the flour
Grating cheese
Whisking eggs
Seasoning the food
Cutting cookies using a cookie cutter

Older kids
Cooking simple recipes
Using the blender
Chopping, dicing, slicing etc.
Sautéing
Preparing tea/coffee
Grilling sandwiches

What if my child just doesn’t seem interested?

Now, my child doesn’t seem to be interested in doing kitchen stuff.

But hey, here you might be getting it wrong.

Children are born with curiosity and with the love of learning about things around. The same goes for the kitchen too. They have a natural inclination towards cooking and elements of kitchen. So if they don’t seem interested, chances are we are making it look too mundane to them.

So what next?

Create, entertain and appreciate.

Assign your kids something as a chore and they will hate it. So it’s time to get creative and interesting. Sell the tasks and make it look rewarding. Keep the keyword as ‘Lets do it’ rather than ‘do it’. Do all sensible stuff in all ridiculous ways possible. Make activities around the kitchen fun. Appreciate enormously for the smallest task they do. And soon a lot will happen– some smacking food, some horrendous disasters and butts of laughter. Not forgetting to mention the spills and the mess. Anyways, it’s all so worth it!


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