Cooking or baking with your child is a simple and fun activity that also fosters wonderful skill development. So not only do you get quality time with your child in the kitchen (plus a yummy treat when the activity is finished!) but you get to help your little one learn and grow.
For example, most kitchen work requires basic cutting, mixing, measuring and pouring. These activities require your child to use his fingers and hands in small, controlled movements. When cutting, your will need to hold the knife steady in his dominant hand while his non-dominant hand holds the item being cut. And when your child is stirring he will need to use his non-dominant hand to stabilize the bowl as his dominant hand stirs.
Plus, whether you are following a recipe or making a boxed cake mix, nearly everything on your counter as you cook will have words and letters on it. While cooking, your child will see you reading the words on the recipe and also reading the labels of the various food items to make sure you have the correct item. This process will reinforce the idea to your child that letters and words have special meaning and must be read carefully and in a particular order.
Tips for getting started!
When first bringing your child into the kitchen with you, start small. A boxed cake or brownie mix is the perfect first recipe for children ages four and older, as it requires measuring only 2 or 3 ingredients and does not require a formal process of adding ingredients in a very specific order.
Make sure you have enough time to complete the entire recipe. As a general rule, consider how long it would take you to make the specific recipe and then triple the time. Your child will likely want to stop periodically to smell the ingredients or touch the consistency of the mix, or he may want to stir far longer than the recipe calls for. Allowing extra time will encourage your child’s natural curiosity, ensuring he gets the most out of the experience.
Before beginning, set the stage for your child by putting all ingredients, spoons and measuring cups out on the counter and within his reach. Then, regardless of your child’s age, look at the recipe together with him. Older children can read aloud a few words from their sight word vocabulary or sound out a few basic words like “water” or “stir.” Younger children can point to the words as you read them and you can challenge your child to “point to the letter e in the word ‘egg’ in the recipe,” for example.
Empower your child to attempt each step of the recipe, from opening the box to adding the ingredients to pouring the mixture into a baking pan or serving dish. Also, to increase your child’s likelihood for success, plan for a family-style presentation of the dessert. That way your child only needs to pour the batter or mix into one large baking pan or container, rather than into individual-sized pans or bowls.
At meal time, let your child introduce the food you created together. This will give him a sense of ownership over the created dish and will allow him to feel the pride of sharing something he worked hard to create. For more information on helping your young child succeed, please visit www.schoolsparks.com for a free kindergarten readiness test and free kindergarten worksheets.
Have fun and enjoy!
About This Author
Renee Abramovitz is a a former preschool and kindergarten teacher who retired in 2008 to become a “full-time grandma” to her four beautiful grandsons. She is passionate about the idea that all parents are their child’s first and most important teacher and strives to give parents the tools and confidence they need to successfully work with their children at home. Renee shares tips for working with young children at www.schoolsparks.com where she offers a free kindergarten readiness test parents can take to assess their child’s readiness to start school plus hundreds upon hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets for parents to use at home with their children.