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Dec. 5, 2016

Sometimes as parents, we try so hard to secure the latest and greatest toys, apps, and games, that we forget that the best learning materials are already right inside our very own homes. If you’re looking for a great learning experience for your child, look no farther than the kitchen! While it might seem daunting for you to bring your little aspiring chef or baker into the kitchen as you prepare this season’s holiday treats, cooking with your children can be a great way to reinforce skills important to kids’ early learning.

You might be wondering how exactly cooking with your children can help them learn and practice budding life skills. And what about safety? Can young children safely cook with parents? No worries! As long as you’re taking the lead and showing your child exactly what to do, your child will safely learn a wealth of skills. Inviting your child into the kitchen can help enforce:

Problem-solving skills

Recipes are nothing more than puzzles waiting to be solved. By following a recipe with your child, you are teaching them that certain steps need to be completed in a particular order. This helps to build your child to build important sequencing and cause and effect skills.

Talk your child through the recipe, and narrate aloud each step that needs to be completed. Allow your child to get the needed materials, and help them through the recipe step-by-step.

Creativity

Something great about cooking is that there are a lot of choices to be made in the kitchen! Encourage your little baker to get creative by choosing the colors or design for cupcakes, or cookies. Allow your child to put his or her favorite color sprinkles on baked goods, and to get creative with piping or frosting.

In the future, you and your child can expand your horizons and explore making homemade play dough, or bake some tasty treats for your four-legged family members! Everyday sensory experiences are also valuable learning experiences, and are extremely important in a kids’ early learning. 

Character development

One of the major cause and effect lessons your child will learn in the kitchen is the idea that patience and hard work can result in something delicious and rewarding. In helping you cook and bake, your child will take pride in your creations, earning the satisfaction of a job well done. This will translate to other endeavors later in life, helping your child to see the benefit behind hard work and perseverance.

Did your recipe burn or turn out differently than you expected? No worries! Your child will learn how to cope with disappointment, and the importance of trying again.

Social skills

One feature of cooking and baking is the fact that there are certain rules to follow. For instance, children should know not to touch glass after dropping a plate, and they need to self-regulate their behaviors to follow the recipe in the correct sequence.

In teaching your child the rules, they will learn what is appropriate behavior in the kitchen. They will also learn to interact with you by asking questions and waiting for instructions. In doing this, your child will inadvertently learn valuable social skills in learning how to interact with you while and following the rules in your kitchen. 

Motor skills

In helping you cook and bake, your child will gain an awareness of him or herself and build essential hand-eye coordination while exploring cooking utensils and food that comes in different shapes, sizes, and textures.

Take the opportunity to teach your child how to knead dough, or make cookies from a ball of dough. Allow your child to pour ingredients from a measuring cup into a bowl, and teach them to properly measure ingredients. Your child will build precision over time, allowing him or her to practice fine motor skills. 

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This holiday season don’t be afraid to let your child in on the fun, and coach them along the way. Inviting your children into the kitchen with you while you cook or bake up your family’s favorite treats will double as an important source of learning for your little learner. You’ll both have fun, and your child will learn vital skills and build memories that will last a lifetime!

 

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