Cooking with your child is an excellent way to spend quality time together. It is fun, educational, and you both get to enjoy a delicious meal at the end!
While it is obvious that a child can learn more about food from partaking in its preparation, there are other valuable skills he or she can gain from helping you in the kitchen:
- Fine motor skills: This refers to the small muscles we use in our hands to control tools. The development of these skills is essential to a productive and independent life. As children move into preschool age, they begin to develop mastery over these fine movements. Helping in the kitchen with different cutlery and utensils would be an excellent way to further this development1.
- Math: Measuring is typically an integral part of cooking. Allowing your child to attempt the measurements on his or her own would allow them a greater understanding of fractions and the relative amount each measurement represents (i.e. tablespoon versus cup versus teaspoon).
- How to follow directions: Your child will see the positive results that come from following a recipe correctly (delicious food!). This could translate to them following instructions more closely in other areas of their life.
- How to work with others: By dividing the work to prepare the food, your child is practicing working in a group setting- a valuable skill to carry through life.
- Confidence: By imparting responsibility onto your child, you are showing that you trust them with an important task. When they are successful in helping to produce a meal that everyone can enjoy, their confidence will “According to Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, ‘children cannot gain genuine confidence without experiencing their own competence’”2.
- How to Shop Smart: Include your child in every aspect of food preparation, including shopping! It is an excellent way to introduce them to budgeting and shopping smart. They can also learn more about where to find certain ingredients in a grocery store by assisting you in finding them.
- “Self-help” skills: Your child can also help with the clean-up process. This will not only help you out with dish duty, but also teach them to be self-sufficient.
These are just a few examples of the positive outcomes of including your child in food preparation. So the next time you are making a meal, set aside a task for your little one, and enjoy all of these positive results!
–Megan Fiorillo, Penn State Class of 2017, BS Biobehavioral Health