Why do I love kids in the kitchen?
Officially, letting your kids help you in the kitchen is supposed to make them more interested in the food they eat. And more likely to try new foods. Same goes for grocery shopping. I can’t say it has worked for my very picky eater. But, he does love muffins, which is, perhaps, telling.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about using baking as an early introduction to math skills, and I can certainly say we’ve had more success with this. Dylan – at 3 – knows that 1/2 a tablespoon is smaller than a tablespoon, for example. He’s also getting adept at counting eggs, or cups of milk needed to make yogurt. I can see the easy bridges to multiplication, dividing, fractions, adding. I like this real world application. One of the best things about it is the fact that it is so natural. Just as kids don’t need to be told to learn language, I think my kids will probably naturally absorb the relational sizes of things like cups, tablespoons and the like (my apologies to all the Canadians and the like reading this, I can’t seem to cook metric).
Another thing I love about kids in the kitchen is the fact that it is such a sensory experience. While my son is mixing cookies (yes, sometimes with his bare hands), my daughter might be on the floor mucking about with a bowl of oats. Dylan always wants to feel the baking soda after it’s been levelled nice and smooth in the measuring spoon. Both kids always want to smell the spices we use. It’s visually stimulating, and, of course, there’s the tasting! True, these sensory experiences are a large part of what create the aforementioned “interesting creations” (read: messes), but I figure since I’m making a mess of my kitchen while cooking anyways, why not take advantage?
Speaking of messes. I’ve also been one of those lazy / flexible / crazy mothers who never put child locks on her kitchen cupboards. Don’t worry, I’m not neglectful. Anything dangerous has long since been moved well out of reach. But, this does allow for easy access to a myriad of kitchen “toys.” Pots and pans, tupperware, mixers, bread makers, crock pots, and oats are regular players in the kitchen theatre that goes on in our house. Again, more messes. But, I have to say, it is amazing what creations my son can make, and how wonderfully he can be entertained while playing coffee shop, or making po-pos (porridge), and what sort of uses he comes up with for a salad maker.
But, perhaps, my favourite reason why I love kids in the kitchen, is the fact that it has made me happier in the kitchen, too. I am proud to say, for the first time in my life, I am actually interested in what I am cooking. Wanting to try out new recipes. Enjoying the process of food preparation, not just food inhalation. Having kids has certainly changed my outlook on many, many things. But, one of those things is health. And, I am so thankful that I can bond with my kids through cooking together, while teaching them about healthy eating habits and sustainable living. When we enjoy the process together, I find so much more enjoyment in it. I find myself planning meals that we can make together, and I know that, when I’m stuck for an engaging activity, making muffins will always be met with a hearty yes!
So, if you are (like others) a bit wary of “helpers” in the kitchen. I’d like to encourage you. They are never too young (my one-year-old is right in there). They are surprisingly skilled (my son can pour, mix, measure (with help), fetch ingredients, mop up messes, select recipes (with pictures), and the list goes on). They love – brace yourself – making messes. But, sometimes, they also love to clean them up. (Another hearty yes in our house? Mopping. I save this one for when I really need to bring out the big guns). If you’re considering it, I’d suggest giving your own hearty yes to kids in the kitchen. After all, we all have to eat. So, we might as well enjoy it.
Today, we’re linking with Owlet Designs for Unschool Mondays. Enjoy!