Kindergarten Cooking: What Kids Learn
Cooking with five-year-olds can be daunting, with hot appliances, tons of directions to follow and rewards that are not always immediate – but the academic and social benefits of the experience far outweigh the hassle.
What You Need to Know
Helping in the kitchen allows children to learn and practice math, science, reading, and social skills.
- Motor skills and hand eye coordination from using food preparation utensils
- Hands on knowledge and understanding of scientific changes as water freezes and boils, nuts are ground to a fine powder, cakes become baked from batter
- Basic scientific principles from mixing ingredients and watching their creations change states
- Strengthened academic abilities involving identifying common words, doing lots of counting, and practicing measurement and math concepts like fractions and operations
- Food history and heritage through research and conversations about the dishes you're preparing
- Experimentation and creativity when making their own decisions about food to add their own personal touch
- Diversity and culture by exploring international recipes and discussing what life is like in the places those foods are eaten
- Defiance of gender stereotypes when boys pitch in as well
- Organization from preparing shopping lists, setting up spices so they're easy to find in the cupboard, combining ingredients in accordance with the recipe, organizing the workspace before getting started, devising a plan of action, and helping your child learn to break down large and small projects
How You Can Help
- Assign age and developmentally appropriate tasks – there's something for everyone. A five year old's task in making chicken pot pie and green beans can be using safety knives to slice veggies, and stirring flour and butter together.
- Let your child have some say in what meal you'll prepare. The more voice she's allowed, the more personal stake she has invested in the project's execution.
Be sure to experiment with new dishes, and not the same old meals week in and week out, to keep the experience new and the learning experiences fresh and varied.
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