Cooking with Preschoolers
Cooking can help young kids learn and practice some basic math concepts and build language skills. And the experience of creating meals with you can help build their self-confidence and lay the foundation for healthy eating habits.
It may take a little flexibility and some simple prep work, but with the right expectations, your time in the kitchen with your preschooler can be a culinary adventure you'll both enjoy.
How Cooking Can Help Preschoolers
Bringing kids into the kitchen can benefit them in a number of ways. Cooking can help:
- Build basic skills. You can help your child hone basic math skills by doing something as simple as counting eggs or pouring water into a measuring cup. You can ask what comes first, second, and third or count together as you spoon dough onto a cookie sheet. When you read a recipe together, you're introducing new words to your child's vocabulary and promoting literacy. Following steps in the recipe can work on listening skills.
- Encourage an adventurous palate. Preschoolers are notoriously picky eaters, and bringing them into the kitchen to cook can help get them to open up to new tastes. When your 3-year-old daughter plays chef she might sample dishes she wouldn't try if you just served them to her. So encourage kids to taste new ingredients you're working with and talk about what they like and how healthy foods make a body grow.
- Help young kids explore with their senses. Kids learn by exploring with their senses and the kitchen is an ideal place to do that. Invite them to listen to the whir of the mixer, pound dough and watch it rise, smell it baking in the oven, and finally taste the warm bread fresh from the oven. If it smells good, looks appealing, and is easy to eat they may just be willing to try it!
- Boost confidence. Preschoolers love to show what they can do and working in the kitchen provides opportunities to gain a sense of accomplishment. If they helped assemble the pizza, let them know that their help was important. You could name the pizza or another dish after your child. Serve "Will's Pizza" or "Ella's Salad" for dinner tonight. Even if the end results are not exactly what you expected, praise their efforts.
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