The kitchen can be a great classroom for your child. It provides ample opportunities to teach a variety of things from colors to counting, food groups and the importance of nutrition. In addition, involving your child in the kitchen will fill them with self-confidence as they feel joy and pride in really helping. Finally, incorporating your child in the preparation of the food that will be served significantly increases the likelihood they will be excited to eat it! Our favorite kitchen tool is The Original Learning Tower. We got the learning tower for Sage’s first Christmas, right before his first birthday. Now as Sage is on the verge of turning 3, we continue to use the learning tower daily and are consistently adding new skill sets to his culinary practice. We are incorporating Olive, 14 months, in the kitchen as well.
Where to Start?
Below are some suggested ways to incorporate your child as you prepare the family meals. Remember to never leave a child unattended in the kitchen, many of these tasks will require adult assistance.
12 – 24 months
- Kids will simply enjoy being raised counter height and observing what you are doing. At this age they fascinated just watching and will soon become great imitators.
- Washing their hands – in the learning tower they are able to reach the sink and wash their hands. It’s never too soon to start teaching healthy habits.
- Rinsing fruits and vegetables
- Smoothies! One of Sage’s first kitchen tasks was to help put all the smoothie ingredients into the blender. It is now one of Olive’s favorite things. We go over the food we put in, hypothesized over the color the final smoothie will turn and of course taste test many of the ingredients on their way into the blender. Depending how your child does with loud noise, they may also enjoy pushing the button to start the machine.
- Pizza! Children loving exploring textures and rolling out pizza dough is quite thrilling for them. They will also have fun putting on the toppings.
- Measuring out ingredients – measuring cups also double as stacking cups! It is provides the parents an opportunity to teach basic math, the concept of greater than and less than, plus kids just like dumping things from one container to another.
- Tear greens into pieces – let your kid hop on the kale train early!
- Chopping/cutting – Sage really likes to chop! But he is still too young to cut vegetables by himself so he loves asking if we can cut ‘together.’ But things he can cut by himself include toast and sandwiches.
- Peeling – peeling carrots and potatoes. The power of the peeler. This is also a great resource to keep them occupied while you prepare the rest of the meal. I will assign Sage the duty of peeling carrots and let him peel it until there is no carrot left. Momma just bought herself 15 minutes
- Whisking and mixing ingredients in a bowl – think cookies, pancakes, waffles, muffins
- Set and clear the table – Setting the table provides the child an opportunity to demonstrate responsibility as they carefully carry the plates to the table and put them in everyone’s spots. Sage always wants more things to put on the table so we start with plates, than silverware, followed by condiments and cups.
- Washing Dishes – teaching kids the full circle of cooking responsibilities early. Cooking isn’t all fun and mess but there is the element of cleaning up after. I’m just looking forward to the day when I don’t have rewash everything Sage washes
- Stirring items on the stove – This is parent judgement but if the child is supervised and aware of kitchen dangers like a hot stove you can try involving them with basic stirring at the stove. Think making oatmeal.
We have so much fun in the kitchen. While involving your little one may require a little extra clean-up the memories and skills they are learning are worth it. Please share how your little one helps you in the kitchen!
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