Children's Development

5 Ways to Get Little Ones Involved in the Kitchen

When you think about incorporating teachable moments into a child’s everyday life, look no further than the kitchen! Cooking is an amazingly rich sensory experience that can double as hands on skill practice.

Here are 5 developmental benefits of kids helping in the kitchen:

1. Introduce scientific concepts to encourage critical thinking.

Youngsters can notice how mixing different ingredients together is like a science experiment! Discuss how heat causes reactions in cooking.  Solve problems creatively by brainstorming solutions, such as how to replace a missing ingredient.

2. Encourage mathematical thinking.

Count out ingredients like eggs or tomatoes. Use fractions when filling measuring cups. Learn to covert measurements by pouring cups into pints, quarts, and gallons.

3. Teach responsibility.

Instruct proper food handling, kitchen safety, and clean up procedures.  Learning to prepare meals allows little ones to feel like helpful members of the family.

4. Reinforce literacy skills by having a little helper read the recipe.

Cooking has many built in opportunities to encourage literacy. Ask kids to draw or write the ingredient list for the grocery store.

5. Practice fine motor skills to improve hand strength and dexterity.

Children can use a scoop, stir, mash, or tear pieces. Use kitchen tools like measuring spoons, cookie cutters, and rolling pins.

Is there a recipe have you been meaning to try? Ask a little one to be your kitchen helper and get cooking!

Stephanie Standley M. Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Psychology as well as a Master of Education-Literacy from the University of San Diego. Stephanie has 12+ years of classroom experience as a teacher and currently supports students in Special Education. She is inspired to use evidence-based practices to educate children in creative and engaging ways.