Get your kids involved in an activity that takes place in your house everyday, and benefits the whole family: cooking! Cooking teaches kids about healthy eating, portions, ingredients, and stewardship, as they help to prepare meals for their parents and siblings. Summit’s mini chef program elicits a great deal of interest in young children, and parents can build upon the skills their kids are learning in daycare and preschool by cooking with their kids at home.
From zero to 18 months, you can:
- Set up a highchair or playpen and allow your child to watch you cook.
- Talk about what you’re doing as you’re doing it, to familiarize your child with each action.
- Provide your child with wooden spoons, spatulas, measuring cups, and plastic bowls, so that he can pretend to cook with you!
From 18 months to 3 years, your child can:
- Thoroughly rinse veggies and fruits.
- Tear leafy green veggies into small pieces for salads and other meals.
- Pour ingredients from measuring cups into bowls.
- Mash veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower.
- Sprinkle pre-measured seasonings, like salt and pepper and herbs and spices.
- Load the dishwasher with unbreakable items without sharp edges.
When they’re 4 and 5 years old, they can:
- Use a rolling pin to roll dough for pizza or bread.
- Squeeze lemons, limes, and oranges for juicing.
- Crack eggs into a bowl.
- Use a measuring cup to measure out ingredients, both dry and liquid.
- Whisk ingredients in a bowl.
- Set the table for dinner.
Because your children are naturally intrigued by the activities their parents perform daily, and love to copy your actions and eventually gain independence by doing tasks all by themselves, teaching them to cook at a young age will provide you with some much needed help in the kitchen as they get older. And since it promotes healthy eating and increased responsibility around the house, it builds character as well.