By: Carolyn Beeman
Many parents are looking for ways to spend a little extra time with their kids, but it can be very hard. We are so busy between our daily commute, work, sports, shopping, and life in general, where can we find that extra time? In the kitchen, that’s where! It is a great way to spend time with your child and since adults spend so much of their time in the kitchen, why not start there. Children are curious and want to feel important, so we should try to include them in as many things as possible. Getting kids in the kitchen will not only teach them an important life skill, it will also help them learn valuable math, reading and science skills. And remember, the more we include children as helpers now, the more likely they will continue to be helpers as they grow older.
How does cooking with kids involve math you ask – measuring of course. Measuring cups and spoons are great counting tools. Use pre-measured ingredients for children who are too young to hold the cup and scoop on their own. Count the cups or spoons as you pour them into the bowl. Counting 16 table spoons is the same as 1 cup. So, take your 16 tablespoons and put them in one bowl, now take your cup and put it into a separate bowl. Do they look the same? Have they made the same size tower, how about weight, do they feel like they weigh the same? Teach fractions. Half of 16 is 8, that’s the same as ½ cup, do your height/weight experiment again. That’s math. And then there is science. How is cooking anything like science? Science is understanding the behavior of things through observation and experiment. Cooking and baking are some of the first interactions we have with science. When you mix your ingredients, what happens to them? If you have two different colored powders in your bowl, what color will they turn? If you mix a liquid with your powder, what will happen? Those are all examples of science in the kitchen.
All of these examples are open ended questions that you can use to initiate conversation with your child. Asking an open ended question leaves room for a lot more answers, thus meaning you will be spending a lot more time with your child then if you had just said “dinner is ready”. So, if you want to spend more time with your child but you simply cannot figure out where that time is going to come from, take them into the kitchen with you. And remember, the more involved a child is in the food making process, the more likely they are to actually try the food.