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Early Childhood Occupational Therapist's Tips On Getting Kids Involved With Cooking

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Boy Baking

Let’s be honest, it might be easier to pop the kids in front of the TV and make dinner yourself because sometimes those little helper hands are, in fact, not helpful at all.

I mean, one of the biggest patience testers is watching a child stir a batter at the same speed molasses runs uphill. It is important to be patient, tolerant, and actually encourage you kids or grandkids to join you in the kitchen.

Before we started Sunrise Flour Mill, I was an early childhood special education teacher. I was so fortunate to work for many years with the best team I could have imagined. Our occupational therapist, Kathy Teegarden, is one of the smartest women I know so I asked her for some input on this topic and her thoughts are embedded here. She has twin grandsons with whom she bakes and she has found that there are limitless educational possibilities that are easy to do with materials that are readily available in her home.

Remember when baking with kids:

It’s the process not the product.

Choose age appropriate recipes.

Failures are educational opportunities. Don’t seek perfection.

They learn by using all their senses so they probably will want to taste and smell everything.

They have short attention spans so keep each session short. They may do only part of the project but appreciate every effort they put in.

Girl Baking

Why you should bake with your kids:

Quality time: in this busy, fast pace world, it is easy to forget to set aside time to simply be with one another. No phones, no TV, just you and your little pal Some of the best conversations come from shared time working on an activity.

Following directions: using the recipe as a set of instructions can help kids learn how to follow a process from beginning to end

Culinary skill development: There are so many opportunities for learning in the kitchen. If your child is old enough, challenge them to double a recipe or cut it in half. Test out new spices to see which ones pair nicely with each other Help them develop skills in the kitchen that they can carry with them their entire lives.

Get them away from technology: need I explain…

Boost their confidence: “Natalie made supper tonight!” Letting a child know their effort and hard work is appreciated can help lift their spirits They can take ownership of the end result and feel proud of their accomplishment. Plus eat it too! If you have a picky eater, having them participate in the preparation is one of the best ways to encourage eating new foods.

Motor skills: stirring, opening containers, pouring, learning to sequence actions.

Math: weighing, measuring, halving or doubling a recipe

Literacy: learning new words, comparing labels to the recipe, reading the recipe.

Social skills: taking turns, sharing

Above all else: Keep it fun for both you and your helper.

Have fun!

All for now,

Sunrise Flour Mill

North Branch, MN


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