Teaching valuable skills in the kitchen | SummitDaily.com

Teaching valuable skills in the kitchen

Helen and Martin Weiss

Summer is coming, and this is the chance to enjoy stay-at-home activities with your kids. Unfortunately, many of us run on a summer treadmill to keep our kids busy. Kids tend to be overbooked, and families suffer from overpressure and stress. Everyone needs to go in a different direction and families don’t spend a lot of time together.

At home, the kitchen is a great place to be a family and teach many skills. Kids need to feel they are part of a family and that they make an important contribution to the well- being of that family.

Years ago we conducted a survey at a local high school, asking students what they felt was the most important job that they did at home. Ninety percent of the students said that their most important contribution was to take out the garbage! Do we want our kids to hold memories of taking out the trash as their peak family experience?

As important as taking out the garbage is, it is not the most creative job in the family. Perhaps there are some other chores to engage in.

Cooking with kids of all ages can be a challenge, but produces such exciting results.

Young kids love to learn through cooking. Activities such as using a cookie cutter to shape cookies or a rolling pin to roll out dough teach form perception and coordination. Peeling an apple or a potato or beating cake dough with an eggbeater teach eye-hand coordination. Following a recipe teaches reading, focusing attention, sequencing steps and patience. The disorganized child with poor gross motor skills is so clumsy that pouring fluid, stirring or slicing ingredients makes a mess, and this kind of child is bypassed when it comes to these tasks. These are the kids who need to do those fine motor training tasks more than others.

Some of the following cooking tasks are basic skills necessary for good learning.

– Assembling the ingredients teaches a child to plan ahead. Gathering the cooking and mixing tools in advance also requires planning.

– Opening the cans or boxes that will be needed requires use of a can opener and boxed ingredients.

– Learning to grease a pan, turning a stove or oven on a low light helps to teach the importance of safety.

– Math can be learned when a child measures out the ingredients by spoon or measuring cups. Adding them to the mix in proper sequence teaches an important skill as well.

– Even telling time and timing the baking or cooking teaches both patience and reading a digital or analog clock.

– An awareness of fractions enters the picture when the child cuts the finished cake or cookies into pieces the size of quarters, halves, eighths, tenths, etc.

– Most important, “sharing” one’s precious product with others reinforces pride and an awareness of this fine accomplishment.

While younger children can master basic skills working in the kitchen, older ones can also be made aware of some of the basic laws of science when working there as well. Observing the droplets on the lid of a pot with boiling liquid demonstrates evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Interesting facts about soluble substances that can be dissolved in water can be demonstrated.Creating mixtures, compounds and chemical compounds are all basic to cooking. Using the vocabulary of chemistry or demonstrating simple concepts lay the groundwork for future understanding of basic reading, math and science. Cooking with kids can be a productive, creative and satisfying family affair. But most of all it is fun!

For further information contact: Helen Ginandes Weiss M.A & Martin S. Weiss M.A. Learning Consultants: e-mail: eduworks@chaffee.net. P.O. Box 38, Twin Lakes, Co. 81251: (719) 486-5800.

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