What if, you put a bag of green beans or some boiled potatoes in front of you kiddo, place a small cutting board and a plastic pizza cutter or knife next to it? What will the next step and from whose side? Obviously, your little chef..:) The chef will pull over his/her small stool and climb up.
Something similar happened to me, (I guess when my daughter was 3 ½ or 4 years old), on a sunny and warm late afternoon when I was planning to start preparation for our dinner. I planned to make Okra sabzi (bhindi ki sabzi). Like some odd days, my daughter was neither in a mood of playing with her toys nor did she want to watch cartoon. She just wanted me to be around and I was shunting between our kitchen and living area. So, I asked her if she would like to help me. Help mommy…wow!! This sounds like a better option. I asked her to wash the okra and gave her the strainer (saved 2-3 okras for our craft activity). She got her small stool, and climbed up. Rest is history. She washed all the okras, dried them nicely with the towel. At the dinner table she was so happy telling her own okra story. Need not to mention, that day she enjoyed eating the vegetable more than she ever had. She was so happy and satisfied for helping me that has made the sabzi tasting so good..:) Kids really want to eat and share food they help make.
I am sharing with you some of my experiences whenever I let my daughter help me:
- It improves their listening skills: When you allow your kid to help they are very happy. It gives them a sense of involvement. They will listen very carefully. Following the exact recipe is a good way to reinforce the importance of following directions otherwise you will not get the favorable result. But sometimes they get so excited that they want to finish up quickly and see the final product….:) That’s quite natural. Isn’t? That allows moving to the next point-
- Learning patience: Yes, being patient to see the result may not sound as an interesting idea to the kids. When you are baking your kid’s favorite cake and it takes say 1 hour to get ready, you can tell your kid that if we take it out before time then it will be half done and will not taste good; don’t you want to get the good result of your efforts?.
- Math and Science comes into existence: They say that the cause-and-effect of abstract principals becomes stronger when the kid actually experiences the results. When my daughter was a preschooler, they made Potato-Corn-Carrot Soup at school. Each kid had to get one ingredient, and they mixed it there and had it during lunch time. When we started with numbers, I would ask her to measure chocolate chips or pass me the 1 cup measure. Then we would count the number of ingredients that we used in the recipe. Same way, they get to know the power of heat when they see the balls of wet batter transforms into crispy cookies. Yumm!!
- Cultural connection: Our daughter knows Chapati/Naan-Daal-Sabzi-Chawal (Flatbread-Lentil-Curry-Rice) is associated to Indian cooking. When you are making Mexican burritos, the word itself is self-explanatory. At school they eat together. We can teach our kids to respect every culture and their cuisine.
“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.”- Guy Fieri
What about you? What are some of your favorite memories about cooking with your kiddo? Do share it in the comments below. I would love to hear about it!