For all those of you out there looking for proof that the kitchen is a good place for the kids here it is….
I’ve been focusing on different aims with My Toddler (MT) in the kitchen for some time now, with the intention of finally incorporating it into my recipes so that anyone interested in trying it out with their kiddies can do so.
Here is some science behind my madness…..
My Toddler Cooks
Hi my name is Laura and My Toddler Cooks! Big deal I hear you say, lots of toddlers cook. This is true; lots of toddlers cook and bake both at home and at school. The difference is that my toddler cooks with purposeful aims during each cookery session. My background is in education and I have always had a passion toward early education more specifically between the ages of 2-6years. Since becoming a mother, this interest has been taken to another level.
From the age of 2½ children (toddlers) go through sensitive periods. If we feed these sensitivities we are helping the child develop in these areas preparing them for the conscious period of learning. Other vital areas of child development are; independence, co-ordination, concentration, confidence and of course role-play. The kitchen can answer so many of these calls. In this post, I would like to give you a brief overview of exactly what I am talking about followed by a simple recipe detailing how your toddler/child can help out with purpose. Let’s start with the areas of sensitivity a toddler/child goes through and the ages that these happen:
- Language acquisition—from birth to around six years old
- Order—from around one to three years old
- Sensory refinement—from birth to around four years old
- Interest in small objects—from around 18 months to three years old
- Social behavior—from around two and a half to four years old
You can see that these sensitive periods start from birth and cease at six years old. From birth to three is known as the unconscious period, where the child learns and absorbs naturally like a sponge. From three to six it then becomes conscious and you will identify this with the word WHY?! The three year old wants to know the answers to all the world’s wonders.
Piaget believed that pretend play is a very important stage in child development and that children from birth to seven should be exposed to this in order to see someone else’s point of view and empathise. At around the age of three to four, children who have not had this opportunity will display what he called ego-centrism. Children who are involved in observing different tasks such as cooking will then go on to use this in their pretend play.
So now you ask how the kitchen and cooking can help your toddler/child. I’ll give you just two examples. By simply using the correct language associated with the task in hand and talking, you are opening your toddler/child up to an extensive vocabulary. You may think they are too young to understand while quietly they are soaking it all up. Ask your sous chef questions like, how am I going to get the rice from the bag into the bowl? It’s so simple for us and you may feel a bit silly but by them answering “a spoon”, and you complementing them on being right and good job, you are building both their confidence and independence. Now by counting the spoons of rice as you go, you are unconsciously teaching them numbers in a very concrete way because not only do they have the word for the number they can see the quantity and gain comprehension of it. This is now a huge focus in math’s curriculum’s across the world. OK, now let’s put what we’ve learned into practice.
I don’t know about you but it is sometimes a struggle in my house to get the 5 a day covered and especially hard to encourage a variety of fruit in my toddler’s (MT) diet. Of course this is completely normal to the growing toddler. So this morning we made Fruit Soup and it went down a treat. The fact that MT did the prep work with me; spooned the ingredients, helped me with the mixer, poured out soup into the bowl and placed that all important blackberry on top of the oats for design definitely added to the enjoyment of the final product.
Here’s what went into the soup:
4 large blackberries
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp. porridge oats
1 yogurt (I used a peach flavour)
Before you start anything, use the opportunity to count each ingredient. Ask your sous chef to help you ensure you have everything you need. Ask questions like “I need one banana, do we have one banana?” count with him/her to check. Complement them as they go.
We used our hand blender to mix it altogether and ate it with spoons! Yummy!
Here are some pictures of the jobs my sous chef did!! Fantastic for building the muscles required for good motor skills. It’s taken for granted that holding a pencil in school comes naturally, however, exercises are needed to prepare the children, most of which we do with them without realising!
Adding banana with a fork.
By moving in a left right direction from the plate to the container, we are teaching the child the direction we read. Where possible and when you remember, try and have them always work from left to right.
Spooning, taking lots of care.
Learning and perfecting the art of spooning ingredients will prepare your sous chef for feeding themselves without mess. This promotes confidence, independence and builds on those fine motor skills.
Using the pincer grip to add banana.
The pincer grip is the grip eventually used to hold a pencil, crayon, paintbrush in school.
Pouring from the processor into the jug.
This also promotes independence. Eventually MT can pour her own milk or juice. Independence is a very important part of child development.
I hope you found this informative and you have fun with your sous chef making “fruit soup”!! It always sounds better with a mysterious name!
My Toddler Cooks