How to Make Kitchen Time Fun with Kids
Updated: Jul 30
The holiday season is upon us! And while most retailers would like you to skip right over to Christmas, Hanukkah and other end of year celebrations, we do have a big week ahead of us before we close out November.
Halloween has come and gone. And Thanksgiving is less than a week away (and yet my fall decor is still sitting in a pile on my coffee table!). Schools around the country will be taking a short holiday next week, a full week off in some communities.
Research shows a majority of families feel stressed celebrating the holidays. But let’s face it, as parents we have enough stress in our lives right now. So, let’s not add to it over the holidays. We all need some time to unwind and enjoy some unscheduled, quality time with our kids.
And what better place to do that than the kitchen?!
What Kids Can Learn in the Kitchen
Getting your kids active in the kitchen is a great way for them to be creative, learn some basic life skills (e.g. dish soap does not go in the dishwasher) and how to deal with failure (many recipes gone wrong in our house).
The kitchen is great for all ages. Young children can help prepare a meal, older kids can learn to cook some basic recipes, and by the time they are teens, you can help them master their favorite dinners before they head off to college or their next adventure away from home.
There’s also an added bonus of getting your kids active in the kitchen - it reinforces the foundational skills like reading and math they are learning in school.
Work on basic reading skills by encouraging your kids to read the recipes and labels on ingredients out loud to you.
Add comprehension, vocabulary and storytelling by asking them how they think things will taste and smell, or find unique ways to describe what you are making.
Improve math skills with basic number recognition, learning about fractions, weights and measurements. Try doubling a recipe for another challenge.
Practice telling time and tracking time for the various stages of your recipes.
Work on fine motor skills by letting your child pour, cut and mix. There’s a variety of age appropriate cooking tools on the market.
How to Make Kitchen Time Fun with Kids
Learning to cook is a basic skill, and personally I wish I was better at it! As a busy parent, it is so easy to get stuck in a rut, cooking the same meals each week. The holidays are the perfect time to experiment and broaden your meal options. Try a couple new dishes and desserts. Encourage your kids to make suggestions and help prepare something new.
Make it Fun for Everyone
Turn the music on, pour yourself a favorite beverage, and just slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your meal. Don’t stress about the mess, it’s inevitable. Turn frustration into creative problem solving opportunities (sometimes easier said than done) and help your kids recognize that perfecting your favorite meal takes practice! Here’s 6 tips to help you relax in the kitchen.
Listen and Talk
If your kids are helping you out in the kitchen, take this opportunity to have a quality conversation with them. Put your phone,tablet and other devices away, and just listen and talk. Beyond the “how was your day” question, ask them about their friends, teachers, favorite projects and other interests. Here’s a couple conversation starters.
Teach Life Skills
There’s no shortage of opportunities to teach some basic life skills in the kitchen. Understanding food groups, ingredients and how to prepare a few basic meals will help kids be better equipped to manage their own health and nutrition as they grow older.
Join the Discussion
The kitchen is often called the heart of your home. Its role goes far beyond a place to cook and enjoy food with family and friends. Today’s kitchens serve many purposes including being the center for intense battles on family game nights, serving as a gallery of your child’s artwork, and printouts (or digital frames) of favorite photos and memories with friends. There’s a reason we all congregate in the kitchen - it brings us joy.
Have a favorite recipe or funny cooking story you’d like to share with our parent community?
About the Author
Jennifer Larson is an entrepreneur, charter school founder and mother to four children. Connect with her @startupjen.