A couple of days ago, Facebook prompted me a memory from four years. And oh yes! How time flies…tempus fugit! It was a make-up day for a mom-daughter kitchen day. I believe in starting them young; and that, children helping in the kitchen does more good than harm.
I have written a past post about her kitchen activity. This was the post that reminded me is growing too fast.
How beneficial is having children help in the kitchen?
Honestly, it is not always beneficial to us adults. But, one thing i learned is that teaching and rearing children to independence is mostly at the expense of the adult’s convenience. It becomes a matter of keeping calm and letting the learning outweigh the mishaps and mistakes along the way.
Let me sum up the five benefits I have found in having children help in the kitchen:
(or at least the benefits it did my child)
1. Children eat what they prepare.
Every now and then, I ask my daughter to help me prepare the meal plan. Yes, I ask her to help me plan a meal. I ask her what she wants us to cook and eat. Just as it was in that facebook memory story. We set a date and a menu. She gets to pick the food, the ingredients and gets to help out in preparation. Viola! It always ends in a good note. She eats the food she prepares because she chose it in the first place. Yes, children helping in the kitchen generally eat what they prepare!
2. Children learn to be creative and resourceful.
The food idea children have may not always be typical. Sometimes, it can be a bit outrageous with crazy possible combinations. I let it be. I try to simply suggest a bit of a tweak into her imaginary food to somehow balance off and keep the flavor tasteful enough – and edible!
There was a phase she fancied the plentiful kamias fruit from the neighbor’s tree. She insisted to have kamias as a staple ingredient to most food we prepared. Sometimes, the combination seems a it odd. We welcomed it anyway and told her it will be a bit of kitchen experiment. WE showed her the more normal ways to using kamias in viands. She imagined more unusual ways. So, that phase had us cooking pork, chicken, sausages, soups and fish. Our extended family, she fondly called Tita Esmer prepared kamias shake for us too.
Children helping in the kitchen get to play up their creative juices. Creativity and resourcefulness, she can think outside the box!
3. Children learn to adapt and be flexible.
That kitchen work in the memory could be a “cookfest fail”. The main ingredient we wanted – chicken was sold out. She opted for the kid-tested, ultimate kid approved hotdog franks!
On the surface that could be trivial. On a second look at it, it is a good lesson to say that not everything we plan turn out right. If they don’t, the world doesn’t end. We think of other options. We adapt to whatever reality we have and learn to compromise with it. Children helping in the kitchen learn to adapt to situations at hand and be flexible.
4. Children become more organized in their thoughts and ideas.
Working in the kitchen entails planning. We do a market list, think of what we want to do and what we need for it. The task is organized in sequence. Needless to say, children who help in the kitchen get to go through the sequential planning and laying out of their ideas. It gives a picture of an end in mind. It make them think of ways to get to that end in mind. And I have to say, this is a good skill to learn. It consequentially leads to learning the concept of goals and goal-setting.
5. Children learn a life-skill.
Oh yes! Children helping out in the kitchen definitely learn a life-skill. The skill of meal preparation and cooking. In the field of special education, we refer to these as ADL (Activities of Daily Living). It is a very important part of IEP (Individualized Education Plan). We all know for a fact that our children will not be under our wings forever. They will not always have us around. We all envision our child to be capable of independent living. And kitchen work is a big core of everyone’s life.
So, again, how beneficial is having children help in the kitchen exactly?
In my book, A LOT!!! I could let all the hassle it costs me drain me for a few minutes and hours in exchange for a lifelong guarantee that my daughter will grow up pretty well. And yes, time flies so fast. She was just a little munchkin bugging me once not long ago. Now, most often, I do the bugging her.