Are you staying home for Spring Break and looking for something to do with your children? Look no further than your kitchen and dining room! One of the best ways to spend time as a family is through cooking together. Everyone can pitch in, and you end up with a delicious meal.
Even though you may have a lot of little hands in the mix, your time with them in the kitchen can prove to be invaluable in the long run. In fact, according to a study from the folks at Rutgers University, “involving kids in family meals helps to foster family togetherness, prevents behavior problems, and leads to better results for children in school.”
That being said, here are a few things you can do when you’re making dinner so your kids can gain important life skills.
- Read the recipes out loud
Reading is one of the most important skills that any child can acquire. When you read the recipes out loud, your kids are able to gain what Andrea at CraftingConnections.net calls a “basic literacy foundation.” Not only will your kids be able to follow your eyes and see that words are read from left to right, top to bottom, but hearing different ingredients read out loud will enhance their quickly growing vocabulary.
If your child has already learned to read, having them vocalize what’s on the recipe card will expose him or her to a writing format that they’ve probably never seen before. Being able to read a wide range of writing will help kids gain the ability to make sense of what’s written down, no matter the formatting.
- Share the measuring and pouring duties
Behind licking the spoon after putting the cookies in the oven as kids’ favorite part of baking is measuring out the ingredients and dumping them in the bowl. Kids love being able to help out with the preparation of the cooking process, and incidentally, it’s a great time to teach them how to work with fractions.
Teaching your kids about fractions may take some time and a lot of patience, but when they start cooking for their own families, they’ll thank you when they don’t have to pull out their phone every time they need a cup and a half of flour and the extra large Pyrex measuring cup is covered in oil.
- Let your little one help out from start to finish
Cooking up a tasty meal can instill a great sense of accomplishment in your little people. Many kids see big recipes as jigsaw puzzles — each ingredient and each measurement being a different piece to the overall structure. Even if your child is super little and is still learning how to measure and pour, you can still have them help you gather the ingredients or turn the timer off once your meal is cooked and ready to eat.
When they’re able to eat something that they helped make, they are able to take pride in their work and feel a sense of satisfaction in what they created (even if you did everything except throwing away the potato peels and opening up the oven).
- Teach and practice table manners
The fun and learning doesn’t stop once the food has left the oven and made its way to the table. During the meal itself, you have chance to teach your child basic table manners, like not chewing with their mouth open, not speaking when their mouth is full of food and saying “please” and “thank you.” Not playing with cell phones or gaming devices.
Social norms and politeness are invaluable when your children start to associate with people other than their immediate family members. All in all, children will find the most success by how well they treat other people and how well they interact with people on a social level.
- Demonstrate gratitude
It can take a lot of time and effort to cook a meal, so the least that people can do is thank whoever it prepared it. By having your child help you with all aspects of a family meal, they will be able to better appreciate the work that goes into feeding a family. Praise your child for what they were able to contribute so they will understand the importance of gratitude for those who take the time to cook for them.
It’s amazing how much we can learn from cooking together and spending time around the dinner table together. For those days when preparing a home-cooked meal isn’t going to happen, join us for a made-from-scratch meal at your local Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.