Everything you do with a child is an opportunity to teach something new. You take advantage of routine events as they occur and use them as teaching tools. All children have their own interests which can be the starting point for learning of many kinds. This is motivation that comes from within them rather than what we impose from the outside. It sets the stage for success and the fun that comes from doing what you love.
A great example of this is cooking. Below we’ve listed some of the possibilities for learning during a cooking-based activity.
- You can encourage communication development by working together to name what you are chopping, mixing or mashing.
- You can encourage fine motor development by asking the child to open and close, pick up and carry items, and asking the child to use the tips of their fingers to pick up small things, to scoop and to stir.
- You can teach the basics of mathematics as you work together to measure, count and compare amounts and sizes of ingredients. As you’re doing this, you can introduce more communication skills by having the child you’re working with begin to learn words such as more, less, half and whole.
- You can teach vocabulary expansion by having the child begin to identity and name pictures on various ingredient packages.
- You can work on sequencing by having the child start to follow the step-by-step instructions in a recipe and by having the child put the ingredients in an ordered line on your counter space.
- You can work on developing directions skills by explaining the importance of following directions, and safety concerns. You can introduce this concept by explaining the difference between hot and cold items, and by explaining the textures of kitchen utensils.
- You can work on developing creativity and imagination by having the child present the finished project in an artistic way. Some examples of how to do this are to have the child sing a song about food, paint the food their favorite color, or cut the food out in the child’s favorite shape.
We hope this introduction to the various skill sets that cooking teaches will help you to recognize all of the teaching that you already do throughout your day. We also hope that you feel inspired to find more times and ways to learn together with your little one.