Kitchen Wisdom
Recipes for Success
By Joan O’Donnell, M.Ed.

In today’s fast paced world, the family kitchen is sometimes little more than a pit stop – a place to grab a quick bite to eat on the way out the door.  Families on the go rarely spend any quality time in the kitchen.  For our young children, this amounts to countless missed opportunities for learning and building meaningful connections to the world around them.  
The kitchen is one of the best classrooms in the world, yet it is often overlooked.    Did you know that almost all of your child’s school readiness skills can be practiced and developed right at home in the kitchen?  Imagine the possibilities.  

Try this.  Take out a favorite family recipe.  Read it to your child.  Talk about where the recipe came from and the history behind it.  Did your own parents or grandparents make this very same recipe?  Share with your child how this recipe is part of his or her culture.  If you don’t have a family recipe look through some cookbooks or go online and find a new recipe to try together.  Or you can be creative and invent your own special family recipe.  Next, gather the ingredients.  Ask your child to help count the ingredients and sort them by color, size, textures or food group.  Is it a fruit, vegetable or meat?  Name the ingredients and kitchen tools you’re working with to introduce new vocabulary.   Allow your child to practice measuring, mixing and pouring.  Children are naturally curious.  Give your child time explore their senses.  How do the foods look, smell, sound, feel and taste?  Are they sweet or salty, crunchy or soft, dry or wet? Do they make sounds when you taste them?  Talk about how all the different ingredients come together in one dish to create something new and wonderful. 




While the dish is cooking, have your child help with clean up in the kitchen.  Make a game out of it.  Use the new vocabulary and ask him to find the measuring cup or the whisk to put in the sink or to pick up three things to put in the trash.  Talk about the how good the food is starting to smell as it’s cooking.   Later, when it’s time to eat ask your child to talk about the recipe and tell the rest of the family about how it was made.  He will be so proud to see everyone enjoying his creation.  

So what actually happened in the kitchen beside you and your child making a delicious dish and enjoying some time together?  Your child practiced reading and language skills by looking through cookbooks and having you read the recipes to her.  She also had a chance to develop her listening and language skills by talking with you about the ingredients, the process of preparing and serving the meal, and the family history of the recipe.  A math lesson occurred when your child counted, sorted, and measured the ingredients.   Science experiments allowed her to explore her senses.  By actively engaging in the activity, following directions and working together, your child developed additional social and emotional skills.  All of these skills are important in getting your child ready for school.     

What a wonderful way to learn.  And it all took place in the family kitchen.

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