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Involving Children in the Kitchen

group of kids making pizzas with teacher

Parents – are you still deciding what to make for dinner tonight? Today is a great day to put your kids in charge of cooking! …Or at least part of the cooking. September 13th is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day!

What is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day?

National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day is celebrated every year on September 13th. This national holiday was originally started by the Young Chefs Academy in hopes to encourage and inspire children to grow their love of cooking, baking, and all things food. It is a special day to allow your children to learn not only helpful culinary skills, but also valuable life skills, while enjoying time with family. Although this holiday is recognized on September 13th, your kids can take over the kitchen any day of the year! So, next time you’re in need of a kitchen helper, ask your child for some help, and you may find that the meal prep experience just got a whole lot better!

Why is Involving Your Child in the Kitchen Important?

While cooking with your child can require more time, energy, and patience, cooking is so much more rewarding when you involve your kids. Cooking and baking with your child will teach them a wide variety of different skills. From culinary skills to cognitive development to life skills, including your children in the kitchen will be a learning rich experience that could potentially spark a new hobby!

Life Skills

Cooking can teach children a variety of valuable life skills. For example, your child will learn about the importance of teamwork as you work together preparing a meal. Your child will learn the importance of following instructions as you follow each step throughout a recipe. Your child will learn the importance of patience as it takes time to prepare a meal.

As you cook with your child, they will also be able to practice good hygiene by making sure to wash their hands before touching food. You can talk to them about the importance of cleaning up after yourself as you wipe up messes and put away dishes.

Cognitive Development

Teaching your children about cooking can also help boost their cognitive development and learning. For example, language development will come naturally as you introduce your child to new vocabulary as you talk about food, nutrition, cooking utensils, etc.

Your child will also be able to develop their fine motor skills as they help you with tasks such as mixing, measuring, and using other kitchen tools.

Math and science also come into play as you’re preparing meals with your child. Your child will learn math skills such as counting, measuring, and sequencing as you’re adding ingredients. Your child will learn science skills as you talk to them about how food changes as you cook. For example, talk to them about what’s happening as you’re boiling water, cooking noodles, melting butter, etc.

Health & Nutrition

Healthy eating is so important for proper growth and development. As you cook with your child, teach them about the importance of nutrition. Involve your child in meals when using healthy ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you teach these healthy eating habits from a young age, your children will develop these healthy habits sooner and be more likely to continue them as they grow older.

Culinary Skills

Some of the more obvious skills children will learn in the kitchen are culinary skills. Your child will naturally become more familiar with cooking and baking as you work with them in the kitchen. As you ease your child into the kitchen, they will become familiar with cooking vocabulary, cooking tips, cooking utensils, and more. And who knows, maybe one day your child will be the next top chef!

10 Ways to Involve Your Children in the Kitchen

  1. Choosing Recipes – Let your child help you pick out recipes. Choose a couple different healthy recipes beforehand, and then ask them which one they would prefer to make. You can also encourage your child to look through cookbooks or recipe cards to find a meal on their own. If a child feels like they had a hand in the decision, they will be more likely to enjoy eating the meal.
  2. Grocery Shopping – Take your child grocery shopping. Allow your child to help find items you need for the recipe you picked out. As you find the food items, ask your child to cross the items off your grocery list.
  3. Observation – Allow your child to watch you cook and encourage them to ask questions in the kitchen. As you are preparing food, explain what you are doing and why.
  4. Rinsing – As you are preparing a meal, ask your child to rinse items such as fruits and vegetables in the sink. Talk to them about the importance of making sure your food is clean before you eat it. You can also turn rinsing into a sensory experience as you ask your child to describe textures, colors, and smells as they are handling the food.
  5. Helping Hand – Have your child hand you ingredients as you cook. Ask your child if they can name the different foods as they hand them to you. If you are asking your child to hand you more than one of the same item, have them count the number of items as they give them to you.
  6. Measuring – Measuring ingredients is a great way to teach children about math and numbers. Help guide them to the correct size measuring tools and let them pour the ingredients into the correct sized portions. Talk to younger children about counting and older children about fractions as you measure.
  7. Mixing – After all the needed ingredients are in a mixing bowl, encourage your child to help mix the ingredients together. This is a great fine motor activity for children. Talk to them about different stirring utensils such as spoons, whisks, and spatulas.
  8. Using Tools and Utensils – Give your child their own tools and utensils that they can use while they prepare food. If you happen to have an old or extra set, this is a great way to help children feel independent. Make sure these utensils are kid-friendly of course. Stay away from sharp objects. Try giving your child tools such as their own apron, mixing spoons, or measuring cups.
  9. Setting the Table – Encourage your child to help set the table before your family sits down for a meal. Teach older children the proper etiquette of table setting, explaining where each piece of silverware goes on the table.
  10. Cleaning Up – After you prepare and enjoy your family meal, have your child help you with the clean-up process. Not only is this a kitchen skill, but life skill!

Favorite Kid-Friendly Recipes to Try With Your Family

At New Horizon Academy, we offer a variety of recipes that your whole family can enjoy. Here are a few of our family-favorite recipes that you can make with your child:

Breakfast Recipes

  1. Olympic Ring Bagels
  2. Cottage Cheese Protein Pancakes
  3. Ham and Cheese Egg Muffins
  4. Teddy Bear Toast

Snack Recipes

  1. Sunny Sushi Roll Snack
  2. Fruit Pizza Crackers
  3. No-Bake Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Energy Balls
  4. Frozen Banana Yogurt Popsicles

Lunch & Dinner Recipes

  1. Healthy Pizza
  2. Tacos
  3. Homemade Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Dessert Recipes

  1. Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  2. Ice Cream in a Bag
  3. Yogurt Smoothie Pops
  4. Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

*All recipes can be found under our blog’s Kid’s Cuisine category.

We hope you and your family are able to enjoy National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day. However, no matter the day, introducing your child to cooking can be a fun learning experience for the whole family. Take cooking as an opportunity to learn new skills, try new recipes, and enjoy some great company! Happy National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day!

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