Kids in the Kitchen: Ways to Foster Independence
The kitchen probably has to be one of the most favorite places for children to play – but they can also learn a lot, too! It is a natural place for young children to take steps toward independence in concrete, fun, and creative ways. By providing a few items within their grasp and reviewing safety, you are setting them up for success!
Every child has a huge capability of learning and they can surprise us a lot if we just trust and allow them to be independent. Preparing food helps develop confidence and independence as children see that they can make food for themselves.
Ok, so what do I need to do first?
Step 1: Provide a step stool in the kitchen. Why? This allows the child to reach the counter and help with preparing meals. Stools can vary in type and price. I just use a simple folding stool.
Step 2: Set aside a space to provide snacks, dishes, cups, and kid-safe utensils within their reach. Depending on the drawer/cabinet size, you can find clear plastic bins like these for less than $1 to organize the space. Why? Modeling organizational skills, as well as reading recipes, shows how things must be kept and done in a certain order for the meal to be successful. Sequencing is an important skill at this age level. This helps children know and explain what comes next. Providing a child-safe space eliminates a step for you and gives your child the power to choose, which eliminates some frustration. Win, win!
Step 3: Go over kitchen safety. Talk with your child about what is safe to touch, how to keep clean, and show them their designated spaces. Why? This will eliminate potential safely hazards and allow you all to enjoy the experiences.
Great! Now, share some recipes!
Trail Mix - The options are endless here, but do be mindful of allergies and choking hazards for toddlers.
Fruit Salad (Yummy, Yummy) - This is a great opportunity to use fresh, local fruits in season during the summer months! Modify as you wish!
You can start out by making small portions in reusable containers. Add these to your child’s designated spaces and they have a quick and healthy go-to snack. Delish! Take the time to prepare the fruit snacks and you are more likely to eat these healthy options!
Pizza – Get creative with your pizzas! FYI, this is a great opportunity to use that fresh basil you've been growing. 👍
Picky eater? Have your child pick a recipe! Get out the trusty cookbook or go online and have your child choose something that looks good to them. This can encourage trying new foods. Remind them that they chose the recipe so they can try the recipe.
Most importantly, have fun!