• Staci Hemesath, RDN, LD

The Tastiest Place to Learn


For many of our readers, the education of young children has always been part of your job description. However, who has suddenly taken on the care of more school agers and found yourselves juggling the needs of babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary students? If you're a parent, you may be trying to work a full or part-time job from home AND homeschool your children. All of this under the cloud of anxiety and uncertainty during an unprecedented global pandemic. It's overwhelming. No doubt about it.


But, guess what? There is a common denominator among us. We ALL have to eat and more than ever, we're doing so in homes instead of restaurants and cafeterias. How do we make the task of educating and nourishing children (and ourselves) as efficient as possible?


Cook WITH children. There it is. Problem solved!! Cooking is a wonderful way to integrate math, science, and literacy into an activity you have to do everyday. It also checks off many early learning standard boxes. Social-emotional, motor development, physical development, and social studies to name a few. Cooking with children also has the bonus side benefit of encouraging healthier and more adventurous eating, with potential for positive lifelong impact.


Math

  • Comparison and Measurement

  • Sequencing and patterns

  • Changing quantities (addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions)

  • Weight and cooking time

  • Shapes of food and equipment used

Science

  • Basic nutrition lessons about food groups and how food reacts in our bodies

  • Cause and effect

  • Making predictions

  • Experimenting

  • Learning how food changes while cooking or cooling (texture, color, smell, size)

  • Working with the five senses

Literacy

  • Reading recipes

  • Learning new vocabulary words (food, kitchen tools, cooking methods, measurement, temperature)

  • Writing a shopping list or menu

  • Sequencing skills while following directions

Social Emotional Skills

  • Building confidence and self-esteem

  • Development of problem solving skills

  • Taking turns and working together with others

  • Patience

Physical Well Being and Motor Development

  • Learning about impact of nutrition and health

  • Pouring, stirring, measuring, spreading, squeezing, kneading and rolling dough, slicing, flipping or turning

Social Studies

  • Cultural eating patterns

  • Learning where food comes from (gardens, farms, factories, delivery drivers, grocery stores)

  • Geography lessons

  • Contribution to needs of family/Understanding importance of cooking in household or group childcare setting

When working with multiple age levels, be sure to delegate tasks appropriate to ability. For instance, have the older children read the recipe, then have them work in teams to prep and measure ingredients, then take turns pouring, stirring, or assembling. Involve everyone in setting and cleaning up work areas and dining surfaces. Review math concepts, vocabulary words, and science lessons while cooking. Talk about the project afterward to reinforce learning. Also, always be sure to have age-appropriate tools to maximize both safety and confidence and implement strict food safety and sanitation practices.


Bon Appetit! 😋