As a parent, I am always looking for activities that interest Mario. Trust me, nothing is worse than a bored toddler. That is why I encourage him to help me with all the daily tasks including cooking. True, having a toddler help cook does add a bit to prep time and clean up but it is a toss up to listening to him whine the entire time I am preparing dinner. Actually, the pros to having your children help you cook far outweigh the cons.
In our house, we use cooking as a great way to learn. At 20 months old, Mario is not julienning carrots but he is great at pouring, stirring, salad spinning and tasting. I find that if he helps prepare a dish and taste components while we cook that he is more likely to eat it at mealtime. It also teaches patience which most toddlers have very little of, if any. He has to wait while we put everything together and it cooks before he gets to taste it. Baked goods work especially well for this lesson.
When Mario gets older, I believe cooking will help him with a variety of skills including math, science and reading. Recipes are nice learning tools. The measurements are great for math skills. Cooking and baking techniques are prefect science projects with edible results. Reading recipes not only expand a child’s vocabulary but teaches them how to listen and interpret what they are reading since they must follow the directions.
The Chopping Block offers classes for tots, kids and teens and week-long summer camps for kids and teens. They are so fun to be a part of because I love the students’ enthusiasm. They work together in groups to prepare delicious recipes and the best part is that they get to eat their accomplishments. That is better than getting an A+ in a class in my book.
Actually, The Chopping Block tot classes has inspired me to have Mario’s friends over on rainy days to make lunch. They all love making their own mini pizzas! Maybe in a few years, I can take a night or two off from preparing dinner and leave it up to my budding chef. With another boy on the way, I know we will be going through lots of food in our house.