My daughter is three and since she was a newborn baby she has spent alot of time in the kitchen with me. As an infant she was either strapped to my back or sitting on the counter in a baby chair. As an early toddler she sat on the floor with a wooden spoon and pot making music. Around 16 months she began “helping” me cook. Honestly it was no great parent planning when it came to having my daughter in the kitchen. I needed to be able to cook and I needed her in my sight. My naughty little munchkin could not be left on own for even a moment. She can get into trouble faster than a blink of the eye.I learned that when I gave her things to do she enjoyed her time in the kitchen, which in turn made my job alot easier.
She is now three and every time I go into the kitchen she is right behind me grabbing her apron and begging me to help in any way that she can.She helps me mix atta ( chapati dough) with her hands. She helps roll out her own little messy rotis. I cut the veggies and she puts them on the sandwiches or on a homemade pizza. She loves to help measure and I even let her push the button on the chopper or blender! That is her favorite job! Sometimes its easier to work without her in there, but I know that it truly benefits her in so many ways so I find a way for her to help.
1. Teaches a love of food and cooking
Nasreen loves all types of foods. Since she is a Masala child we have a mixture of Continental and Indian foods. I enjoy teaching her the traditions of both of these cultures in the food. I try to incorporate language learning into the cooking as well. I remind her that in Punjabi apple is called a Seb. She holds the apple and says the word seb, and I know this is better than looking at a picture and saying the same thing. Nasreen is more willing to try new food when she helped make it. What might have been deemed “gross” is now yummy because she helped put it on the pizza. I have noticed since I started working more and not being able to spend that time with her in the kitchen she has resorted to only preferring simple foods like chicken nuggets. We will be having more cooking sessions in the future to bring back that eater I love so much
2. Practical usage of measurement and counting and science
Whenever I measure flour for a cake or put yeast to rise, or even boil water I explain the process to her. She has started to understand the concepts of measurements ( cups, tablespoons). When I put warm water and sugar with the yeast she has learned that we are feeding the yeast so they grow because they are alive. The same goes when we make yogurt at home, she knows we must keep it warm for the yogurt to grow. The kitchen is a great classroom.
3. Learning how to follow directions and follow through from start to finish
Helping in the kitchen my daughter has learned the value of perseverance. To turn flour and sugar and eggs and other ingredients into a cake . Its a long process and it teaches them the steps to succeed. When she is in the kitchen with me I just keep talk to her telling her all the steps. Its amazing to create something from all those raw ingredients. I know that this process has helped her become a focused child. For example Nasreen is a pro at puzzles. You give her a 50+ piece puzzle and she will sit until its finished. I know that some of that focus has come from her time in the kitchen with me.
4. Forming a special bond between parents (other family member) and child.
Some of my greatest memories as a child are of my mom and I cooking. I especially loved cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Getting up early and stuffing the turkey, making the mashed potatoes, yams, and green beans. I loved the pleasure of seeing everyone enjoying the food I helped make. I also loved the relationship my mom and I had. None of my other siblings came in the kitchen it was just her and I. I am glad for the time that my daughter and I spend in the kitchen together. I hope cooking is a passion that we always share together.