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Healthy & Fun Choices®

Kids Helping in the Kitchen

May 07, 2019 11:47PM ● By Kirsten Klug
It's true... my children love to play! They also love to watch their own shows and do their games.

At the same time, I know learning is integral to life. And, I know as a parent it is my job to figure out how to integrate learning into our daily life. 

My goal is that my children feel confident in how to create good, healthy food and have fun creating what they eat and how they live!

I have found a way to parent so that we learn through the process of life. For instance, I am not the mom who makes their child sit and do homework for hours on end. I'm not the mom who lets their child play video games all night, while I prepare the entire dinner. I'm also not the parent who puts their kids in time out over and over again. Instead we talk through our challenges and miscommunications.

It's fun to watch and talk with your children as they learn. By being sensitive and aware to what they gravitate towards and what stresses them out, you can help them feel important. If they like a certain kind of food try to have that available for them to cook with or if they don't like the feeling of the gooey mess when making meatballs have them wear gloves. My children are both dyslexic and it affects them differently.  I talk about their differences with a hope that they can see their differences as a gift.

Look for a variety of ways and opportunities to be curious, creative, and think. I enjoy lookin at our life as a big science research project or a huge canvas where we can throw all different colors of paint. 

Learning math, writing, science, and problem-solving skills into our daily life, are so important to our well  

10 ideas on how I do it with a focus on the KITCHEN:

1. When my kids were young and barely walking I had them playing in the sink and washing plastic dishes. So much fun with bubbles and the scrub brushes. If they got soaked, we'd just turn it into bath time and bring the dishes with us.

2. Great for our fine-motor skills, I placed dishes, cups, and safe utensils down low in drawers so my toddlers could play, make noises, and learn how to hold items while I was preparing their food and snacks. 
 
3. Outside we created a "mud kitchen" so they could create with mud, mix in plants or flowers, get dirty, and enjoy the process of creation. 

4. When my kids got older, I had them help plan and figure out the budget of our meals. We would even figure out how much each meal cost per person. A great way to learn math skills using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and tips with percentages.

5. Unlike many parents, I really enjoy bringing my kids to the grocery store to help select food. In the produce department, I often have them each choose a colorful unique vegetable and a fruit. At Trader Joe's they can each push their own grocery cart. When I was injured, we could take the electric scooter. As we select our foods, we talk about what we are choosing. We look at prices and make the best choices. I remember one time my daughter picked out three boxes of pizza which provided a great discussion with the checker on which pizza we should buy today and what to try another day.

6. When we enter the grocery store we each add up the groceries by rounding up and try to figure out who can guesstimate the closest to the actual cost.

7. Have your kids help plan your menu. Then, bring the kids into the kitchen to prepare, cut, and cook our meal! A great opportunity to talk about proper holding of knives, how to cut foods on their flat side, and what the difference is for dicing or mincing. 

8. Have the whole family help set the table and clean up afterwards. It's more fun and takes a lot less time when we all help out. Some days my kids aren't into it, so I have to recognize that, and let them have breaks. And, that gives them the ability to offer to take care of it for me and give me a break sometimes!

9. Discuss and plan the clean up process. My kids have come up with great ideas on what to compost, throw out, give to the neighbors chickens, and recycle. 

10. This one is one of my favorites... figuring out what we can have as left overs for breakfast. I like to add vegetable left overs to my eggs in the morning. Another idea is making a smoothie.

Having kids in the kitchen is not perfect. I make mistakes and my kids do too. We laugh at ourselves a lot! We learn from what we create and often are surprised by our creations! We try to take life lightly and go with the flow.

Math shows up in all careers, house hold chores, and our retail marketplace.  

How will you bring learning and life skills together at the grocery store and in your kitchen?
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