10 Ways To Engage Your Child While You Are Cooking
During the pandemic, parents are coming out with innovative ideas to keep their children engaged with simple tasks. Here are 10 ways you can engage your child while you are cooking
By Vidya Nesarikar • 9 min read
“I recently saw a video of a mom on Facebook who was baking and creating all these out-of-the world fondant decorations — all with a baby strapped to her in a sling. The baby was sleeping peacefully straddled by the sling and her mother’s warmth. It seemed almost impossible,” said Swetha Jittanakatti, mother of a five-year-old.
But is it really impossible? Most of us struggle to keep the kids entertained while we cook. And there must be a better way to finish your cooking than having them hanging around your legs — asking you every two minutes, no, every 10 seconds — are you done, Amma?
Post the onset of COVID-19, as we are ordering out less and the dependency on cooks and maids are at an all-time low, you are bound to spend a good portion of your time in the kitchen churning out meals for your family. Every parent would like to keep their child entertained while they cook a wholesome meal for the family, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. The kitchen can be a dangerous place for a small child – it is, after all, a place with inflammable gas, sharp knives, boiling water, etc.
How to turn time in the kitchen into learning opportunity for children?
Here are some ideas to keep the children engaged and even create learning opportunity while you cook. Sounds great, right?
Children like to observe and learn from adults. Sometimes even when the child is surrounded by toys, he or she may prefer to bang a pot with a spoon. Your child is not just making a racket or bored of his toys, but is learning about his environment. So, the kitchen can be a great learning field for your little Einstein.
Simple activities to engage kids in the age group of 3-to-5-year olds
1. Counting Exercises: Give your toddler a bag of potatoes or tomatoes and ask her to count them. You can give her two baskets too and ask them to sort it according to size or colour (tomatoes). This could be a great learning opportunity in sorting, counting and dividing. Do not give very small items to count as this could be a choking hazard and curious toddlers may stick a pea in their nose or ear.
2. Pouring, Filling and Measuring: Give your toddler some dal or pulse and ask her to put into a container. Get your child involved in activities like pouring, filling and measuring while you are cooking. It’s a good way to learn about basic concepts such as bigger and smaller and improve gross motor skills too.
3. Mixing, and mashing: Ask your little helper to mix salads for the family meal or let them mash food. Mixing salads and mashing bananas and avocados are good ideas. Sure, things might get a bit messy, but what fun! This is a great activity to improve hand-eye coordination.
4. Make dough: When making dough for rotis or bread, give them a small bit to make their own dough. It’s a great exercise for motor skills and get those creative juices going. Make Sure sure to keep them going for some time.
5. Washing fruits and veggies: : All this requires are a washing tray or bowl, some salt and water and kids will love it! Who doesn’t love splashing about in water?
Simple activities to engage kids in the age group of 6-to-10-year-olds
1. Set the table: Children can be involved in keeping small things on the table such as place mats, spoons and plates.
2. Work with veggies: : Involve your kids in shelling peas, breaking cauliflower and broccoli into small florets, peeling oranges, tearing lettuce and other greens. These are good ways to learn about textures and different fruits and veggies.
3. Kitchen Gardening: Your child will gain a sense of achievement by growing his own veggies and herbs. Start off in a modest manner – with easy-to-grow plants such herbs, tomatoes and chillies. Your bambino will love it when the first tomato pops out, and he washes, cooks and finally eats it! Further engage your child to source veggies or herbs from the garden when needed. First lessons in farming!
4. Cleaning: Get your kids to clean counter tops with a spray bottle and a cloth. Make sure they don’t squirt the spray into their eyes. Enlist them to help out in washing dishes as well.
10. Cooking: Your little champs can make their own snacks. Encourage them to make their own sandwiches and, juices like lemonade. Or introduce them to no-fire cooking. Be firm – make sure they clean any mess they make. ( ofcourse they will make a bit of a mess.)
All the activities mentioned are a great way to start your child to be self-reliant in the kitchen. It is definitely a life skill that both boys and girls need.
Safety measures you need to take before letting kids in the kitchen area
Before your kids enter the kitchen make sure there are no hazards.
- Make sure there are no wires or heavy items they can pull on themselves.
- Hot stoves, ovens and switches of mixers should be out of reach (especially for toddlers).
- Toddlers standing on a stool to reach the kitchen counter top may be a safety hazard as they may topple.
- Seat them on the ground or seat them on the counter top itself ( after taking the necessary precautions.)
Pointers to start engaging children in the kitchen:
- Involve your children in the kitchen regularly.
- Bear in mind that there will be good days and bad.
- Do not make it a one-off activity.
- Make a list of things they can do to help and put it on the fridge.
- Involve them in grocery shopping as well (opt for online untill the COVID-19 situation improves.)
- As they slowly get a hang of things, make their tasks longer and more complex.
- Be patient.
When it comes to involving kids in the kitchen, and away from their gadgets, small steps will go a long way to make cooking and eating a social activity. It would also give you moments to bond with your child (also, a nice photo opportunity) and make your child more responsible. If you have other ideas on how to involve your child while you are cooking, share them with us. Happy parenting and cooking!
Also read: Fun And Creative Ways To Keep Your Baby Busy
About the author:
Written by Vidya Nesarikar on 17 September 2020.
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