Reasons Why I am Teaching My Toddler How to Cook
My favorite part of the day is cooking dinner. No, really. It is. There’s just something about preparing a meal for my family that relaxes me. I’d like to think it’s because I whip things together so effortlessly, but honestly, it is probably because of the quiet.
My three-year-old has become increasingly interested in the goings-on in the kitchen.
First it started with “what are you doing here, mommy?” It did not take long before things progressed to “how bout me?” and “let me try!” The first few (ok, several) times I responded “maybe next time” while distracting him with another activity at the dining room table. But here’s the thing about three-year-olds — they are persistent! Every day he would ask to help until gradually I began to relinquish some control. Little by little I would allow him to help me wash vegetables, mix ingredients, and eventually, I started to let him stir things on the stove and chop things.
Cooking Teaches Safety
My hesitation to let my toddler into the kitchen stemmed from a fear of him getting hurt. I am a constant worry wort, and images of burns and cuts flashed through my head the first few times he asked to help. What I am starting to find, however, is that I am teaching my son safety each time we cook together. First, we both wash our hands to prevent the spread of germs. When cooking on the stove, he wears oven mitts to protect his hands, and I make sure he keeps a safe distance from the steam.
Cooking Reinforces Math Skills (plus more!)
We count as we add ingredients. When he pours things into a measuring cup, he’s learning measurement as well as number recognition. As we go through the recipe, I read the step-by-step directions to him. We talk about liquids and solids — he learns about chemical reactions! He learns the names of the different foods and spices, and he can now recognize several herbs such as basil and parsley.
Cooking Creates Memories
Being a working mom (or ANY mom for that matter), I always have the question “am I doing enough?” at the back of my head. Am I present in my son’s life, even though I work all day? Am I fostering a nurturing childhood for him? Am I creating enough memories he’ll cherish later in life? While I don’t have the answer to all those questions, I do know my favorite time of the day continues to be cooking dinner for my family because it is something my son and I do together.