As a little girl, some of my favorite memories with my mother are of spending time with her in our big kitchen. We had a large center island with stools you could pull up to it and I would talk to her as she cooked, and sometimes she’d let me help out. I always felt so grown-up whenever she let me help.
So I’ve made a point of letting the JavaKids help me out with cooking from a very early age. There are actually studies that say that children who have access to the kitchen do better in school — they learn a lot of math, problem-solving, and social skills in the kitchen. They often tend to learn better nutritional habits as well.
JavaBoy used to call it our Cooking Show whenever we would cook something together and would narrate, as if we had an invisible audience. I don’t actually get many opportunities to watch cooking shows, so I am not sure where he picked up the concept, but perhaps he caught me watching Top Chef in the evenings.
The kids have a very elaborate wooden kitchen with quite a bit of cookware and wooden playfood — the kitchen was a real find at a consignment sale, having come from a Montessori school, and I’ve carefully acquired the playfood to avoid so many of the sets that contain fast food fare, instead buying the types of foods I would like the children to eat in real life.
I think because of all of this, JavaGirl has recently become more interested in my kitchen activity and every night, as dinner preparations begin, she’ll run over to her play kitchen, grab one of the aprons and tie it on, and sometimes even add the chef’s hat and proclaim, “Here I am!” and immediately want to join in!
Tonight, she saw her father preparing the green beans they picked at the farm this weekend and she asked if she could help. Seeing that he was cutting the ends off the beans, she said, “Mommy, get my knife!” I thought it was so adorable, that I went ahead and got her child-safe knife and a cutting board and set aside some beans for her and even got one of her little stainless steel pots for her to put some beans into just like Daddy. Although we ended up finding the scissors more effective than the knife for her, you could tell that she felt all grown-up helping out (although she ended up eating the beans raw!) and it was a priceless moment — for her but for me, as well.
Here are some interesting links about the benefits of cooking with your kids: