My Very First Guest Blogger: Welcome, Dan Gilbert from Primrose Schools

I mentioned in my last post that one of the reasons I have re-embraced the blogging world is because I was contacted by someone reaching out to promote Bethenny Frankel, which is really quite fun for me because: A) She’s a kitschy celebrity who is my guilty pleasure to follow, B) I was flattered that her representative liked my blog enough to use it to promote her, and, on a more humble note, C) despite the limited activity from my end, someone actually found my blog and read it, and that deserves a nod of thanks. So, in the interest of giving nods-of-thanks where they’re due, welcome Dan Gilbert from Primrose Schools. Not only did he find me on-line, he thought enough of my blog to ask to be my first guest blogger, and that is pretty cool, too!

Dan writes about the educational value of learning to cook. His article speaks to parents with slightly younger children than I typically write for – my Little Miss just turned 14! However, I like it because Little Miss and I have always cooked together and we still do, and I believe that the value of kitchen-time, shared with family and friends, is not age-dependent.

Teaching Children through Cooking

By Dan Gilbert

The one room of the house in which we spend the most time can be the most dangerous for young children. Bubbling pots, sizzling skillets and delicious smells can make the kitchen the most desirable place for children to want to play. But don’t let the potential hazards keep children out of the kitchen. Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education at Primrose Schools, says kitchen time can be a great way for families to regain some lost, but valuable, family time. “The kitchen is often the most popular place in the house for families to gather. It’s a place for learning and sharing, where the family can enjoy quality time, and children can develop a sense of responsibility by participating in daily tasks,” says Dr. Zurn, which is a key component of the balanced learning curriculum at Primrose.

Follow this simple recipe to keep your kids safe while they learn and develop in the kitchen:

1. Engage your child meaningfully

2. Set some ground rules

3. Build up skills step-by-step

4. Keep it fun.

How to do it:

1. There are many tasks children can do independently. Simple jobs can boost a child’s confidence and give them a sense of accomplishment. Even very young children can get involved – give them some pots, pans and spoons: They can pretend to cook with you, or they can use them for some fantastic music-making. Tearing lettuce, adding sprinkles to sweets, or shaking Parmesan onto pasta are safe, satisfying tasks children can easily accomplish and engage children in a meaningful way.

2. Children need supervision when they’re in the kitchen, so always keep them within sight. Make sure you establish a list of safety rules with your children before you begin cooking. Discuss, on a regular basis, what’s safe to touch and what’s not. Teach children to wash their hands before and after handling food to avoid spreading germs. Setting ground rules will help keep the kitchen safe for everyone.

3. Children can develop many essential skills in the kitchen, such as following directions (e.g., recipes) or basic math skills (such as counting eggs, or understanding basic fractions and ratios such as 1 cup, ½ cup, ¼ cup, etc.). Older children can be taught more challenging skills, such as knife safety. When they are young, start them off with a dull spreader, cutting softer items first such as cheese or dough. As coordination develops, move them on to slicing vegetables and fruit with a plastic knife. Always have your child master easy tasks before attempting harder ones. In this way your child’s skills will grow, step by step.

4. We all know that cooking can be messy, even when the children aren’t around! If the cookie batter ends up on the floor instead of the baking sheet, oh well. Instead of stressing over the “oops” moments, offer guidance and let your child try again. Cleaning up can be just as fun, and it is an important lesson in itself. Remember to keep it fun. Learning can easily be disguised when you are having a good time: When it’s fun, your child may not even realize they are learning at all.

When your meal is complete, offer your child the first bite. Let them enjoy the satisfaction of creating something delicious. You can even discuss what might be on the menu next time you cook together. Bon appétit!

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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