Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post: An Easy Recipe for Parents and Children

A few weeks ago, Dan Gilbert, the Communications Coordinator for Primrose Schools®, contacted me about doing a guest post relating to early childhood education. He sent me the following article about teaching kids how to help in the kitchen, and then I went to the site to check out the school, and I realized, this is the preschool I had fallen in love with when looking for one to place our oldest in! I love the Balanced Learning approach and the Helping Hands community service initiative. Since I'm blessed with a best friend who runs a preschool less than a mile from our home at a ridiculously affordable price, I couldn't bring myself to enroll her at Primrose, but under different circumstances, I definitely would have.

Please read the following article and click on the link to the school site for more information. There are 200 schools in the country, so there may be one near you.

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An Easy Recipe for Parents and Children
by Dan Gilbert

The kitchen can be a magical yet dangerous place for young children with the delectable aromas emanating from it. However, don’t let the potential hazards scare you from having your children help out when it comes to preparing a delicious meal or a scrumptious dessert together. Spending time in the kitchen is a great way for families to connect and spend quality time with each other.

The kitchen has always been a popular room in the house to come together as a family, says Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of the highly accredited education for preschool students at Primrose Schools. It’s a place where families can communicate about the day’s events. It’s also a place where children can take on their share of responsibility by learning daily tasks to help out.

Teaching children about nutrition can be a daunting task. By incorporating healthy foods into recipes you make together you will be able to teach your child healthy substitutes in a discrete way. The whole cooking experience shouldn’t be about nutrition, but it is a great way to begin teaching children healthy eating habits.

By following these simple tips, parents can keep the kitchen a safe yet fun environment for children:

1. Assign Simple Tasks: Children like to help out, so choose simple tasks they can do solely, but with your supervision. Assign simple jobs like rolling out dough, mixing batter, or decorating cookies. Even young children can get involved, so give them pots and a wooden spoon so they can pretend to cook and mix together ingredients. This gives them a sense of responsibility in the kitchen, yet you will know they are safe and out of harm’s way.

2. Establish a List of Rules: Children need the guidance and supervision of adults when in the kitchen, so put together a list of rules to follow. Teach them the importance of cleanliness by washing hands before touching food and the reasoning behind this. Make sure your children know what utensils are safe to touch and which ones are dangerous. To ensure that your child doesn’t accidentally get burned or hurt, take an inventory of the kitchen while working together making sure pot handles are turned inward and knives are out of reach.

3. Learn the Basics Step by Step: Children can master essential skills like counting out bread slices or by helping follow a recipe. As they accomplish the easy tasks, give them chores that are more advanced. Teach older children the basics of learning to use a knife by having them start out with items that are soft like cheese or soft bread and can be done with a dull spreader. When they are ready to move on to a bigger challenge, give them a plastic knife where they can practice slicing vegetables and fruit.

4. Make it a Fun Experience: Cooking with your children can be a messy and chaotic experience; so don’t stress the spills and mistakes. If eggs end up on the floor instead of in the bowl or the recipe doesn’t turn out quite right, offer your child guidance and let them try again. Teach your child the responsibility of cleaning up, while still having fun together.

When the meal is finished, make sure to tell them what an outstanding job they did. Let them be the first to sample a taste of what you made together and ask them what they would like to make together next time. Maybe instead of a dessert you can try making an appetizer?

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