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Our Blog: August 31, 2020

Learning Is On The Menu

Can you think of one single activity that you can do with your toddler, preschooler, or school-age child that includes experiences in math, science, reading, and builds confidence all at the same time? Plus, you don’t even need to be an expert in early childhood education to implement this amazing learning experience—all you need is a good recipe! Cooking with children (yes, even toddlers) is one of the best ways to make connections across so many discipline areas. 

Cooking also provides a great opportunity to discuss nutrition and healthy eating with your child. Nutritious eating is the foundation of a healthy body and an agile mind. It also helps build resilience in both children and adults. Resilience allows us to cope with stress more effectively and live a happier, more centered life.   

While it’s easier to give your child a task outside of the kitchen (so that you can cook dinner), the advantages of including children outweigh the inconveniences. Meal prep may end up taking more time and create more of a mess, but involving your child in the cooking process has a wide spectrum of learning opportunities and benefits.  

Here are some things to keep in mind to create an enjoyable, educational experience: 


Before Beginning

During the Experience

  • Choose a recipe you’ve made so there are no surprises. (Especially a family recipe that’s been handed down.) You don’t want to choose something too difficult when cooking with children. It may be something as simple as fruit salad or a sandwich.

  • Make sure you talk about why it’s important to wash your hands before preparing food. You may need to practice hand washing, as well as washing all the produce, surfaces, and utensils.

  • It is also a good idea to discourage sampling and double dipping because it is so easy to spread germs that way.

  • Cut down on some of the time it takes to cook with your child by being prepared. Gather all the necessary tools and ingredients before starting.


  • When cooking with your children, remember to talk about every different thing you’re doing, and use proper terms for things when you talk. For example:

  • If you’re making a batch of cookies, ask if they think you should include salt in the recipe. Do they think adding salt will change the taste of the cookie?

  • The recipe calls for 3 cups of water. We have put in 2 cups. How many more do we need?

  • The recipe says it needs to cook for half an hour. How many minutes is that?

  • Encourage your child to measure ingredients over a cookie sheet for a faster and easier clean-up process.

  • Show your child (preschool and older) how to handle items like graters and knives the correct way and how to use them safely so fingers are protected. It may seem early to teach this skill to your child, but it’s important for children to understand the responsibility and dangers.As long as you are close by to supervise, it is a wonderful learning experience.



Check out the following WebMD article. It talks about the benefits of cooking with your child and also shows some recipes that you can try at home. 

About the Author

Dr. Susan Canizares

Dr. Susan Canizares is the Chief Academic Officer at Learning Care Group, responsible for leading all aspects of the educational mission. Dr. Canizares earned her Ph.D. in language and literacy development from Fordham University and a master’s degree in special education, specializing in Early Childhood, from New York University. She has authored more than 100 nonfiction photographic titles for beginning readers. Some of her published credits include Side by Side Series: Little Raccoon Catches a Cold and A Writer’s Garden.