Cooking with toddlers sounds like a monumental task some days, but if you are interested in the principles of Montessori education, then cooking is one of the best possible places to start. There are a number of ways to integrate your child’s education into the kitchen, allowing you to simultaneously teach them crucial life skills and guide them in their development. Here are some specifics on how the process works, and particularly how it can be implemented for toddlers:
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Prepare for cooking with toddlers with the proper tools
This is not the time to break out your great-grandmother’s rolling pins. Finding the appropriate, toddler-friendly tools, are essential to making cooking with toddlers enjoyable. These are our favorite resources and making baking much more manageable. Click each image to shop or head to my Amazon Storefront to see all my favorite kitchen accessories!
How does cooking relate to to Montessori education?
Cooking gives your child a certain degree of freedom in how they want to accomplish their goals and the task at hand, which is very compatible with the tenets of Montessori. They are not restricted in how they move around the kitchen, which can have positive effects on their development.
Similarly, cooking with toddlers can take up a rather large chunk of time, which means that your child will be able to focus on the task at hand for a long period. Instead of breaking up the experience into smaller chunks that might not be as effective, this style allows your child to really commit to the experience.
Of course, cooking with toddlers also allows for a very direct and constructive method of learning, which is exactly what you want to achieve with a Montessori education. When creating a dish, your child will both be able to participate in the creation process and directly enjoy the fruits of their labor, which can help commit those lessons to memory.
What kinds of cooking activities are right for toddlers?
One of the biggest hurdles that you may face is finding activities that are specifically useful for toddlers. For a number of reasons, they can’t just dive into any type of cooking in the kitchen, so you will need to find small and productive tasks that they can engage in. However, you also want the tasks to have a clear and identifiable result that they can appreciate.
For this reason, snacks are an excellent place to start. When cooking with a toddler that is between one and two years old, cutting up fruit (with child-safe tools) and combining that fruit into a larger dish can be a great idea. They will be able to both observe the food changing as a direct result of their actions and taste how their actions have resulted in new flavors.
Baking bread from scratch is also a perfect choice, since it allows your child to see massive changes as a result of their actions. Watching the bread rise after grinding up the flour can be a very fulfilling and educational experience, but they might not be able to make the connection between them until they are two or three.
How will you know if cooking was successful in teaching elements of a Montessori education?
Child development is a very complex and lengthy process, so you might not notice the results of guided cooking with toddlers immediately. The skills and techniques that your child learned while cooking can be used to approach other tasks, where they can apply principles across different subjects. In other words, giving your child freedom and the ability to create today can result in a much smarter child tomorrow.