This month’s blog posts have been about “Connections” and when it comes to kids and food, there’s lots of ways to connect for fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness.
Kids seem to have an entirely different connection to foods that grownups. Some days they will like a particular food, other days they will refuse to eat it. The color and texture of foods can be more important than taste. Encouraging a child to try a new food may be quite a challenge. Being involved in the growing of a food, seems to be a powerful connection. As the Guerilla Gardener Ron Finley says, “Kids who grow tomatoes, will eat tomatoes. Kids who grow kale, will eat kale.” Many schools now have their own garden and growing programs, not just for the food, but also for the learning.
There’s lots of science that happens in a garden and kids get the benefit of hands-on experience. It’s awesome to watch a see grow into a plant, and a plant produce food. No wonder kids are eager to find out how it tastes. Besides science, there’s basic math for counting and comparing sizes.
Involving kids in the preparation of food includes lots of learning too. There’s no doubt that cooking is a sensory experience, for all the senses. Cooking gives a chance to practice actions like measuring, stirring, doing steps in a particular order, observing, and following directions. Waiting is not always easy, but it can certainly be important. Sharing will be part of the process too. Kids also learn about safety. They will feel proud of being able to help, even with cleanup. Language is a big part of the activity: new words, explaining, and asking lots of questions, like “When will it be ready?”
Some easy ideas for cooking with kids are pancakes, smoothies, and bagel or pita pizzas. Kids can help wash fruits and veggies, and slice soft ones like bananas, for veggies or fruits and dip. For a play-of-the-day, is there something your child can help cook or, depending on where you live, harvest?