Making Family Connections at Mealtimes
Preparing food and eating together can be an important way to connect with family. We asked Little Kitchen Academy Co-Founder/Co-CEO Felicity Curin for three key tips to help parents find fun, engaging ways to spend more time with their children in the kitchen!
Engage your child with specific tasks as you prepare a meal together
Summer is a great opportunity to fire up the BBQ and find new opportunities to cook with your child. Why not have them help you mix the marinade for your grillables, or even better, prep some vegetables to throw on the grill? Being involved with preparing the vegetables probably means your child will be more likely to eat them!
Another fun summer activity (one of my family’s favorites) is making pizzas on the BBQ. Simply let each family member craft their own individual pizza with their toppings of choice (try some fresh tomatoes or basil from your AeroGarden!).
Give your child freedom (within limits)
Freedom within limits is an important Montessori concept. It’s the idea that our children can do challenging tasks by themselves if given clear expectations and instruction in advance. It also means that rather than stepping in and doing something for a child because we want to help, we adults show them how to complete a task, give them the tools to do that task safely, and then step back, giving them the space and opportunity to do it for themselves (only stepping in if they ask for our help).
As parents, it can be so hard to watch our children struggle with a task; but the joy and pride they will feel when they realize that they can do something they never thought they could is so worth it! So, give them a task in the kitchen, along with the right tools and supervision, and be amazed at what they can do!
A quick caveat on this point: Safety is always a top priority. If you see your child completing a task unsafely, that’s your cue to step in. Equipping your kitchen with tools that add an extra layer of safety (like the LKA Child-Safe Knife by PRISE) is a great way to give your child that freedom within limits.
Make food fun (and educational!)
We often hear from parents that their child won’t eat vegetables or refuses to try anything green. We’ve found that one of the best ways to get them to try something new is by engaging them in preparing the food (where they often will taste what they are prepping just out of curiosity).
But you can also make the process of eating food fun! One activity I always loved doing with my children was preparing a dish and telling them that I had made it using five ingredients, and they had to guess what each ingredient was. It gave them that extra challenge to try something they may not have considered before, but it also allowed them to discover different flavors and stop and think about what they were eating. Even better, it gave them space to explore the language of food. If they couldn’t figure out what a specific taste or flavor or ingredient was, they would start to describe it and end up learning more about it.
The more fun and engaging their eating experiences are, the more likely they’ll be to try new things and be excited about their discoveries. Here’s to a fun summer of connecting with the whole family around the dinner table!
Little Kitchen Academy, the key ingredient for an independent child, is a Montessori-inspired cooking academy for kids ages three through teen focused on providing a safe, inspiring, and empowering space for children to identify, develop, and refine their senses. Little Kitchen Academy has locations open in both Canada and the US, with more opening soon! Find a Little Kitchen Academy near you.