The kitchen is a simple and casual place, but it can become the hub for developing and enhancing you're child’s skills, be it motor, sensory or even curiosity.
Simple scientific experiments play a vital role in a child’s development.
Purvi Gandhi, an occupational therapist, intervention coach and the founder of Theraphil, breaks down each skill a child can gain while helping out in the kitchen:
This includes gross as well as fine motor skills. When you stir with wooden spoons, pour, squeeze, knead dough, open bottles (grasp development), hold a spoon, and scoop out ingredients.
Working in the kitchen supports the development and strengthening of our finger muscles too. It is important to develop the muscles since it helps us write, and do everyday chores like shoe lace tying, buttoning and zipping.
Enhancing bilateral co-ordination
This is the skill that allows you to use both sides of your body at the same time, for example, stabilising the paper with one hand while writing with the other or cutting with scissors. Activities like using a rolling pin with both hands, shilling peas, cutting simple salad ingredients for sandwiches, and sifting flour can enhance bilateral co-ordination in a fun way.
To develop curiosity with safe scientific experiments
This also requires motor skills as well as gives sensory stimulation, like growing sprouts, making edible slime (great for tactile stimulation and developing muscles of the hand by adjusting the required consistency) with Fruitella which is available in Indian market or gummy bears available globally, lemonade fizz ( pouring water into glass with one hand and holding the glass with other hands – bilateral integration, squeezing lemon (hand muscles) and a visual delight of the fizz.
Cooking offers many opportunities to explore sensory inputs. Like smelling different aromas, in fact, it can be made into a game to smell different cooking ingredients like coffee, tea, cardamom, and cinnamon by using smell and not vision.
It also provides other sensory inputs like feeling different textures with our skin on our hands as well as our mouths like the sticky texture of the dough or of a caramelised chocolate in the mouth, the rough texture of the salt and pepper. The list is endless.
Also receiving heavy work input (proprioception) by performing various activities like kneading the dough, stirring, and mixing foods with a thick consistency.
Planning and organisation
Assembling the ingredients and planning the steps before starting to cook helps in enhancing planning and organisational skills. The skills are useful when the child needs to organise their schoolbag, and desk at school.
It takes a lot of planning to balance school work and play to avoid disappointments. It can be made more fun by making it a family cooking day which can help in building stronger relationships and creating connections.