The days are warm and long. The kids are home and need something to keep them busy. It’s the perfect time to include your kids in meal preparation. Meal preparation is an opportunity for your youngster to have hands-on experiences with various foods.
“Multi-sensory learning” is involving all the senses in the process. When kids have chores in the kitchen, touch, sight, smell, and sound are part of their learning experience. Kids used to help plant, water, weed, and then harvest a summer garden. Kids would help prepare the food for storage, then in the making of meals, and the eventual clean-up. Before every home had a dishwasher, kids not only set the table, but did all the dishes.
When I was growing up I had two best friends, who lived in my neighborhood, Kathy and Debbie. Kathy’s mom was extremely fastidious and her home was always immaculate. We seldom ventured inside Kathy’s house and then it was only with trepidation.
On the other hand, Debbie was the oldest girl of five children. There was always something going on at her house. I was often invited over for dinner.
Wyatt loves to help his dad bring in the groceries and this melon smells so yummy!
Debbie and her brothers took turns helping their mom with the meals. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much time I spent at her house. Because I was there so much, I’d be helping right along with them.
Multi-Sensory Learning Vital for the Picky Eater
Families are divorced from the land where food is grown. We no longer appreciate the work it takes to grow, harvest, and then prepare the food. Often mom doesn’t really cook. So why should kids be expected to help with preparing meals? Cooking is an excellent activity, which will help your picky eater appreciate once-refused foods. Each food has unique colors, textures, smells, and tastes. Each food is different and different is fun! Cooking is a hands-on experience.
There is a great sense of accomplishment with meal preparation. Most parents will occasionally bake sweets with their children. This is a helpful task to learn how to measure, but most kids don’t need any encouragement to eat cookies or cupcakes. Parents will often allow their kids to make boxed foods, like macaroni and cheese. This, again, only promotes the consumption of highly processed foods.
Meal prep in your kitchen is the perfect setting to talk about various healthful ingredients. What’s the texture? What color is it? Who likes to eat this? What does it taste like? What’s the food smell like? How does it benefit your body (carrots help our eyes, broccoli prevents cancer, etc.)
A Picky Eater Is Never Too Young
Helping in the kitchen is a natural method to include multi-sensory learning, no matter how old your child is. Children experience a great sense of accomplishment when they master simple cooking skills. There’s a greater desire to taste a new food or to eat a once-refused food, if your child has helped in its preparation.
1) A toddler can help carry unbreakable items to the table. They can help to wash fruit and veggies with a soft veggie brush. They can spread cream cheese, nut butters, and jelly on sandwiches with plastic-ware. Mix ingredients. Peel bananas. Shuck corn. Tear lettuce.
2) A preschooler can help set and clear the table. Toss things in the trash. Identify and bring items within reach from the pantry. Help measure ingredients. Break eggs into a bowl with assistance. Make sandwiches. Toss salads (Not just lettuce, either. Try cauliflower and broccoli salad.). Serve herself/himself.
3) Grade school children can set and clear the table by themselves. Wash and dry the dishes. Help make a grocery list and help you shop. They can read the nutrition label and identify ingredients on it. Use the blender. Make simple recipes with assistance. Make salads. Peel potatoes. Make a fruit smoothie in a blender.