Step Ahead Teacher with children

Kitchen confidence: building cooking skills and growing imaginations

At Step Ahead, we know play kitchens let the imagination run wild and are hugely beneficial to the development of young minds. From ‘supermarket shopping’ to ‘cooking’ in the kitchen or serving a meal for special friends, there are endless opportunities for children to work on their social skills and discovery.

Children are incredibly observant, which shines through in their play. Even the most mundane of daily chores can become a fun game in a child’s mind. Supermarket shopping with play food, boxes and a basket will provide hours of fun. As will having a tea party with a menu of their choosing. Cooking dinner with pots and pans is not only a potentially fun noisy activity but gives children a chance to use their memory – what does Mummy or Daddy do when they make dinner? Why not get messy and make this a tactile sensory activity! Sand, water and mud can create a surprisingly broad array of ‘meals’! 

Wearing a chef’s hat at home

  • First and foremost, always make sure the kitchen is safe before allowing children to join in. Explain that the oven is hot, remove any knives or dangerous items and keep an eye on them at all times.
  • Dinnertime can be a battle with some children, but getting them involved in the process is one way of increasing their confidence and empowering them to make yummy choices. A fussy eater may enjoy choosing their healthy pizza or burger ingredients.
  • Helping in the kitchen is an excellent opportunity to try new flavours! Explain what you’re cooking and let them have little bites of vegetables or smell different herbs and spices. Interacting like this can ‘beef’ up their vocabulary – introduce new words like tangy, sour, spicy, sweet, yummy or yucky.
  • Not all helpers are helpful – a great distraction is filling up the sink with warm water and giving them a range of kitchen utensils to ‘clean’. Pastry brushes, sieves and cups make entertaining tools, plus there is minimal clean-up at the end!