Culinary Arts in Early Education

I can remember spending a good majority of my childhood in the kitchen on my mother’s hip. I was so intrigued with how everything mixed together to make a delicious meal and how much work went into preparing a particular meal for a family of six. Just those simple moments here and there in the kitchen taught me so many things. Whether it’s little moments like preparing a sandwich for lunch, or bigger moments like helping with a Thanksgiving feast for the whole family, it’s an activity that will leave lasting memories and bring your family together.

I learned a few things while in the kitchen as a child:

1.Responsibility. There is no better feeling as a child than having responsibility. Even if you assign mixing the brownie batter to your child, they will take on the task. I can remember my mother assigning me the task to make the meal how I wanted. I had a texture issue when I was younger and I would not touch spaghetti sauce with tomato chunks in it. So my mother said that if I wanted to, I could make the sauce how I wanted to. I took the spaghetti sauce, put it in the blender, and added some random spices and there you had it! It didn’t come out half bad either, but I had that feeling of accomplishment as my family ate the meal. It truly is the little things.

2.Measurements. Whether it’s a homemade meal or a meal that comes from a box, you need to measure all of the different ingredients before adding them.  Getting all of the ingredients out with your child and then letting them measure is a great project. If you want to insert a math lesson into the meal, just double the recipe! You may have leftovers for a couple days but at least it is another way (besides the math book) that your child can learn adding fractions. It’s a great way to show your child that math really is used in day to day routines.

3.Cleanup. Arguably the worst part of cooking is the clean-up afterwards. But, if it is instilled young, it will just become another part of the routine. Even if it is as simple as putting a few dishes in the dishwasher, let your child help. Learning the responsibility of cleaning up after a mess is something they will also take with them through life.

4.Entertainment. Just because the television isn’t on or there are no electronic games nearby doesn’t mean your child can’t have fun. Add food coloring to certain dishes or just let your child plan the meal that you will cook together. It may not be traditional, but it will allow them to take pride in it and be more involved.

5.Memories. Though this may be a little cheesy, pun intended, the memories you attain from culinary arts are priceless and lasting. My earliest memory in the kitchen was making sandwiches before afternoon Kindergarten with my mom. She would draw a smiley face on the cheese in my sandwich with mustard, we would eat lunch together, and I would run outside for the bus. It became a routine and from then on I would always help her out.

The culinary arts will forever be a child’s best friend. What child doesn’t love food, family, and learning new things? And for the parents, who doesn’t love spending time with their children, a helping hand, and lasting memories? Plan a special night a week to cook a meal with your children or make a snack for a football game on a Sunday. Something so simple can go a long way, for both you and your children.

The Children’s Workshop is a local child care provider that incorporates culinary arts into their curriculum. Our location in Norwood, MA has an entire kitchen dedicated to cooking with the children. They make lots of dishes, some more edible than others. While cooking, the Preschool and PreK students are learning math and science skills as well as patience, team work, and responsibility. Learning to cook can also help picky eaters try more new things.  Check out this segment on WPRI about quick and easy meals to make together at home: Click here.


Melanie Cline has been a teacher at The Children’s Workshop for over five years. She worked with children through school while she attended Rhode Island College. After graduating she stayed on with The Children’s Workshop, working with children of all ages from 6 weeks old to 12 years old. Her favorite thing about working with children is getting to know their unique personalities, their sense of humor, and their honesty.