Sometimes the most wondrous accomplishment in the kitchen isn't the food!
One day recently, we were lucky to attend an exciting trial preschool class offered by an occupational therapist, Kristin Ciorra www.SENSEsationalFUNdamentals.com/shop. It's for 3- 5 year olds and their parents & caretakers, but the information could apply to kids throughout elementary school. She talked about hand dexterity- called fine motor skills- that are needed to succeed in school and suggested ways we can help at home! A lot, it seems, can be accomplished in the kitchen!
Often, she said, we take fine motor abilities for granted but all kids don't acquire them at the same time and some lag far behind. Kids need these abilities to learn handwriting and many other tasks that help them succeed in school.
What are some examples? Some kids don't have the grip strength they need to hold a pencil and write on paper. Some don't instinctively use their other hand to steady the paper while they write. It can be really challenging for kids when we stick a pencil in their hands to make them trace letters and practice writing. But by contrast, it's fun and motivating to cook with a grandparent and gain those very same skills in the process!
All teachers and adults try to help children hold a pencil correctly. The more kids practice, the stronger their grip becomes and the better they're able to write. Kristin assured us children can grip other things to gain that same fine motor strength... such as a spoon. Stirring is fun and it's a great way to improve forearm and hand strength.
Holding a pencil with an index finger and thumb requires a pincer grip. How many ways can this be accomplished in a kitchen? A child can help separate herbs from the stems, find a pinch of salt, break apart lettuce, put peanut butter on toast with a spoon. You can create the scenarios. The opportunities are endless.
Measuring and pouring require a lot of fine motor dexterity. In addition, kids learn to cross the midline of their bodies and must use 2 hands in different ways at the same time. We don't usually think about these as important pre-writing tasks. Yet Kristin explained that they are!
As they get older, little chefs can practice reading a recipe, writing a menu, figuring out how to set a table and learn all about nutrition just by spending time with us doing what we're likely doing every day.
And if all goes well, everyone might even enjoy a good meal! From fine motor to fine cooking! Well, maybe!
Got more fine motor kitchen suggestions? We just ordered a couple of meal preparations as a Christmas gift from a cooking club called raddishkids.com Has anyone tried this?