No matter what path we take in life, problem-solving skills are something that we need to use on a daily basis. You may be surprised to learn that cooking is one of the best activities you can introduce your children to if you are looking to improve their critical thinking and problem solving-skills. Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons that spending time together in the kitchen is so beneficial for this and the best activities to do with your kids to make critical thinking come easily to them in their everyday lives.
Improve Cognitive Development
Critical thinking skills are linked to cognitive development and there are many ways in which you can improve these skills in the kitchen. When following any recipe or undertaking any activity in the kitchen, you’ll find that your child is challenged to make good decisions. Measuring out ingredients and following a recipe in order will allow your child to think critically and solve issues that may come up along the way. We all know how easy it is to make mistakes in the kitchen, even if you are the most experienced chef. However, there’s almost always a way around these problems, and you’ll be able to resolve these when you work together with your child or leave them to find a solution for themselves.
A Simple Problem-Solving Activity – Making a Salad
One of the easiest problem-solving activities you can undertake in the kitchen is leaving your child to make a salad. You provide them with the prepared ingredients, and then it’s up to them to find out how to ration the ingredients for each person and present the salad nicely. At the end of the process, they can add the salad dressing and toppings, so that it’s ready for all of your family to enjoy. Making salads or fruit salads also encourages them to unleash their creativity, so that you enjoy new and exotic meals that you might not have tried before. Salad making is a good activity for younger children who you don’t want to put near the oven or any type of heat, and you can wash and prepare the ingredients in advance or with them depending on their age.
Use Available Ingredients to Create a Meal
We all know how annoying it can be to come home from work after a long day and be left to make a meal with only a few ingredients. Whether you are working with a tight budget or just forgot to go grocery shopping, you have to use your creativity to make a meal that will satisfy you and your family. Challenge your child to make a meal or bake a cake with only a limited number of ingredients. For younger children, you could do this by giving them items to decorate a cake you’ve already cooked, whereas older children and teenagers could make a full meal from scratch. This is one of the best problem-solving activities in the kitchen which will really push your child to find a solution to working with very limited resources.
Reorder the Recipe
If you have a recipe in mind that you are planning to cook as a family, then start by cutting up the steps to the recipe to put them back in the correct order. Before even starting with the cooking, your child is tasked with placing the steps in the order you need to follow. You’ll then review their work against the real recipe, to check that you are ready to go. It’s a great way to start off a kitchen session and get your child engaged in the recipe they are going to follow. You’ll be able to answer their questions about why the order is the way it is, so that they can safely cook food alone in the future.
Learn That It’s Okay Not to Always Have a Plan
Some children grow up thinking that everything needs to always go perfectly in life for it to be okay. Unfortunately, that’s just not the way the world works, and we need to learn at a young age to accept things for how they are. Teaching your child that not everything will go perfectly in life is a lesson you can share in the kitchen. There’s nothing wrong with deviating from the base plan, and sometimes these little mistakes actually turn out to be a good thing in the long run. Your child will become more resilient when they improve their problem-solving skills in the kitchen, as they’ll be able to adapt to any challenges that come their way in the future.
Working With Dietary Requirements
Another great way to improve your child’s critical thinking is to encourage them to think about cooking for people with dietary requirements and restrictions. We all have family members and friends who are unable to eat certain ingredients, whether that’s dairy, soy, or wheat. When you remove the possibility of using one ingredient from a recipe, your child will be left with the task of finding a way around this problem without impacting the taste and texture of the dish. These limitations are a great way to open up a conversation with your child as well about being more accommodating to other people, which they’ll take with them into their later years.
Cooking is a great way to improve your child’s problem-solving skills and critical thinking. The more time you spend together in the kitchen, the more creative your child will be when it comes to finding solutions to the issues they are presented with. These lessons will serve them well when they head to college or have a family of their own in the future, when they’ll need to work with limitations or a budget. We offer a range of kid-friendly kitchen tools that can help to make cooking together more enjoyable and safer, so make sure you check them out on our online store today.