My daughter absolutely loves to "help" in the kitchen. I put the word help in quotes because often times it requires more effort and time but most often it is absolutely worth it. I hope you know what I mean. For example, sometimes, I am trying to make a quick dinner because my son is starving and grumpy and my daughter is pulling at my leg begging to help me cook. At that moment, it is really hard for me to stop and let her help but I try to MAKE the time to bake or cook things with her.
Yesterday, we all set out to make cookies. A 3 1/2 year old, a 22 month old and a 37 year old all in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies from a bag. (I have written about them...they are fab). It was pretty comical. My daughter could actually read the directions because there were only 2 ingredients besides the bag contents and each ingredient had a picture next to it. Once mixed together, my son would spoon a huge glob-full and put it on the cookie sheet. Hilarious. They actually turned out great and we all loved them.
Today, my daughter really wanted to make banana bread. I made sure I had all the ingredients and waited until my son was down for his nap. We then turned it into the "Mommy Cooking School". She was so very excited and felt extremely special. I let her do most everything except breaking the egg (she had tried that last night and it didn't go very well). She would stir until she couldn't do it anymore and then I took over. It was super pleasant and fun...and the reason why it wasn't tense is because I had enough time to REALLY let her do it herself.
I believe there is so much for kids to learn in the kitchen. Patience, following directions, calculations and math...and most importantly, for my 3 year old LISTENING! If she doesn't listen, the project will get ruined. And there is so much for parents to learn from cooking with our kids in the kitchen, PATIENCE, listening and letting our kids try something that could potentially be very messy. Let them go for it and have fun! The reward of the experience is totally worth it! Our banana bread was wonderful and as my daughter said, "It was the best ever!"...words from the chef herself!!