By now, most folks who read this blog know how strongly I feel about cooking and eating with our kids. And, for those who pay attention to the news, there have been reports several times a year for the past five years or so on research that has shown, over and over again, that family mealtimes are extremely beneficial to kids. Studies have shown a myriad of benefits to kids who eat at least one meal a day with their families: they study better, do better in school, are less apt to use drugs, drink or smoke cigarettes, have better relationships with their families, communicate better with their families and with everyone else, and they tend to eat better, more healthy foods.
Cooking with kids from an early age is also beneficial. Kids can learn physical coordination, math skills, how to follow sequential instructions, fine motor skills, physics, chemistry and biology, not to mention nutrition, history and culture, all by simply helping Mom or Dad cook dinner. Not to mention kids also learn a useful life skill–how to cook–which will stay with them and serve them well for their entire lifetimes. And need I say that a kid who grows up helping to cook is more likely to go on in life to cook for themselves, perhaps leading to a healthier lifestyle?
So, as I did with Morganna from the age of about three on, I have been doing with Kat from the age of about two upward–I have been taking her into the kitchen and cooking with her.
But while Morganna would happily stand on a kitchen chair so she could be up at the counter with me to stir batters, pick leaves off of herbs or beat eggs with a whisk, Kat is too timid. She got scared standing on chairs, because, well, frankly, our chairs are a little wobbly and just don’t feel stable enough to her. She would panic and think she was going to fall and scream to be put back on the floor.
So, unhappily, I confined her help in the kitchen to stuff I could do on the floor with her, though it never made me pleased. The floor is just not the best place to go about cooking–it is hardly sanitary.
I was thrilled to find this product–The Learning Tower–which solves the problem Kat was having with feeling unsafe standing up on a wobbly chair.
This really neat, sturdy, all-wood-construction piece of furniture is a uniquely designed step stool that completely encloses the kid so they feel secure. Not only do the -feel- secure, they are in fact secure, because the tower is very difficult to tip–I am sure it can be done, but I am pretty sure a kid can’t do it. It is made so kids can climb into it themselves, or be lifted in by a parent, and having fiddled with it, I can say with confidence that it is very, very stable. The platform that Kat stands on is adjustable in height so you can use it for short kids and tall kids, and it will grow along with your child. It is also easily put together (this is a big plus–I hate putting stuff together if the directions are badly written and there are lots of weird pieces–this thing was so easy I understood it) and it looks nice in the kitchen. We got ours in a black finish but you can also get it in various wood stains, or other colors of paint. (The black just looked really nice in our kitchen as you can see.)
There are only two drawbacks to The Learning Tower. The big one is its price–which is considerable, though I suspect that is because it is made of hardwood with high quality construction standards and has a satin-smooth finish with no rough spots. It is a quality piece of furniture which will last for years. The second drawback is its size–it takes up a pretty big chunk of kitchen real estate, but, that I think is part of why it is so sturdy and stable.
All in all, I am pleased with it and I have to say that Kat loves it, and we use it at least two times a day.
She helps us make scrambled eggs every day, and she has helped make dinner almost every night since her grandparents sent it to us for her birthday. She helped me mash potatoes by hand the other day and then lo and behold–ate them! She had always refused to try mashed potatoes until she actually helped make them.
On her birthday, we used it to make her cupcakes and today we baked cookies with it. (Look for a recipe for the cookies tomorrow.)
It is a great invention, one that I suspect a handy-man or woman could replicate with a good set of tools and some ingenuity.
I wish I had one when I was a kid–the step stools I stood one were pretty rickety and always made me wary when I helped out in the kitchen!
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