You remember how fun it was when you helped your grandparents bake cookies or pies for the holidays, right? Or when you helped your parents cook the turkey, stuffing, and the green bean casserole for Thanksgiving? You may not have realized it then, but as much fun as you were having, you were also learning valuable life skills at the same time. Maybe not that many life lessons when you were licking cookie batter off the spoon — but let's forget about that..
Introducing kids to cooking at a young age isn’t just fun, it’s beneficial to your little one’s growth and well-being. Here are 6 benefits of cooking with kids:
1. Cooking helps with language skills.
One of the best ways for children to learn is to be hands-on. Think about what's going on in the kitchen: touching, feeling, tasting, listening, reading and following instructions — the kitchen is the perfect classroom. You're in touch with so many learning styles. Cooking with your child also gives you the opportunity to teach a variety of subjects in a fun way. Reading recipes and explaining procedures can introduce your little one to new vocabulary. Asking them to describe what they're doing, what they taste, to read the recipe, reinforces comprehension and helps them make connections from written material to the physical act of cooking.
2. Children learn math and science skills by following recipes.
The act of following recipes gives children the opportunity to learn important math skills like number recognition, counting, adding, subtracting, and multiplication. Not only that, but recipes are nothing more than science experiments where children are able to watch liquids, solids, and gases (AKA ingredients) change color, texture, and form. You can use this time to ask your child to make predictions on what they think will happen if they use too much or too little of something. Or, if you set the wrong temperature on the stove or in the oven, ask them to share their observations on the end result. Unfortunately, this happens frequently. Wait, hang on...I actually need to grab these brownies before they burn..
3. Your little one will learn hand-eye coordination
Cooking involves the art of multitasking. If you’re following a recipe, you have to constantly refer to it while chopping, pouring and mixing ingredients, along with monitoring the stove, oven, and other cooking or baking appliances. It takes focus and concentration to make sure you don’t miss steps. Allowing kids to help with these tasks gives them a chance to work on their fine and gross motor skills in conjunction with focusing on the task-at-hand. This will help with hand-eye coordination so they can learn to use both their minds and bodies to seamlessly work together. Speaking from experience, this is a skill many adults could stand to improve, too!
4. Cooking together encourages open-mindedness
Does your child complain about what’s for dinner? Tired of hearing, “Yuck! I’m not eating that!” Cooking is one of the best ways to encourage your child to be a more adventurous eater. It gives them the chance to try different ingredients they may not otherwise try at the table. By allowing them to be part of the process, you can introduce them to a variety of recipes from different regions and cultures, which gives them a better sense and appreciation for what went into making it and what makes it special to those from different parts of the world.
Of course, your child will also learn to appreciate all of the effort you put into each meal and will give them a sense of pride when the family sits down to eat the meal they helped prepare. The younger your kids are when they start cooking with you, the better. Keep in mind, these results may not be immediate. But eventually, your kids will learn to have a more open mind when it comes to different kinds of food and all that goes into making a good meal.
5. Making meals together encourages teamwork and patience
If you have an impatient child, asking them to cook with you will help them learn the value of teamwork. It also encourages them to practice patience. After all, it takes time to prepare a meal. This is a good time to remind your little ones that with a little patience comes delicious rewards! And because you worked on it together, they learned the value of asking for help along the way.
6. Promote healthy eating through cooking
As easy as it can be to introduce your child to sweets through baking, it’s just as easy to introduce her to healthy eating through making delicious and healthy meals together. Cooking at home rather than dining out on a regular basis leads to happier and healthier children, as they tend to eat less sugar and processed foods. The younger your child is when you start this habit, the better chance she takes the lessons she’s learned about healthy eating into adulthood.
Ready to get into the kitchen? Explore virtual cooking classes now!