The Benefits of Cooking with Your Kids

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some of my best memories growing up involved the kitchen. I remember baking cookies with my mom, or helping my grandparents roll out fresh pasta. I loved the fact that the adults in my life were allowing me to help them create culinary masterpieces, and I loved the time and attention I got while helping in the kitchen.

Cooking with your kids has benefits that go beyond just teaching them how to cook. It is never too late or too EARLY to get your kids started with cooking! Toddlers are capable of much more than you might expect! My little Daniel is 20 months old and he helps me all the time! Here are some ways that your children can help you in the kitchen:
  • Young toddlers (1-2 years old) can add pre-measured ingredients, you can ask them to hand you ingredients or utensils, they can help you stir.
  • Preschoolers can help you measure ingredients, stir, crack eggs and more.
  • Children as young as 8 can follow a simple recipe.
Getting started with cooking with your kids is really easy. Help familiarize your children with your kitchen, show them where you keep everything, such as bowls, spoons, and measuring cups. Show your kids how to use different kitchen appliances such as the electric mixer or the food processor. Go over the recipe with them before getting started and show them the ingredients. When I was teaching, I used to use recipes that had pictures of the ingredients and each of the steps, for children who were too young to read. Here is a really good site for picture recipes- but you can also make your own:

Cooking has a whole load of benefits for kids. There are the obvious benefits, for example, your kids will learn to cook, and kids who cook are more likely to try new and different kinds of foods. Here are some other benefits of cooking with your kids:
  • It boosts self esteem by giving kids a sense of pride and accomplishment. When kids help create something, it makes them feel successful and makes them feel like they are contributing.
  • It helps build relationships between generations - your kids are spending time with important adults in their lives doing something fun.
  • It builds vocabulary - kids learn new words for different foods, ingredients, and utensils and more.
  • It teaches kids to follow directions.
  • It allows kids to express themselves creatively.
  • It teaches math - fractions, measurement, etc.
  • Kids who are cooking, are spending less time in front of the TV or computer.
  • Kids who cook at home eat less junk food
  • It teaches kids patience through waiting for the meal to finish cooking.
  • It teaches kids that it is ok to make mistakes because things don't always turn out the way we expect.
  • Kids who cook with their parents are less likely to do drugs, they are more likely to eat healthfully as adults, and they are learning skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.
When cooking with your kids, expect to go a little more slowly and a lot more cleanup, but also a whole lot of fun as well! Yes, it can be messy to cook with your kids, but this will also teach them the great skill of cleaning up messes and how to clean as you cook!

I would love to hear how you are cooking with your kids or any suggestions that you might have that I missed!

Until next time, happy cooking!!!


Amy said...

Dominic coos at me from his swing while I cook :).

frenchieliza said...

Too cute!

Sarahbear9789 said...

My parents taught me how to cook when I was little. I think that they enjoy that my older sister and I have cooked most of the food since we were 12.

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