My son is just a year old, but already showing signs of wanting to help in the kitchen. And there are some things I do allow him to help with, such as putting dishes away and so much more that I want to build on as he grows up. Below is a list of important reasons to teach your child to cook. I hope it leaves you inspired to have fun with your child or children in the kitchen!
Learn About Nutrition. Helping your child learn to make healthy food choices for himself early on in life, will aid him in taking care of his own body. Start with basic concepts that can be understood given your child’s age level. Have fun learning about what the differences are between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats as well as which foods belong to which category and what constitutes a daily serving of each for your child.
Learn About Food Safety. Teach your child how to properly store food. What temperature is best for which foods? What internal temperature do particular meats need to reach until they are cooked through and safe to eat? Consider any allergies in your family and circle of friends. How might certain foods need to be prepared in order to accommodate any particular needs? Why is this important? What might happen if food is not prepared properly? Discuss all of these points with your child.
Practice Reading, Vocabulary & Reading Comprehension. Recipes and Cookbooks are great opportunities to get your child reading! It’s also a great way to build upon your child’s ever growing vocabulary and reading comprehension skills! While you are at it, if you don’t have one already, create a recipe book with your child of all your favorite family recipes and add to it as you find new ones!
Provide Opportunity to Follow Instructions. Most kids need practice on following instructions and the kitchen provides a great place for just that purpose. Skipping a step or perhaps swapping an ingredient may lead to undesired results!
Build Math Skills. Get your child thinking on his feet. Practice measurements, conversions and ratios. How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? How do you convert a recipe to the metric system and vice versa? How many calories are in a serving? How many grams are there of protein, carbohydrates, and fats?
Build Science Skills. Short of the science lab, there’s probably no better place than the kitchen for science experiments. Chemistry and physics come to life right before your child’s eyes. It provides opportunities to learn about food pairings, flash freezing and so much more. Check out this cool video on Molecular Gastronomy. I definitely learned a few things while watching it!
Enhance Fine Motor Skills. Sure your child might not be able to use a knife just yet, but don’t let that stop you from getting him in the kitchen! There are tons of ways to build on fine motor skills in the kitchen such as: filling measure cups, pouring, sifting, zesting, using a rolling pin, whisking, using a spatula, using cookie cutters, icing tools and so much more!
Learn Where Food Comes From. Perhaps your child knows that food comes from the grocery store already, but what about before it gets there? Take a field trip and visit a farm to see the animals and crops. Start your own garden. Visit a bakery to learn about making fresh bread and other sweet treats. Learn about commercial fishing. Learning about where food comes from will give your child an appreciation for it to last a lifetime.
Educate on Culture. Food and Culture go hand-in-hand. Teach your child about your own family culture and customs using food. Also, brand out and learn about new cultures together. How to others around the world celebrate with food? When you are traveling together, make a point to try the local dishes with your child and discuss them. You can also have fun recreating the dishes at home.
Curb Picky Eating. Picky eating doesn’t stand a chance if your child takes the opportunity to help in the kitchen! Get your child involved in the process and watch him enjoy trying new foods.
Expand Creativity. Let your child’s imagination take over the kitchen! Talk about what he might like to create and then set about making that happen. You are sure to be in for a few surprises and a good laugh!
Build Confidence. Your child will take pride in his creations in the kitchen. Get ready to see his little face beaming as he says “I made it!” Cooking in the kitchen also has long-term benefits as your child learns this important life skill.
Encourage Autonomy. As the years go by, your child will need to know how to care for himself. This includes cooking. While he may not be able to do everything by himself at the moment, start small. You might begin to get him ready to prepare his own snack if he is little. If he is older, perhaps he could start planning and preparing his own healthy breakfasts for the week.
Spend Quality Time Together. It doesn’t get any better than this. Spending time with your child and creating memories are what it’s all about. The loving moments you share will bring warm memories for years to come. Long after your child has left the house. I may be old-fashioned, but I am holding onto special kitchen items to pass onto my son. What might you pass on? An antique serving platter? A special set of measuring cups and spoons? Cutting Board? Recipe Book?
What other reasons would you add? Share them with me!