Who says cooking isn’t for kids? Several efforts have been made to encourage children to participate in the kitchen, from kid-friendly cookbooks to national cooking competitions designed specifically for kids.
Here’s why teaching kids how to cook is a good idea.
To Teach Them Nutritional Balance
When kids get involved in the meal preparation processes, they get direct insight into the kinds and quantities of ingredients used. This helps them learn the nutritional value of those ingredients and realise why certain foods are healthier than others. It also enables them to learn how to incorporate those ingredients into dishes in various ways.
For instance, you can teach your child the nutritional importance of seasonal fruits and show them multiple ways to include those in recipes. Your child will learn how fruit chunks compare to pureed fruit and will be able to determine when to choose which option. They’ll also be more aware of the nutrients in their food and can better understand why what they’ve prepared may (or may not) be deemed a healthier option than other items.
To Encourage Them to Try Different Foods
Let’s be honest; kids tend to be fussy eaters. If your child refuses to eat their veggies or only eats a handful of food items, you might consider getting them involved in cooking.
Even the pickiest of eaters will be willing to try a new food if they’re the ones preparing it. This may take a couple of cooking experiments, but gradually, they’ll come around. For instance, have your eight-year-old peel peas one day. The next day, show them how to mash or puree peas. Encourage them to try what they’ve helped make to taste their creations. This can soften them to the idea of consuming peas, an item they’ve previously refused at mealtimes. The more fun the recipe is and the more your child participates in recreating it, the more likely they are to eat it.
To Facilitate Learning
Cooking is also a great opportunity for kids to polish their comprehension and cognitive abilities. Reading recipes boosts children’s comprehension skills, helping them learn how to follow step-by-step instructions. It also teaches them the importance of following guidelines, showing them the process can lead to tangible results.
Additionally, following a recipe is also a great way for your child to improve their math. Cooking involves various measurements and specifications to get the desired results. You can use this opportunity to help them understand mathematical concepts such as fractions, addition and subtraction, and the metrics used in assessing time.
Similarly, cooking demonstrates several scientific principles. It’s a fun and innovative way for children to learn chemistry and biology concepts. Cooking also boosts children’s motor skills. When they participate in activities such as stirring batters, mixing ingredients, and cutting cookies, they get the chance to hone their fine motor skills.
To Boost Creativity & Independence
Cooking is an immensely creative process. Just because you’re following a recipe doesn’t mean you don’t have room for improvisation and innovation. At the end of the day, cooking with kids is all about creating food they’d enjoy preparing and eating. Let your child take control and watch them unleash their creativity and independence.
From agreeing to their choice of pizza toppings and salad components to using their preferred cooking utensils, there are several ways to encourage your child to assert their independence in the kitchen. Don’t dismiss their suggestions. Instead, see how you can push them to build onto that and be even more creative. As they learn a particular skill, let them execute it by themselves to allow more room for creativity and independence. You’ll be surprised to know what your child is capable of once they put their mind to it.
To Make Memories Together
Finally, teaching your child how to cook is the perfect way to spend quality time together. Remember, the idea is to have fun. Make the different cooking processes as exciting and innovative as possible to make some great memories with your child. You’ll both look back at your time in the kitchen fondly and recall the fun you had together.
Yes, things will get messy at times, and there may be a couple of safety concerns you’ll need to watch out for. However, don’t let those deter you. Appreciate the moments you share with your child in the kitchen and make the most of the experience.
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