Most of us remember helping our parents bake cookies and make dinner as a child. But did you realize you were learning skills such as counting, measuring, and reading recipes?
Inviting your children to help out in the kitchen or make meals on their own can help them gain confidence and skills naturally in the kitchen. Cooking together can also help your family commit to healthy habits that will benefit you for a lifetime.
Skills and healthy habits you children can learn by cooking
Here are seven skills that your children can develop when they help out in the kitchen:
Explore their senses. Invite your children, especially the younger ones, to experience the action in the kitchen. If you’re baking bread, for example, you can engage their senses by making them listen to the whirring of the mixer, have them pound dough and watch it rise, smell it baking in the oven, and taste the warm, fresh bread straight from the oven.
If the bread smells good, looks appealing and is easy to eat, your kids may just be willing to try it! If they see you enjoying the process of preparing healthy meals, it will help them see cooking as a fun activity and not a chore.
Processed foods may be convenient and readily available, but when your kids see you make time to prepare a quick, healthy meal instead of something fast, it can help strengthen the behavior as they grow, and they will start making healthier food choices on their own.
Expand their palate. If your children are picky eaters, bringing them into the kitchen to help with cooking will introduce them to new foods and flavors. If you want to introduce new foods to your child, we recommend adding only one new food at a time, along with something that your child really likes. You may also consider introducing healthy recipes from different countries and cultures to expand your child’s palate as well as his or her world views.
Making healthy food choices. An excellent opportunity to explain smart and healthy food choices to your kids is by planning a menu or grocery list together. You can talk to your child about different food groups and encourage him or her to try new foods that belong to each group. Kids who helped in making the vegetables may feel a little more willing to give it a try when they sit down to the dinner table.
Responsibility. Helping in the kitchen offers plentiful opportunities for your children or teens to learn responsibility. Simple tasks like following an easy recipe, learning how to handle kitchen equipment safely, cleaning up spills, and putting things away, can all teach your child a sense of responsibility.
Sharing good conversation. Share family stories and recipes with your child or teen. Or try asking questions about their food choices, school, friends, and other activities. When you develop these kinds of conversations while preparing dinner not only teaches your child how to carry on a thoughtful conversation but also enhances your relationship.
Basic skills in math, language, and science. Your kids gain new science, language, and math skills as they crack eggs and stir sauce. Basic math skills like counting (eggs) and sequencing (“what do we do first?”) can lead to learning fractions (is this 1/2 of a cup?)
as your child gains confidence in the kitchen.
Reading recipes develops reading comprehension, while something as simple as sprinkling salt on an ice cube can demonstrate basic science principles.>
Age-appropriate kitchen tasks
3-5 years old
There are a few tasks in the kitchen that are particularly well-suited to preschoolers. The key is to assign them tasks they enjoy and meet their skill level. Make sure not to plan an elaborate project as your kids might only want to spend five to 10 minutes on an activity. Start small, and remember to keep it fun.
Some of the ways that your preschooler can help include stirring pancake batter, tearing lettuce for the salad, adding the ingredients, assembling a pizza, and turning the pages of a cookbook you are reading.
6-13 years old
By the time your kids are in school, they already have the coordination to complete many simple kitchen tasks. This can include mashing potatoes or bananas, peeling apples (make sure to use a peeler instead of a knife), sifting and stirring ingredients, spooning batter into the pan, kneading and rolling dough, using cookie cutters, and spreading on toppings like grated cheese.
Older school-age kids are more likely up for a bigger challenge. Allow them to take the lead on selecting and preparing a more involved, healthy dish. Start by letting them make a grocery list. Be their assistant in the kitchen when they need one, and be there to supervise if your child needs instructions in using any unfamiliar cooking equipment. Closely monitor or take over any task that will require the use of the stove, oven, or knives. And don’t forget to give your child compliments when you taste the finished product. After creating one solo dish, your child might be interested in taking on an entire meal or some other cooking challenge.
Interested in Enrolling Your Child in A Cooking Summer Camp?
Junior Chef San Diego’s cooking summer camp aims to develop self-sufficiency and healthy lifestyles in children aged 4 to 16. Learning to cook allows children to participate in a vital household, and it is a valuable, lifelong skill that they will need as they grow.
The cooking summer camp can help boost your kids’ confidence, expose them to different cultures, unlock their creativity, and make them feel empowered as they and other people enjoy the meal that they prepared. The cooking camp is an excellent opportunity for your child to develop new skills and be a better version of themselves.
To know more about the cooking summer camp and other cooking activities offered by Junior Chef San Diego, call us today at (858) 888-5071 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.