7 Way Kids Learn From Cooking
A note from my mom: As our children get older, they are able to help out more around the house. They might even become eager to help out. One big (and sometimes exciting) way that kids can contribute to the household is by getting in the kitchen to cook. You might think that the main benefit of raising junior chefs is that it enables you to take a break from cooking every once in a while. You might even be like me and get excited about the idea of having your kids serve you breakfast in bed that actually tastes good. However, cooking can also be a very educational experience for kids.
This is probably the most obvious one. Whether they are measuring flour, counting eggs, sorting beans, or following the sequence of a recipe, math is a subject that figures heavily into cooking. Especially if you are baking and have to be more precise with your ingredients.
Breaking out the cookbooks and family recipes can be a great way to help your kids to improve their reading skills. Not only will it give them some practice with reading familiar words – it will also likely introduce them to a great deal of new vocabulary. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your kids were the only ones out of their friends who knows what it means to julienne potatoes or poach an egg? I know I’d be impressed.
Honestly, cooking is like a science experiment that you can eat. You do a lot of measuring, stirring, pouring, heating, watching, and experimenting with different ingredients to see what goes well together. You get excited about how a new recipe you try will turn out. You might also have some flops that you give the opportunity to troubleshoot until you get it just right.
I love trying foods from different parts of the world. I’m sure your kids will as well. Cooking can be a fantastic way to teach your children about other cultures. After all, one thing that every human on this planet has in common is that we all have to eat. The difference is that we all have access to different fruits, veggies, meats, and spices, so the foods that are common in one area might be exotic to someone from another area. There are also a wide variety of cooking methods that vary depending on where you live. You could make it a point to try out a recipe from another part of the world each month and take that opportunity to learn about that place, the people, and their culture.
Of course, getting your kids in the kitchen is a great way to open up a discussion about nutrition and healthy eating habits. You can teach them about how to prepare a balanced meal, about portion control, and the benefits of certain cooking methods over others (for example, roasting or baking meat rather than frying it).
Cooking is also a great way to develop fine motor skills. Think about it. We do a lot of cutting chopping, dicing, slicing, kneading, rolling, whisking, pouring, and stirring while we prep and cook our meals.
Aside from the fact that cooking is, in and of itself, a very important skill, it can also help teach your child a variety of other skills that will come in handy throughout their life. They will learn how to be a responsible member of the family. They will learn how to clean up (before and after cooking), as well as how to set a table for mealtime. They will learn how to be safe in the kitchen while handling various kitchen tools and the stove. They will learn how to follow directions. They will learn to try new things (really awesome if you have a picky eater). They will also learn the satisfaction of a job well done and how to appreciate when others cook for them. Above all, though, they will develop a sense of confidence in their abilities, which is what we all want for our children.
As you can see, there are a great number of benefits to having your child help you out in the kitchen. Now, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane to when you were a child. Do you remember the first time that you helped your parents (or caregivers) in the kitchen? Share your memory in the comments below.
The pictures are from my week long Kitchen Fundamentals For Kids cooking class at Sur la Table with Chef Adam and Chef Josh. It was a great five day experience that I suggest you try!