There are so many amazing benefits of cooking with children. It is a fun activity and in addition, it is also a wonderful learning opportunity.
At preschool, we try and have as many cooking experiences as possible and the children absolutely love it. We usually find that there is never enough space for everybody around the cooking table. The children are always so excited and eager to be involved in cooking activities so we always need to make sure that everyone who wants to gets to have a turn.
Benefits Of Cooking With Children
Great Opportunity For Spending Time Together
You don’t need to set up a big complicated cooking experience for your kids. Indeed, just try and cook with them as part of your everyday routine. So invite them into the kitchen as often as you can when they are young because believe me you’ll be begging them to come into the kitchen and help when they hit the teenage years.
Kids love to watch grown-ups during meal prep time. I know it was one of my favorite things to do when I was little. While they are in the kitchen with you it’s a perfect time to chat with them about their day. Furthermore, it’s a great opportunity to discuss important things like nutrition and healthy eating. Show them what you are mixing, cutting, or cooking. Explain to them what is happening inside those delicious-smelling pots and pans.
You can assign your kids simple tasks that they will be able to do safely like peeling or mixing. Anything that will make them feel like they are helping. I know of a mum who would give her child the task of picking out the seeds from the capsicum. What a perfect fine motor activity!! Any time you are able to spend with your child in the kitchen is time well spent.
Cooking Benefits Children’s Literacy Skills
Cooking experiences are wonderful for showing young kids pre-reading concepts. You could most definitely say that cooking and literacy go together.
Begin by writing out a shopping list together. As you write your shopping list you can name the items you are jotting down. By doing this your kids will be able to see the purpose of writing.
Older children who are independent and enthusiastic writers will be more than happy to write or copy their own list. Once you hit the supermarket you could ask your children to mark off the things on the list as they go into the shopping trolley.
There are plenty of simple and fun recipes designed for children in the kitchen. You can find these quite easily in cookbooks or online. So go ahead and ask your kids to look for a recipe that they would like to follow.
By following a recipe when you cook with your child they will be able to appreciate that literacy is essential and helpful for normal everyday life. In addition, reading a recipe together will help them to see and understand the concept of following instructions in a sequence.
Cooking with children is also a fantastic way to expose them to interesting words. Think of all those unusual names for ingredients and equipment found in the kitchen. If you ask your kids to describe what they are doing as they help you cook this will also increase their vocabulary.
You can discuss the process of what it is you are both doing in the kitchen as you are cooking. For example, you could talk to your child about what they are peeling, cutting, or mixing.
Cooking Benefits Children’s Fine Motor Skills
Preparing food with your child in the kitchen encourages their fine motor development. Children grasp, use tools and participate in tasks that require them to use bilateral coordination when they are busy helping you with cooking.
To get your child to work their fine motor muscles you can
- Give them a potato peeler to peel a carrot.
- Use a rolling pin to roll out dough
- Give them children’s scissors to cut ingredients like herbs.
- Use a safe knife to chop soft ingredients
Cooking Helps With Basic Maths Concepts
One of the benefits of cooking with children is the opportunity to look at early maths concepts. Children can count the number of ingredients that are in the recipe. They can also count out how many of each ingredient they need. For example, ask them to count how many strawberries they need to add to a fruit salad. Children can also count aloud how many cups or teaspoons they are adding as they go.
Weighing and Measuring
Cooking is a great chance to increase the use of language around weight and measurement. You can discuss things like
- What is heavy and what is light,
- The size of the ingredients being used
- How much of something is needed.
Cooking is also a great way to introduce young children to the concept of time. You need to use timers when baking. Recipes will also ask for ingredients to be mixed for a certain amount of time. All of these instructions help children to understand what a period of time actually is.
Cooking With Children Promotes Healthy Eating
When you involve young children in the kitchen this will promote a positive lifelong habit. Cooking with your child teaches them about how to live a healthy lifestyle and learn about nutrition and healthy food choices.
Children can sometimes be fussy eaters and may be reluctant to try new foods. Cooking with children encourages them to be adventurous enough to taste new foods that they might otherwise reject if it was just served to them on a plate.
Bring The Kids Into The Kitchen
With so many benefits of cooking with children, why not go ahead and start now! You could begin by trying this Jam Drops recipe or this simple playdough recipe is really great too. We make this with the kids at preschool very often. It’s easy and the best part is that the children can play with it as soon as it’s cooled down.