Being able to cook is a basic life skill that helps us survive, so it would only make sense that teaching children to cook would be just as important as children learning to read or write. Many parents don’t know when the appropriate time to introduce their little ones to the kitchen is and if you leave it too far we end up with University graduates leaving home with the inability to provide themselves with healthy meals.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TEACH CHILDREN TO COOK
Apart from the ability of children being able to feed themselves as adults, learning to cook can have other benefits.
Learning to cook is an essential life skill
Preparing a meal is a balance between art and science. Children who learn how to cook have to learn to follow instructions and have patience to complete the task at hand. It helps build up logical thought process of planning.
Learning to cook empowers kids to be more independent
Being able to cook means that a child can feed themselves, it’s that simple. When a child can take a few ingredients and turn them into a meal they feel responsible for what goes into their bodies. Cooking is a source of pride for the children who can take care of themselves in this way, or feed a friend or sibling. A child who can cook will rather make something healthy to eat instead of just finding a sugary snack in the cupboard.
Cooking is an outlet for creativity
Although it can get very messy cooking with children, it allows them to let their creative juices flow. Recipes can always be tweaked and that’s where the fun comes in. Allowing children to be creative in the kitchen allows them to explore different tastes and cooking methods. Allow children to mix recipes, or use optional ingredients. Being creative helps to improve problem solving skills.
Cooking encourages healthy eating
We all know that it is healthier to cook and eat at home. Teaching children about what good food is from the beginning helps to encourage healthy eating behaviours later in life. While cooking you can also teach them about healthy foods and ingredients and the functions that these foods have in the body.
They are more likely to eat what they’ve had a hand in preparing
Cooking introduces kids to a variety of fresh foods and interesting ways of preparing and cooking those ingredients. Children are more likely to eat something that they have had a part in making. If they can add ingredients they like it will lead to more of the food being eaten.
Cooking helps to teach school skills
Cooking teaches language skills by increasing children’s vocabulary with words such as simmer or roast. Cooking teaches children to follow instructions by following the recipe. Cooking can also encourage maths and science skills. Having to weigh out or count ingredients is a fun way to learn. Explaining how the heat changes the baking powder in the liquid dough to a solid matter of cake, well that sounds scientific to me.
HOW DO I TEACH MY CHILDREN TO COOK
- It’s not a chore, encourage helping with small enjoyable tasks at first and then increase responsibility.
- Accept that there will be a mess especially with the younger ones but then teach them how to clean up after
- Teach basic kitchen hygiene such as washing of hands
- Use regular kitchen utensils, no need to get kid friendly ones. Teach the correct handling of sharp instruments will increase safety in the kitchen
- Keep it age appropriate, a toddler can help mix a batter but maybe not ready to use sharp knife dicing vegetables
- Let your children choose the recipes
- Supervise until your child is old enough and confident enough to be alone in the kitchen.
- And most importantly HAVE FUN. It’s a great time to bond with your children and grow as a family
Teaching children can give them great life skills that will turn them into productive, healthy and independent adults. And, if your children can cook you can also sometimes get a break every so often from making dinner.