Schools are closed, and we are all responsibly practicing social distancing, right? Whether you’re trying to keep your kids occupied or trying to continue their education at home, cooking with your kids offers a wide variety of opportunities to learn and grow. Stirring, measuring, rolling out -- these cooking tasks help kids develop necessary academic, cognitive, and motor skills. And let’s face it, it might make cooking messier, but it’s just plain fun! While you’re just having fun, you are also preparing them for success in school and in life. Cooking with kids helps with many things including the following:
- Increases Language Development -- As you cook, you are naming ingredients which increases a child’s vocabulary. Kids also have to follow directions; which enhances receptive language skills. While cooking, explain each step, and have your child describe what they are doing for even greater language development. For more advanced learning, have them predict what will happen next or guess what the next ingredient would be.
- Enhances Fine Motor Skills -- Mixing the ingredients, rolling the dough, and using cookie cutters are all great ways to enhance a child’s fine motor strength and control. These are skills needed to develop academic skills such as writing, cutting, and coloring. Help improve these skills even more by allowing them to slowly pour ingredients into a bowl or quickly mix ingredients together. For older children, let them help flip the pancakes.
- Increases Math Ability -- Cooking involves a lot of measurement. Kids learn various measurements such as cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. They also learn to understand fractions as well as utilize addition and subtraction skills.
- Improves Reading Skills -- When cooking with your children, have them read the recipes. For the younger kids, start with the numbers such as “2” cups of flour and “4” tablespoons of butter. For older kids, have them read each step; then follow the directions. This also helps enhance reading comprehension.
- Introduces Kids to Scientific Concepts -- Cooking involves a great deal of science. Kids learn what happens when certain ingredients are mixed together; as well as what happens when the measurements are incorrect.
- Increases Focus and Attention -- When cooking, kids need to stay focused and pay attention to each detail or the recipe will not be completed correctly. If a student misses a step, the final product will not turn out correctly. Kids learn quickly that they have to pay attention if they want to eat that brownie or cookie at the end!
- Teaches Life Skills -- Cooking is a skill that is needed to be an independent adult. Kids can learn early on how to make their own sandwich, pour milk, or heat something in the microwave. Older kids can learn to cook meals for themselves and the family. This will allow them to be more independent and responsible individuals. Cooking also teaches kids various safety lessons such as not to touch a hot stove or how to use a knife correctly.
- Promotes Healthy Eating -- Allowing kids to cook helps them learn what foods are healthy and what are not. It allows them to try new food that they may have not tried otherwise. It encourages them to eat at home instead of out which can often provide unhealthy options.
- Boosts Self-Confidence -- When a child is able to successfully complete a recipe and make a meal, they feel a sense of pride and confidence. In addition, as kids cook more, their level of independence increases which in turn boosts their level of self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Encourages Family Bonding -- Cooking is a task that the entire family can enjoy! Make it a routine to cook Sunday dinner together each week or turn Friday night into “make-your-own-pizza” night. Cooking together as a family brings everyone together and creates a bonding experience.
Cooking as a family can help develop happy, adventurous eaters with some pretty valuable life skills and plenty of happy memories in the kitchen. With enough practice, your child or children will someday be able to cook you a delicious meal! Many of the recipes on our website would be ideal for cooking with kids; however, there are also some great sites out there to give you ideas for kid-friendly recipes.