- The Benefits of Cooking with Kids; and
- Tips for Getting Kids Involved in Cooking
The Benefits of Cooking with Kids
1. Cooking Creates Bonding Time and Makes Memories
Cooking is a great activity that frees us from the distraction of all things technology (reading recipes online doesn’t count ;)) and allows us to focus on teamwork and creating something together.
Looking back, what are your memories of cooking with your family? How might you include some of your childhood traditions with your children or make new ones?
2. It Encourages Healthy Eating
When Little Miss cooks with me it is almost a 100% guarantee that she will test ingredients as we cook and at least try the finished product, if not beg for more. There is something about investing time and work into a project that makes one to want to experience their finished product!
3. It Develops Cooking Skills
Knowing how to cook is not only practical, but will ultimately save you time in the future when your little sous chef becomes the master! Growing up in a family of seven meant that everyone had to pitch in. I still remember trying to figure what I wanted to create for my dinner day of the week. This not only helped us to hone our culinary skills, but also gave us some say in what we ate and taught us responsibility.
4. It Builds Confidence and Concentration
There is something both satisfying and confidence-building about being able to create things. You’ll see that look on your little ones’ faces as they pour milk into the bowl or crack their first egg.
Watch your little yogis as they focus all their mental energy on one task, such as chopping up carrots carefully or helping you level off the flour.
5. It Develops Fine Motor Skills
Cooking requires precise movements with your hands and as your little ones perform different tasks they will also be strengthening their fine motor skills.
6. And It Even Teaches Math
I’ll never forgot the first time that Little Miss started counting aloud. I was counting the eggs as I was breaking them into a bowl. I said “One” and she immediately piped in with “Two” before I could. I was amazed and thought I must have misheard her so I said it again and sure enough she said two again, this time with a look of serious accomplishment on her face.
Cooking is full of math, from plain old counting up through fractions, multiplying, and dividing.
Tips for Getting Kids Involved in Cooking
1. Go in with the Right Mindset
Set aside plenty of time for your cooking project and have the expectation that it is going to be messy. Think of it as an art sensory project that involves tasting and therapeutic smearing of food everywhere 😉
2. But Don’t Go in with a Hangry Kid (especially important for little ones)
I’ve found that having a well-fed kid or providing a snack during cooking projects equals a much happier and engaged kid.
3. Location is Everything
Find a safe spot for your little one to sit or stand so they can see what’s going on and join in easily. As you’ve probably noticed from pictures, Little Miss is a total counter kid (giving grandparents heart attacks :)) and, depending on the task, will also stand on a stable chair or a stool.
If you’re fancy, check out this link for an awesome kitchen helper stool.
3. Provide Them with Their Own Kitchen Tools and Containers for Exploration
Have a few containers and cooking spoons that are just for your little one to play with. Sometimes I’ll put little bits of the ingredients in the containers so Little Miss can feel, transfer, taste and play with them while I perform the more complex directions. This keeps them engaged without endangering themselves or your recipe during certain delicate steps.
4. Engage Them in the Cooking Process
At two, Little Miss loves stirring, mixing, cutting (using Curious Chef Knives and mom’s assistance) pouring ingredients into bowls, and tasting. You will have a better idea of what your little one is capable of doing, but don’t be shy about giving them a shot at different tasks, they will surprise you and you will love seeing their proud smiles!
5. Have Fun!
The most important part of the process is to remember that this is an activity for you and your little one to have fun with. Don’t worry if the finished product doesn’t look like the picture! Take a quick look at some Pinterest “Nailed It” pictures (it could always be way worse!) and savor the time you are spending with your little ones and the lessons you are both learning.