Cooking with your children offers a wide variety of opportunities to learn and grow!
As well as being heaps of fun, cooking with your children has so many benefits.
- It gives you the chance to introduce fresh healthy food into their diet.
- It helps them learn about how different foods look and where they come from.
- It helps them develop healthy eating habits because they’re more likely to try healthy food that they themselves have prepared.
- It prepares them for cooking for themselves or for the family as they get older.
- It helps build math skills – cooking involves a great deal of measurement.
Cooking or baking with your children is a great way to spend more time with them and to share and enjoy the responsibility of cooking for the entire family.
Cooking with Toddlers
Almost anything that involves toddlers involves time and patience. It is, therefore, a good idea to choose, short simple cooking tasks that match your toddler’s skills and attention span.
Cooking is a great sensory experience!
Cooking is such a good way to engage all of your toddler’s senses. Let them dig their clean hands into the dough. Let them smell and taste the ingredients you are using.
- Your toddler can help with washing of fruit and vegetables.
- Getting things from the fridge.
- Handing utensils to you.
- Stirring ingredients or tossing a salad.
Cooking with pre-schoolers
With pre- schoolers you can talk about which foods are healthy, where you get the foods from and how they are grown.
Cooking is science in action!
What happens when you heat up butter? What happens when you add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients? What happens when you add food to a frying pan of hot oil? Cooking allows your child to explore many fascinating interactions between different substances.
This is a good age to introduce recipes that involve building. This could include layering of lasagne, topping on a cake or making a sandwich with different layers or spooning yogurt over fruit and muesli.
Many more benefits of cooking with your child:
Cooking 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 colouring.
Cooking can improve 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.
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. Cooking also teaches kids various safety lessons such as not to touch a hot stove or how to use a knife correctly.
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 lunch together each week or turn Friday night into “make your own pizza night”, “build a burger night”, “create your own healthy wrap night”. Cooking together as a family brings everyone together and creates a bonding experience. Preparing meals together means quality time as a family. Cooking with children when they are young offers an opportunity to communicate with them on a regular basis. Your time chatting and cooking in the kitchen together becomes even more important as they reach the adolescent and teenage years.
Children are more likely to eat what they make
Is there anything more fun than eating your art project? Cooking creates a sense of ownership. When kids help in the kitchen there are fewer meal-time battles and more willingness to try new foods.
And last but not yeast, look for recipes together and let the fun begin!
The fondest memories are made when gathered around a table.
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