Cooking with kids is actually a diverse subject. It’s simple and yet it can be so complicated, as each age brings with it a new interest and a new level of discovery and ability. Here are some excellent tips from a very experienced mom who cooks with kids in the kitchen for a living!
Here are some benefits of cooking with kids:
- Children who cook learn a life skill. I always tell my kids, “If you like to eat, eventually you need to know how to cook just a little bit, and cooking can be simple & fun!”
- The more children experiment with recipes and food, the more they taste which ultimately helps them find foods they like and can promote making healthier choices. I have found that through recipe experimentation, we have found ways to eat foods we won’t necessarily eat alone.
- When families cook, children learn the value of the family unit working together.
- When you cook with your children you spend time together and create memories.
- And one of my personal favorites with teens in the house – as you cook with your children over prolonged periods of time, some day you will be able to confidently ask them to start dinner!
Interest Level Might Vary from Child to Child
One of the most important lessons that my children taught me when they were young is to let them lead the process with their interest level. Some will want to participate in the entire process, while others will want to simply pour in one ingredient and be finished. If you have a child that wants to help from start to finish – great! But if you have the ‘one ingredient child’, don’t stress it. Thank them for their effort and let them be done. Over time, your child’s attention span will expand and grow as he/she does.
Planning Ahead Is Important
I have found that having ingredients lined up and ready, can be helpful for children who are young or have shorter attention spans. An easy no-bake option for these little kitchen helpers can be something as simple as making trail mix.
The Art of Distraction for Younger Helpers
For the younger children who want to help with a recipe from A to Z, there are sometimes steps they cannot do. So I have learned the importance of tactical parenting such as ‘the art of distraction.’ When my children were younger, I would give them a plastic knife and soft fruit to cut when faced with this dilemma. They felt like they were still part of the process and the task promoted motor skill development and independence, allowing me to finish the steps they couldn’t do.
ALWAYS establish family safety rules as it pertains to the kitchen. Obviously these will change throughout the years, but well established perimeters of drawers, gadgets and appliances are always helpful, especially for those who are being raised in an experimental kitchen. I have had to get specific, because when there is a sitter in the house, I have come home to one or more surprises in the kitchen over the years.
Gadgets and Gizmos Make it Fun!
We have a fair amount of fun gadgets and gizmos and I love them just as much as my children. Not only do they create an added memory to the cooking experience, they can actually spark a child’s interest and participation.
Games and Skills
Cooking is not just about the outcome of food. If you step back and objectively look at how to harness the entire energy of this activity, you will find that it provides an opportunity to develop organizational skills, further mathematical skills and time keeping, encourage reading and comprehension, along with so much more!
Whatever your child’s level, whatever the interest, no matter what the recipe….enjoy the time!
This post is linking up at Teachers of Good Things