We all know the benefits of sitting down to a meal together as a family, but what about the benefits of cooking as a family, especially for the kids? Besides the quality time you can spend together, there are a number of reasons why getting kids interested in cooking can help them learn and explore.
First, cooking teaches kids real skills they can use in the classroom, like math and chemistry. Cooking teaches kids everything from fractions (ask them if a 1/2 cup bigger than a 1/4 cup?) to temperatures (learning about what makes broiling hotter than baking) and even geometry (finding the different size pans). And if you want to get them into baking, chemistry comes into play big time since baking is a more precise process. Instead of just requiring foods to be cooked, baking depends upon a number of different chemical reactions in order to be successful. If the correct ingredients are not combined, or if they aren't in the right proportions, the end product simply will not turn out correctly. Because of the precise nature of baking, it's a great way to teach children some basic chemistry principles.
Kids who cook are also more willing to try new foods, and they are more likely to try something they have made themselves. They might not eat all of it, but there will definitely be more willing to try something they have created themselves. Cooking also builds self esteem when kids can say "I made this myself". Helping to cook a meal for the family can give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, and can make them feel like they are truly contributing.
Reading skills also come into play with following recipes, and learning how to follow step by step instructions is a valuable skill for kids. Following the instructions step by step to get to the desired end result can show kids that reading has very practical benefits.
Cooking teaches kids reading skills.We read to learn, and cooking is one of the best ways to show kids that reading offers tangible results. Following step-by-step instructions to get to a finished result is an important reading skill, and using that skill to cook shows kids that reading has very practical benefits.
Cooking is a great way for kids to learn about where their food comes from, and what the process is to get it from farm to store to table, rather than just getting served a meal on a plate. They can learn about how things are grown, how things are made, how things get to the store and how different foods grow at different times of year, in different parts of the country or world, and the importance of supporting farming and eating local. Cooking is also a great opportunity to teach kids about healthy foods, why eating healthy foods and making healthy choices is important to our overall health and well being.
Kids can also explore different cultures and expand their horizons from trying new food from different countries that they might never have had before. Turn a family dinner into a cultural lesson about the country that dish came from, and how their favorite dishes might be different from ours.
And finally, teaching kids how to cook gives them an important lifelong skill. Teaching them the tools early on for how to cook for themselves and especially how to make healthy eating choices is something they will build on for the rest of their lives.
Healthy Living Market and Cafe has some great kids summer camps happening this July and August all about cooking and exploring new flavors and foods. Click here for more info. (ps Jack's cute apron? From here.)