I believe a love of literacy is an invaluable tool to share with children. I believe that cooking with children is also an invaluable tool. So as a children’s author, mother, and cooking enthusiast, it seemed only natural to combine both stories and recipes in one of my books. We all know that raising children is a difficult task at best, but raising children who grow up to be well adjusted, compassionate, intelligent adults who are a beneficial part of society is even more difficult. But believe it or not, cooking can help!
So here are ten reasons why cooking with children matters.
1. Quality Bonding Time: Cooking with children means time spent with them, and time spent with them, working together on a common goal such as chocolate chip cookies, means bonding. Bonding with another human being gives children a much needed connection and helps them to begin to form important emotional qualities like trust.
2. Memory Making: Cooking with children means making memories, and memories are the strings that bind children to their past and give them hope for the future. Good memories are the things that keep us going when times get hard, help us to forge ahead when we have lost loved ones, and help us form the story of our life.
3. Honed Math Skills: Cooking with children can help them hone their math skills. Many children ask why they have to learn math, or they comment on how they don’t think they will ever use math when they grow up. I remember thinking the same thing when I was a child. But math is an integral part of cooking since measuring cups and spoons are all fractional and because sometimes all that’s needed is a half of a recipe and sometimes a double batch of something is required.
4. Broadened Pallets: Cooking with children broadens their pallet. Kids are more likely to try and to eat foods that they have prepared or helped prepare. If they have invested time in making a recipe, they will probably want to taste test. This is a good way to get children to try new fruits and vegetables.
5. Improved Self-Esteem: Cooking with children helps them to improve their self-esteem. When children accomplish tasks they begin to understand that they are capable and they feel confident. And when they see that a meal they helped prepare is being enjoyed by others, their confidence soars to even greater heights.
6. Improved Reading Skills: Cooking with children helps them to improve their reading skills as well as improving their direction following skills. Recipes are tricky creatures and for the product to turn out well directions must be followed and must be implemented in the proper order. Reading recipes offers children the opportunity to learn new vocabulary and to ask questions like, “Why do we mix the butter, eggs, and sugar before adding the flour?”
7. Cultural Diversity and Creativity: Cooking with children offers an opportunity for them to learn about other cultures as well as the chance to be creative. There are many delicious dishes from around the world to choose from, and cooking a dish from another country helps children become aware of the world as a whole with all its similarities and differences. Cooking also allows a child to be creative with garnishes, plating, ingredient substitutions, decorations, and so much more.
8. Practice Makes Perfect: Cooking with children is a great way to help them learn first-hand that age old adage, practice makes perfect. Letting children help in the kitchen allows them to make mistakes and learn from them. It allows them to see that not every baking attempt turns out the way they imagine it will the first time, but that with continued effort, their dishes will improve. And as with all things in life where practice is involved, they will learn that cooking becomes easier as time goes by.
9. Time Management Skills: Cooking with children helps them to learn time management skills. Gathering ingredients, preparing the recipe, and clean up all takes time. Cooking gives children the ability to learn how to make the most of the time they have. For example, washing utensils and bowls as they go means less tedious clean up at the end. Similarly, gathering all ingredients before beginning allows the child to determine if they have all needed supplies or if a trip to the store is necessary.
10. Responsibility: Cooking with children instills the concept of responsibility. Children who are cooking or helping to cook will see that there is more to cooking then the beautiful and delicious meal that miraculously shows up on the dinner table every night. They will learn that thought about what will be prepared, actual preparation, and clean up all have to happen before eating and enjoyment can occur. In addition, the time and effort put into cooking will give them a greater appreciation of just what others do for them on a regular basis.