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Cooking with your child will be a great experience for them – fun, educational, and an adventure, which can draw you both closer. A bit of preparation will positively contribute to your child helping you prepare snacks or a family meal.

Cooking with Kids

 

Overall Benefits

A Sharing Time

Teaching kids to cook also presents opportunities to talk about culture, family history, nutrition, food politics, and hunger. Depending on your child’s age, consider sprinkling your lessons with gentle forays into these deeper waters, avoiding heavy-handed moralizing but introducing your kids to some of the broader issues surrounding food. You’re not just educating a future cook; you’re influencing a lifelong eater.

Parents get something out of this kitchen togetherness, too. First, there’s the quality time you’ll share. Then there’s the pleasure of sitting down at the table together to enjoy what you’ve whipped up.

Other benefits are:

  • Helps a picky eater

Your child is sometimes more likely to try something when cooking that they have not had before. My daughter hated nuts, until I dipped them in sugar while cooking.

  • Introduces new foods

Sometimes a food tasted right out of a container is different than if it is in a food. “Mushy mushrooms” are crispy when freshly sliced for a salad.

  • Builds self-confidence

If you start with tasks and recipes easily accomplished, you can provide your child a successful cooking experience, which makes them feel good about themselves.

 

Be Prepared

Choose the Right Time

You don’t want your first cooking experience with your child to be when you are rushed and stressed-out. Make sure you choose a late weekend breakfast or afternoon snack. Keep the mood fun-filled. You are not filming a cooking show or food commercial. Relax and enjoy the experience. Laugh and maybe “play” a little – whip cream on the nose?

To decrease your nervousness, consider having another adult nearby. Also, consider some breaks during the cooking time for both of you to catch your breath. If your children are young, make sure you choose a time when they are rested.

Choose the Right Tools and Tasks

Plan ahead. Consider starting with simple recipes with fewer than five ingredients. After you choose a recipe, decide which steps your child can do independently. In addition, make sure all the utensils are out – extras help, especially if there is a great deal of mixing involved.

Some pre-preparation may be advisable. Washing fresh fruits and vegetables, placing the ingredients on the counter, chopping ingredients if your child is too young to use a sharp knife, can all make your cooking experience easier and safer.

Stress Safety

Children need supervision because cooking can be dangerous. Sharp, hot, whirring, beating – the adjectives and verbs associated with cooking sound dangerous. Preschoolers, especially, must be taught not to touch items that can hurt them.

Talk to your youthful helper about good kitchen safety habits, including frequent hand washing.

Cooking with Your Preschooler

Preschoolers develop dexterity and learn to define, use, and develop their five senses. It takes manual dexterity to crack eggs or knead dough. And one of the best parts of cooking is tasting! Even your older toddler can watch what you are doing, possibly stir cold ingredients, and help set the table.

Cooking with Your School-age Child

There are many educational benefits associated with cooking. Cooking teaches vocabulary and terminology often appearing on standardized test. Following directions and math skills are also strengthened. A recipe is a set of directions that must be followed if the dish is to turn out edible. In addition, many recipes use fractions (1/2 cup, ¼ teaspoon), as well as weights and measures (1 lb. hamburger, 8 ounces tomato juice). Combining ingredients enforces math skills. Your child can also learn about nutrition when you explain why some ingredients are healthier than others are.

Cooking with Your Teen

Your teenager might need a bit more coaxing initially. However, it won’t be long until they need to know how to provide their own meals. You can probably get their cooperation by cooking whatever it is they love to eat. Don’t forget to start with something that is easy if this is their first cooking experience.

Cooking benefits your teen by boosting their self-esteem and encouraging independence, so don’t give up attempting to enlist their help.

Remember, compliment your assistant chef, preferably in front of others. Offer them first taste of whatever you cooked together and, if it is mealtime, let them serve up the food. After you are through with your cooking, initiate their help to clean up. They need to learn the responsibilities connected with cooking. Plus, as with the cooking, the job goes faster with help!

Fun Cooking With Your Child

Cooking with your child will be a great experience for them – fun, educational, and an adventure, which can draw you both closer. A bit of preparation will positively contribute to your child helping you prepare snacks or a family meal.

 

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