12 Reasons to Involve Kids in the Kitchen
Its good old fashioned fun
No electronics, no EMF, no violent games, no competition. The pull of the iSomething is strong and it seems everywhere I look kids are hunched over some device. I know some apps are educational and I don’t doubt that, but I also think there is something to be said about real life interactions and experiences as learning experiences, which leads me to the next reason…
Cooking is educational
While cooking, one can learn fractions (1/4 cup), division and multiplication (think doubling or halving a recipe), reading skills (reading recipe directions). It’s also a science in a pot as one can learn about boiling points, freezing points (using salt to lower freezing point while making ice cream), chemical reactions (baking soda’s effect on various substances, yeast making bread rise). Cooking is always a science experiment when you are missing an ingredient: what happens when you accidentally forget to put baking powder in your cookies or substitute an ingredient…
Cooking together means working together as a team, making compromises, encouraging your partner, doing your part to help.
Teaches Life Skills
When your child is on his or her own, he/she will know how to scramble an egg, bake a cake, make a pot of soup, etc. But it’s more than that…your child will know how to grocery shop, clean up counters, wash dishes, wash hands before cooking, and so much more!
Teaches Food Values
When we are spending time in the kitchen together we often talk about why we choose to eat the way we do, why we buy organic, why we avoid artificial ingredients, why we limit carbs and sugar…and we impart these food values to our children. (We don’t talk about weight at all, ours, theirs or anyone else’s). We talk about health and how food is the foundation for well-being and even mental stability.
When I cook with my kids, it is an opportunity to notice their strengths and reflect those back to them. “You are really good at rolling that dough out nice and flat.” I also like to ‘certify’ my kids in a specific skill such as cracking eggs, or using the stove safely (older kids). Once they have been taught the job and can do it proficiently they become ‘certified’ and may do it when called upon. They take pride in being able to do something that requires skill.
Anytime you start a recipe and do not have all of the ingredients it is an opportunity to demonstrate overcoming a challenge. What kind of example will you set. Also, don’t forget to notice when your child overcomes a challenge. Even something as simple as pulling up a stool to be able to reach is overcoming a challenge.
Time spent together in the kitchen is time well spent. I remember playing in the living room after dinner at my grandmother’s house and overhearing my mom, grandmother and aunts talking and laughing as they cleaned up and did the dishes together. You can make it focused one-on-one time as well, making your child feel important. If you knit kitchen quality time into the fabric of your life while the kids are young, it will always be there as your kids grow up.
Patience is a virtue that I want my kids to develop. Every time something yummy goes into the oven and your child anxiously waits as sweet smells waft through the air, she is developing patience. And lets face it I could use more patience too…and any time I cook with my kids, I’m practicing patience as well.
Cooking Teaches the Importance of Following Directions
Recipes are instructions that we must follow in order to get a resulting product to taste and look the way it is supposed to. If we don’t follow the instructions, we probably will not get the results we were expecting. Following directions in the kitchen is also important for safety reasons. There are directions we give kids in the kitchen in order to keep them safe. Should they not follow those directions, they may get hurt. My son once did not listen to me when I told him to stand back from the tray of cookies that had just come out of the oven. He went in close for a big sniff and burned his chin on the hot tray…following directions is important
Cooking Teaches the Importance of Defying the Rules
Some of the best dishes have come from straying from the recipe and NOT following the directions. And sometimes in life, too, we must break the rules because the rules don’t make sense for us. A perfect example is the Food Pyramid which says we should eat mostly bread AKA carbs which turn into sugar in our bodies, and that we should eat fats sparingly. Since the government began touting this “rule of thumb”, Americans have gotten fatter and sicker than ever. This is the one reason this little ol’ food blog is called DEFIANTLY Good Food.
To Form Generational Bonds
What could be more special than learning to cook an heirloom recipe from your great-grandmother herself. My grandmother is a wealth of knowledge and insight and wisdom and I love hearing her stories about growing up on a simple farm and how they made their own soap and used up every scrap of food, and how they shared their surplus with neighbors. It makes me want to go back in time. (These photos are my son cooking with my grandmother).
You may also like 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids and Making Memories in the Kitchen
Here’s a great recipe to make with/for kids: Homemade Marshmallows
Here are some of my favorite tools for when the kids get involved in the kitchen: