I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again kids love to cook! The hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen can be fascinating for young children. Watching steam rise from pots and being devoured by intriguing aromas is enough to transport them to a magical playground that is full of adventure. Getting kids in the kitchen is a great way to show them that therein holds a world of opportunities for children.
Why Help Children Cook?
- Helps to improve reading and maths skills
- Encourages children to see a task through from beginning to end
- Listening to instructions aids concentration
- Planning and making choices teaches responsibility
- Creates a curious and positive association with food
- Healthy eating becomes more appealing – and likely
- Improves motor skills – both fine and gross
- Links food in the fields to food on the plate (provenance)
- Demonstrates the value of working as a team and taking turns
- Reduces fussy eating habits
- Emboldens, builds confidence and self esteem
- Nurtures relationships and promotes bonding
- Creative endeavours fuel kids’ imaginations
- Organisational and time management skills are learned
- Opportunity to learn about other cultures’ cuisine
- Knowledge of food hygiene and cleanliness is vital for wellbeing.
Tips for Kids in the Kitchen
1. Encourage young children to add their own measure of creativity with easy, no-heat recipes. Create recipe cards (or google them) for non-readers by drawing pictures on index cards.
2. Choose a recipe that you’ve done before so there will be no surprises and is not overly difficult (too many steps, specialized cooking techniques, etc.) for your child.
3. Gather, or at least know you have all ingredients needed, prior to starting a recipe with your child.
4. Children can use either knives designed for little ones or a butter knife to cut things. This is a good opportunity to teach knife safety.
5. Start earlier than you think is necessary if you want to be finished by a certain time
6. Be prepared for tasting, spills and a general mess – try to see the benefit of this exploration
In most households, the kitchen is where the action is. Sharing your kitchen with your children encourages their interest in cooking. It’s also a fun way to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits. Like adults, little ones have their own ideas about how things should be done, which of course includes cooking. But the mess and extra time spent going at a slower pace is good on so many levels, the pay off so great, that it makes it all worth it.
!! Kitchens are dangerous places – for kids of all ages – so certain ground rules need to be followed. Knives, electrical appliances and hot stoves are all hazards. So too is carrying a pot of hot water to the sink when there’s a small person nearby. You can use the kitchen environment to teach your child about safety!!
Roanne Scott from Ro&Co www.roandco.biz
This article was published in Issue 4 of our print magazine, June/July 2014.