Food For Thought
Why You Should Teach Children to Cook
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
As many of you know, I’m a firm believer in mixing together kids and kitchens. Cooking with our children provides opportunity for teaching valuable life skills, quality “talk-time” to learn what’s going on with your kids, and it’s a great memory maker.
Time in the kitchen with your children teaches time management, organization, math, nutrition and cooperation. It also increases their awareness of healthy eating, menu planning and budgeting. Allowing them to help you in the kitchen might mean your kitchen doesn’t stay as neat and clean and it could take longer to make a meal, but years later, it pays off in huge dividends, especially when your children start to choose healthy foods over fast food all on their own–it happens, I promise!
There are countless object lessons you can use with your children while you cook together. For example, one meal might focus on the importance of teamwork and working together for a common goal (or recipe) as a family. Another teaching opportunity can be found in the necessity of completing the steps of a recipe in order. With older children you can compare this to the order of life and the importance of age appropriate curfews, chores, and expectations. Or how about the significance of following directions? Intentionally leave out a few ingredients in a recipe to illustrate the point and discuss this with your child.
Getting kids excited about learning to cook will serve them later on in life when it’s time to strike out on their own. Learning to cook will save your grown child a lot of money and help him or her eat a lot better than their peers. Many young adults who were not exposed to the kitchen when younger eat poorly and have no clue what to do in that room with the big appliances.
The act of cooking allows us as parents to share and laugh and bond together. Counselors have counseled many a parent to do some kind of activity while having a conversation so your child doesn’t feel like he’s “put on the spot”. Conversation over cutting boards and sinks of suds can allow you and your child to talk about school, friends, choices, and dreams without the intimidation of a one-on-one sit-down.
Children grow up and leave the nest too soon. These moments together in the kitchen can become cherished memories–don’t miss out!