How cooking helps kids learn
Teaching your kids how to cook will not only help equip them for a healthier, simpler life once they leave home - but it's actually a really great way to help them learn. Kids who can cook develop confidence and self-assurance, and a greater understanding of the world in a range of ways. Here are just some of the reasons you should teach your kids to be little masterchefs!
Kids love the opportunity to feel grown-up, and cooking "just like mum and dad" makes kids feel really special. Give him the opportunity to do as much as possible by himself - if they're closely supervised and activities are age-appropriate you'll be surprised at how responsible kids can be.
Science and chemistry
Why do cakes rise? How do egg whites turn from this clear, sticky stuff into glossy white peaks? When you think about it - baking's a pretty cook science lesson. But the best thing is, you don't actually have to teach - the activity does it for you. Actually, the best thing is that when you learn about why certain ingredients act the way they do (so you can teach your child) you end up being a better baker yourself.
Measurement and volume
Understanding measurement and volume is made simple when baking. A clear measuring jug makes things easy to see. Try using a variety of implements when measuring: cups, jugs, spoons, scales - just so children can help understand. Making a 'pound cake' can also be a great help - showing children how different amounts of substances (butter, sugar, flour) can look different, but still weigh the same.
Sounding out the words in recipes, or reading ingredients from packets in the pantry can help children with their spelling and reading. It also helps when they need to recognise words and connect the word "flour" in a recipe with the word "flour" on a pack. Labelling your jars in the pantry can be handy - and can also be a learning tool for your child.
It's surprising how a fussy kid will try a new food when it's something he's cooked himself. Give your child the option of two different vegies to include with dinner, find a recipe and let him help cut and cook up the vegetable - and hopefully try it all afterwards. Cooking helps children understand why we eat the foods we do - what foods go well together, and what we need to include for a balanced meal.
Children can learn more about the world through cooking. Choose a dish per month from a different culture - and then spend a little time learning about that country and why they eat the way they do? Why is it that so many hot countries enjoy spicy, chilli-rich meals? What meats are popular in certain nations and how does the way they eat differ from ours. Start out with kid-friendly options such as Mexican, Indian and Italian (see our recipe section for menu ideas) and move onto other nations as your child's tastebuds become more adventurous. You could be surprised at what you child likes.
There's nothing like a sense of achievement to improve self-esteem. Cooking is a great way too boost children's confidence as the results are quick - and there for the whole family to enjoy. Remember to step back and let them him to do things by himself - after showing him the safest way to do everything of course!
Find fun recipes to help kids cook
We've got some great Kid friendly recipes. Happy cooking.
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Written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand's largest on-line educational resource.