What is stopping you from cooking with your children?
Encouraging your child to help in the kitchen is developing a key life skill. Learning how to prepare healthy meals is so important. Getting children involved in the kitchen is a great way to encourage them to eat healthily.
It’s never too early to start learning how to cook or to think about healthy food choices.
There are lots of other reasons to let your children join you in the kitchen. Cooking is such a great activity to share with them. It provides many opportunities to develop a whole range of skills. These include:
Fine motor control – by simple things like snipping and tearing herbs and stirring or sprinkling to more advanced things like peeling, chopping and grating
Describing what they can see, taste, and feel
Helping to give an understanding of where food comes from
Developing mathematical skills such as:
- Developing vocabulary – linked with counting, comparing, positioning etc.
- Number recognition
- Shape identification
Research suggests another benefit of cooking with children is that it is the best way to encourage healthy eating habits for life. It is also likely children are more open to try new foods when they have a hand in preparing or cooking them as they tend to love to eat what they create. Getting your children to eat more fruits and vegetables is also less challenging when they cook. Children who cook often demonstrate more confidence in their ability to choose (and eat) healthy foods both at home and at school.
So how do we get children interested in/encourage their enjoyment of cooking?
Cooking with small children engages all 5 of the senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting! What a great way to provide them with a wonderful sensory experience. Colourful foods and foods with a variety of textures helps stimulate the senses.
- The most obvious way is to let them help out which involves messy fun. Embrace it!
- Take them shopping to help choose the ingredients.
- Encourage the children to help lay the table/make placemats/ table place cards.
- Give them their own apron or how about making a fun chef’s hat?
- Give them their own specific cooking equipment and equipment which is suitable for them to use.
- Initially make things that are fun and quick to make. Limit the time spent on each recipe so they don’t get bored.
Empower them to cook and create with these child friendly recipes.
- Eat together as a family when possible so they can share what they have made.
- Talk lots.
- Play music while you cook & perhaps sing along!
- Most children love stories. A story can sometimes be a good starting point/lead in to a cooking activity.
- Most importantly have fun!
You might be surprised by how engaged young children can be when they are cooking and the sense of pride when they see their results. They love cooking something to give to someone else. Even if they start by adding pre prepared ingredients or stirring something you have put together this still gives them a sense of ownership.
Why not give it a go? You will have fun too!
Here are some really useful techniques for skills children need in the kitchen. Younger children who are not ready to handle a knife can do things like crushing tomatoes with their hands for a fresh tomato sauce or use a spoon to scoop out avocado flesh and a fork to mash it.
Helpful information on cooking and preparing food with young children.