Cooking Provides Fun Teaching Experience For Kids
By Jessica Mitchell
Kids who are exposed to cooking and food preparation know more about nutrition and have a better appreciation for their food. Cooking and gardening also provide great opportunities to teach kids math, reading and fine motor skills. Here are a few ways you can use cooking as a learning and development tool for all ages.
To start, educate kids about where their food comes from. Allowing kids to help pick out ingredients for dinner at the grocery store helps them to be more involved in the process and piques their interest at the items used to create a meal. During the summer months, take a trip to one of the nearby farmers markets, where kids can meet the people who grew the produce. This offers an excellent chance for children to see where their food comes from and taste some of the best, in-season items our area has to offer. Families who have space might consider growing a vegetable or herb garden or planting a container garden so kids can see the full process of seed to plant. It’s a fun activity to do together as a family, and kids loving checking out the daily progress.
Back in the kitchen, start with safety basics by teaching children how to properly wash their hands before preparing food and then helping to assign age-appropriate tasks. Young children can mix dry ingredients, rinse produce and use tools such as cookie cutters or a whisk. Older children can use a food thermometer, peel vegetables, crack eggs and use can openers and other kitchen items. If you’re afraid of letting younger kids use a kitchen knife, remember that kitchen scissors can often be used for many of the same tasks.
Share your knowledge of food throughout the process by introducing the names of ingredients and talking about the way meal ingredients feel and taste. Work on math skills by measuring ingredients or using a kitchen scale. Allow them to claim responsibility for a part of a meal with tasks such as seasoning meat, building a salad or assembling pizza toppings.
Teaching your kids about food and cooking will help develop their confidence and self-esteem, and you’ll have another hand in the kitchen!
Jessica Mitchell is the Marketing & Design Coordinator at Youth Resources.