The benefits of cooking with your kids
Cooking with young children is an excellent way to introduce them to healthy eating habits for life, and to the concept of ‘only getting out what you put in’. Young children are far more likely to try different foods if they have participated in all the fun of the preparation stage, and cooking together is also a great opportunity for some parent-child bonding time.
The more ingredients your little one handles and familiarises themselves with, the more likely they are to store them in their mental bank of ‘good to eat’ and they will naturally begin to make healthier choices on their own.
The healthy eating element is just one of the major benefits of cooking with your kids. Also, think about the many skills used when cooking and following recipes. Your child will use elements of maths for measuring, reading for recipes, language for communication with Chef (that’s you), design for the decoration and science for the changes that take place during cooking – all to make a simple batch of iced fairy cakes!
Cooking together is also a brilliant time to start teaching safety in the kitchen and your little one will need to learn basic boundaries about which stages of the process they can and cannot help with. They must not touch the hot oven, but they can certainly ice the cakes. It is a good idea to invest in some plastic knives and soft silicone baking utensils, the more your child can safely help you with the better!
Many parents think about cooking with their young children only to envisage utter carnage… burned fingers and a kitchen dripping in goo… But our little learners are actually a lot more capable than we give them credit for.
Firstly make sure that they can reach the surface they are working on. You imagine trying to achieve anything with your arms held up over your head. Either provide a safe and sturdy step-up to the kitchen table, or counter… or bring in a lightweight toddler table and take the activities down to them. Cheap plastic tablecloths can be wiped down and used again, so if your youngster is a messy puppy then keep a few handy. And most of all watch them always, to ensure safety. This is not a ‘leave them to it’ activity, but cooking together is fun and rewarding for both of you.
At our Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres in NSW, healthy eating and cooking experiences are all part of the activity-based curriculum. Children can practise the skills you have been learning at home while socialising with children of the same age, and maybe they will come home with some fun foody ideas you can try together!