Learning to cook is not only an important life skill, it also encourages you to try new and exciting foods and flavors – this is why it’s so important for you to introduce your children to the kitchen and cooking at an early age.
Knowing how to navigate a kitchen instills confidence in young children, as they begin to understand the health and safety aspects and how to make yummy food for themselves and their family.
Start off small, asking your kids to help you make sandwiches and encouraging them to come up with new combinations to put in them (be sure to put out a selection of things that go together, no one wants a ham, egg and raspberry jam sandwich). As they learn the basic skill of choosing food and putting it together into a more easily edible format they will learn that it’s fun to work with and fun to eat.
Cooking and learning about food also enforces a healthy eating concept on children. As they learn how to make filling and tasty dishes that are also healthy they will be more inclined in the future to cook from scratch and not reach for the Chinese takeaway menu.
Learning to cook introduces children to food in its rawest form, they discover what things look and feel like and you can also teach them where they come from before you start. Learning about food preparation is also an important aspect of cooking, get them washing and peeling vegetables so they understand the preparation and work that goes into each meal you make. The BBC Good Food website features some great, easy recipes for kids.
Cooking also teaches children important skills, such as science and maths, as they have to amend recipe measurements for the amount of people they are cooking for and learn what to do when the recipe asks for a tablespoon – or if they need to convert something from cups to grams. It can also help develop their understanding of time, as recipes require you to set timers while cooking.
As well as these important skills cooking also teaches children how to follow a recipe and how to complete a task step by step. Once your kids are feeling confident in the kitchen pick out a simple recipe such as cupcakes and ask them to make them without a great deal of assistance from you (of course you will need to work the oven and any cutting). If they accomplish the task their sense of pride and achievement will sky rocket, giving them confidence to continue in the kitchen. Of course, if things don’t go to plan it’s important to let them know they can always try again and that they haven’t failed.
Learning how to cook also teaches kids new words and phrases they might not have known before – such as whisk, peel, dice, etc – expanding their vocabulary and confidence when talking about cooking. It also encourages more time spent together as a family, as you supervise everything they do – something that should always be reinforced in the family.
An interest in cooking at a young age could lead to a bright future for your child, whether they take an active role in restaurant jobs or simply cook everything from scratch for a healthy diet.