Stir the pancake mix, measure one cup of water, roll out the dough…all of these cooking tasks help kids develop necessary academic, cognitive and motor skills. I bet that you didn’t even know that each time you let your child help you prepare a meal, you are also preparing them for success in school and in life. Cooking with your kids offers a wide variety of opportunities to learn and grow!
As a kid, you probably helped your mom make the gravy and meatballs or roll the dough to make holiday cookies. What you probably didn’t know was that you were developing valuable life skills. As an adult, I am sure you have passed on this tradition and have your kids in the kitchen with you as well. You may have even taken them to a cooking class at Wegmans or Shoprite. I am here to tell you all the amazing benefits of cooking with your kids!
10 Benefits of Cooking with Kids
Increases Language Development
As you cook, you are labeling ingredients which increases a child’s vocabulary. Kids also have to follow directions which enhances receptive language skills. While cooking, also explain each step and have your child describe what they are doing for even greater language development. For more advanced learning, have them predict what will happen next or guess what the next ingredient would be.
Enhances Fine Motor Skills
Mixing the ingredients, rolling the dough and using cookie cutters are all great ways to enhance a child’s fine motor strength and control. These are skills needed to develop academic skills such as writing, cutting and coloring. Help improve these skills even more by allowing them to slowly pour ingredients into a bowl or quickly mix ingredients together. For older children, let them help flip the pancakes.
Increases Math Ability
Cooking involves a great deal of measurement. Kids will learn various measurements such as cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. They will also understand fractions as well as utilize addition and subtraction skills. If you ask any math teacher, they will tell you to cook with your kids to help enhance basic math skills!
Improves Reading Skills
When cooking with your children, have them read the recipes. For the younger kids, start with the numbers such as “2” cups of flour and “4” tablespoons of butter. For older kids, have them read each step then follow the directions. This also helps enhance reading comprehension.
Introduces Kids to Scientific Concepts
Cooking involves a great deal of science. Kids learn what happens when certain ingredients are mixed together as well as what happens when the measurements are incorrect.
Increases Focus and Attention
When cooking, kids need to stay focused and pay attention to each detail or the recipe will not be completed correctly. In a cooking class, if a student misses a first step, the final product will not turn out correctly. Kids learn quickly that they have to pay attention if they want to eat that brownie or cookie at the end!
Teaches Life Skills
Cooking is a skill that is needed to be an independent adult. Kids can learn early on how to make their own sandwich, pour milk or heat something in the microwave. Older kids can learn to cook meals for themselves and the family. This will allow them to be more independent and responsible individuals. Cooking also teaches kids various safety lessons such as not to touch a hot stove or how to use a knife correctly.
Promotes Healthy Eating
Allowing kids to cook, helps them learn what foods are healthy and what are not. It allows them to try new food that they may have not tried otherwise. It encourages them to eat at home instead of out which can often provide unhealthy options.
When a child is able to successfully complete a recipe and make a meal, they feel a sense of pride and confidence. In addition, as kids cook more their level of independence increases which in turn boosts their level of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Encourages Family Bonding
Cooking is a task that the entire family can enjoy! Make it a routine to cook Sunday dinner together each week or turn Friday night into make your own pizza night. You can also play your own version of “Chopped.” Cooking together as a family brings everyone together and creates a bonding experience.