Hands-on Learning: The Value of Teaching Kids to Cook
If you’re tired of cajoling the kids into trying new and healthier foods, you just might find them more receptive if you involve them in recipe selection and meal preparation. Kids love to be involved in activities that make them feel grown-up and able to contribute in fun ways to what goes on around the house. There are several lessons they can learn, from time management to math and health science. Cooking also teaches kids self-reliance, how to be safe in the kitchen, and how to work together toward a common goal. Learning such an important life skill at an early age gives kids a good head-start on life and builds self-confidence.
An open mind
Involving kids in the kitchen helps develop a more open-minded view of food in general. They’re more likely to learn to appreciate new recipes and the ingredients that go into them if they have an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get their hands good and greasy. It’s fun to help make a recipe come together and watch as it turns into familiar and tasty dishes. Have your kids select a favorite and healthful recipe, take them to the grocery so they can see where the ingredients come from, and teach them how to find and include fresh ingredients, such as herbs and fresh fruit and vegetables. At the least, they’ll have an understanding of what it takes to make their favorite dishes, and they’ll be much more likely to try something they themselves helped make. And, hopefully, they’ll develop a new-found curiosity and willingness to try new experiences.
Starting the conversation
Dietitians teach that the most important thing you can do to stay healthy is to cook at home. Cooking is also a great way to show kids how to make foods that make them smarter or keep them from gaining too much weight, and to start the conversation about how diet affects one’s health. Explain how eating certain foods can make it easier to go to the bathroom, while others can help keep them from catching certain viruses. Learning to cook establishes a healthy precedent and instills an appreciation of how each of us can maintain control over our own health by making healthy choices. If it’s true that kids learn best by doing, this could be one of the most important lessons you’ll ever teach them.
Families often have trouble making a Family Fun Night happen, either because someone’s busy or because it’s just too hard to get everyone to agree on an activity. Cooking together can be more fun than any board game or video game. Everyone has a role, and everyone contributes to the final product. You may find that kids who can’t be in the same room together for more than a few minutes are suddenly helping each other use new tools to prepare ingredients. This is the best place to teach the value of not crying over spilled milk. If someone knocks over a box of rice or accidentally spills chicken stock, you have a chance to show them the importance of forgiveness and understanding, and why you should always support someone you love.
Make sure your kitchen is a kid-friendly space. Keep sharp objects out of reach so you can maintain control over them, and keep children away from the stovetop or oven when you’ve got something cooking. HomeAdvisor notes, “Because children can grab or bump into pots or pans and cause potentially dangerous spills, it is always necessary to turn all handles inward toward the stove or counter. This includes the handles of pots, pans and skillets.”
Kids can learn a lot of important things in the kitchen. They learn the value of healthy eating and of being safe while preparing ingredients, and they’ll learn the value of working together and having fun as a family.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.