The Benefits of Cooking with Kids

Today I have a guest post for you about the benefits of cooking with kids. It’s written by Lisa who owns what2buy4kids.co.uk. Over to Lisa…

I’m Lisa, the Toy Hunter.  I love crafting, cooking and gardening with kids and I am a firm believer in learning through play.  I used to be a primary school teacher, I’m a mum of 3 and I own and manage www.what2buy4kids.co.uk. I’m always on the look-out for great quality and unique toys, gifts, crafts and activities that will educate and delight children.

The Benefits of Cooking with Kids

From when they were small, I have always enjoyed cooking with my kids. OK, that’s a bit of a fib. When I was a new mum, I found cooking with kids overwhelming. Keeping little hands away from danger, the inevitable mess and the cleaning up afterwards; it would have been easier to do it by myself! Over time I gained confidence and I learned more about the benefits of cooking with kids. I now firmly believe that the time spent cooking with a child is a valuable bonding, learning and creative experience for you both. Plus, there’s usually something delicious at the end – and that’s a wonderful bonus!

Cooking with kids is educational. Children learn by using their senses – touching, tasting, smelling, and listening, and senses come alive when you’re working with food. Many educational skills are abstract and children can’t understand them until them see them in the practical world. Cooking teaches educational skills more practically than almost any other activity you do together.

The five main education benefits are:

Seeing Science in Action

Adding baking powder to a recipe makes the cake rise.  Adding sugar makes it sweet. Heating chocolate makes it melt. Putting butter around the cake tin makes the cake not stick.  Hot oil sizzles when you add something to it. These are all examples of science in action.  They may not be able to understand exactly why yet, but kids will see a direct cause and effect of how certain ingredients create chemical a reaction.

Improving Maths Skills

Early learners can use their counting skills (count the eggs, count the number of tablespoons) and school-aged children can practice their weights and measuring skills (weigh the flour, measure 500 ml milk). Estimate and then measure afterwards to teach the understanding of what a weight or a measurement looks like. Using the ingredients as tools, kids will learn to put their maths skills to work. If you’re doubling a recipe, ask your child to increase/double the weight and measure/double each ingredient needed.

Reading and Comprehension Practise

Following a recipe is reading and comprehension in action.  First, read the list of ingredients together, then get your child to read out the steps, one at a time. Reading instructions out loud makes following them easier, so if your child takes the lead in reading, then the next step will naturally follow. If you have a smaller child who is just learning letters, encourage them to identify letters they see on the recipe page and practise making sounds together (b-b-b for butter) when showing them the food.

Understanding Time

All recipes call for an understanding of time.  Young kids who are learning the clock may be able to set a timer (a rotary timer is best because it has a clock face) and older children may be able to do more complicated tasks like calculating how long a step takes, or figuring out how much time to wait before going on to the next step. Kids will quickly learn that getting timing right means getting the recipe right and that makes for a delicious result!

Improving Language and Communication

Speaking, understanding and being understood are fundamental skills. Explain the steps, ask your child to explain back to you what you’re going to do and then talk about it all the way through the process.  Ask questions, make guesses, answer queries and explain out loud what you’re doing.  Listening and processing information is a skill, and cooking is a time when those skills can be put to the test.

Kids are always learning, and cooking with them is one of the many ways we can help with their educational development. There are many wonderful benefits to cooking with children, but being a part of their education is invaluable.

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Thanks Lisa for guest posting for me whilst I’m away. You can follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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