One of my favourite things to do is cook with my children. Yes! It gets messy but, to be honest, what doesn’t when you do it with children?
Learning to cook should be as important as teaching the children about healthy eating habits. I learnt to cook while I was on maternity leave with my first child and I am very glad I did so, but wish I had learnt much earlier. It's never too late, or too early, to begin cooking!
Since Noah was very little we practiced together, sometimes the results were awesome and other times we decided not to eat it, yuck! And that’s ok, failure is nothing but a learning process. With new life skills comes a succession of trials and errors, and understanding this is just part of it.
Children are naturally interested in learning new skills, especially if they see them happening daily. This gives us a chance to create a positive and fun learning experience. There are many benefits from getting our little helpers involved in what is going on in the kitchen.
1. The most important is to spend time together and enjoy it. Any activity that helps bonding is a good one and more if it is fun for everyone.
2. Understanding math concepts like a half, or a quarter, and measurements, is best when done in a hands-on way.
3. It contributes to further developing fine motors skills and confidence. At the beginning there were spills; water, milk and even flour everywhere, but we just cleaned the mess and tried again. My son got better and soon he could pour milk in a cup by himself without spilling it. He was really proud.
4. We don’t only cook muffins and cookies. Cooking different foods, or even just helping with the dinner gives me a chance to talk to him about healthy and not so healthy ingredients.
5. You can invite friends over to cook, to make it a different playdate.
6. Older siblings can help the younger ones. Noah is now teaching his little sister, and it is adorable!
7. You get a prize at the end (most of times). Eating the just-made dinner or dessert is the best reward!
As I briefly mentioned in my article about books, one of our favourite books is “Pretend Soup”. It is a great book with step-by-step illustrated instructions to start young children cooking. The same author – Mollie Katzen – has published other recipe books for children: “Salad People” and “Honest Pretzels”,
Also, Barefoot Books, sells a great Cooking Card Deck called Kid’s Kitchen. I haven’t personally tried it but I hope to soon! Check it out with our Barefoot Ambassador, Charlene.