The Benefits of Cooking With Kids

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Cooking is a valuable life skill that helps kids to develop their independence. Cooking can also help boost kids’ confidence as they spend quality time with you while contributing something the whole family can enjoy. Cooking activities are a great way for kids to express themselves and enjoy their creations. Parents often are in search of creative activities for their children, sometimes simply to distract them from video games or the TV, and cooking fits that niche admirably. Cooking together is a great way to have fun and share some productive time and experience with your kids. Working in the kitchen can also lead to important discussions about health and safety, which should always be addressed before cooking with kids.

Most kids are interested in learning some basic cooking skills. Parents can help encourage this interest by taking the time to cook with their kids on a regular basis. Start small when cooking with kids. It is important to start with a recipe that does not require extensive preparation. Something simple such as scrambled eggs or cinnamon toast provides an immediate result and a high success rate, which is important for building confidence in kids. Cook with your kids when you know you will not be pressed for time or preoccupied by another responsibility in order to be able to give your kids your undivided attention while you are cooking and focus on enjoying the time you have together. With a little grown-up ingenuity and childlike creativity, you can help your kids eat healthy, avoid the junk-food dinner trap and engage with you in the kitchen with fun, age-appropriate activities.

Here are some tips for having fun, helping kids learn, and staying safe while you’re cooking:

-Take your Time. Cooking with kids is more about the process and less about the end result.

-Start slow and simple: Provide your child with safe opportunities to spread sauces, butters, or frosting with blunt knives, then move up to cutting as he matures.

-Make it fun. Cooking should be an enjoyable experience. It should be fun to work together in the kitchen, and your kids will surprise you by eating their own creations — even vegetables. Kids often will try unfamiliar foods, including vegetables and fruits, when they transform them into personal “creations” like a funny face pizza or a fruit kabob. To the kids, it will seem like fun, but there are other benefits to this time together: Preschoolers see how the dishes they eat are put together – and they get hands-on experience, which is a great way to learn and feel like they are helping out. You don’t have to be a skilled chef to have fun in the kitchen; simple recipes abound, from cooking instant oatmeal to building a sandwich to making fruit salad.

-Take time to explain the process, talk about ingredients, etc. Remember that one of the most important elements when using cooking as your learning tool is to be as talkative and descriptive as possible, especially with younger children. This can be a good time to teach children about color, because foods come in all sorts of different colors. You can also teach your children about shapes… This is especially fun when baking cookies, but can be used with pretty much any recipe. Some other things your child can learn while cooking might be textures, temperature, and measurements.

-Offer them experiences such as: rolling bananas in cereal for a snack, juicing oranges, lemons, and limes, and mashing soft fruits and vegetables

-Kids can help measure ingredients and pour them into a bowl, stir the ingredients together and add to a baking pan, skillet or pot. You can let your child pull cookie dough apart and press onto a baking sheet.

-For younger kids, consider starting with simple dishes with fewer than five ingredients.

-Small kids can use a step stool to be able to work more comfortably on the counter

-Older kids can be taught how to crack eggs or measure ingredients, grind cooked meat for a meat spread, or beat eggs with an eggbeater

-Keep it safe. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and baking soda next to the stove to douse any fires, and consider storing a first-aid kit nearby for quick treatment of minor accidents.

-Good cooks of all ages always wash their hands before cooking. Don’t forget to educate him on the dangers of eating raw foods like eggs and meat or unwashed fruits and vegetables.

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