This post for 7 Reasons to Cook with Kids is sponsored by La Petite Academy. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Our 5 year old daughter, B loves to cook. It is so funny because as a kid cooking was not really something that I even thought about doing. My mom is a self proclaimed "Microwave Mom." When La Petite Academy reached out to me and shared about the importance of cooking with your kids I was so excited. I could not wait to share the information with you.
La Petite recently won the 2017 PHA Partner of the Year Award from the Partnership for a Healthier America in recognition of its healthy practices. Through its Grow Fit healthy lifestyle initiative, the preschool provider is supporting kids’ healthy development and helping prevent chronic disease later in life.
Learning to make healthy choices is one of the most important life skills children develop at these schools, right alongside literacy and kindness. One of the best places to hone those skills at home is in the kitchen!
Did you know as early as age 2 your kids can start to help you in the kitchen. Find out 7 reasons to cook with kids and what they are learning in addition to life skills.
"It’s a terrific way to encourage healthy eating habits while you bond with your child and create lasting memories", notes Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at La Petite Academy
7 Reasons to Cook with Kids
Making Healthy Choices
We like to involve B is every aspect of cooking including growing and buying our groceries. Allowing her to select the items and place them in the cart helps her make healthier choices as well. It is also a great opportunity to introduce her to new foods as well. We also practice counting skills and letters as we make our way through the grocery store. I was happy to see the Spain reinforced this thought process, saying:
“Getting children involved with meal preparation creates a better understanding of healthy ingredients and nutrition".
Tip: Have a picky eater? You may already know it can take as many as 10-15 failed attempts before a child is willing to try a new food on his own. If you struggle with this, having kids help prepare the food makes them more likely to try it.
We like to experience with new flavors, but I had never thought about how the kitchen is a wonderful science lab for children. When you are cooking together kids learn to observe, measure, analyze, and make predictions. Cooking is like a science experience, how will the food be impacted by temperature.
Tip: Kitchen equipment is always fun! B loves to set the timers, use the hand mixer, the spiral-er, and sit in front of the oven with the light on to watch her food cook.
Hands on Fun
Don't be intimidated by including kids in the kitchen. When we first started I was worried about B hurting herself. Some jobs that fit for most ages include: wash vegetables, pour, squeeze, mix or knead. We have had some messy moments especially with flour, but it has been so much fun to see how B's fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination has improved over the last three years. Along the way, your child will build small muscle control, sharpen fine motor skills and develop hand/eye coordination. Be sure to point out all of the safety precautions you’re following as you cook together. Did you know that kids as young as 3 can begin learning knife skills using a child-safe knife?
Tip: Give your child a dedicated space at the counter or table to emphasize his/her contribution and keep the mess contained.
We watch a lot of cooking shows together. My husband jokes that if we lost the cooking networks we would never use the TV. Cooking is an art that involves all of the senses, cooking inspires kids’ curiosity, thinking and problem-solving capabilities. We have had some dishes that still need to be perfected, but we have also had some winners. It is fun to watch your child explore different flavors and textures.
Tip: Children often like to taste every ingredient as it’s being added. Be sure to explain that certain foods shouldn’t be eaten raw. For things like raw eggs I let B smell them instead. I recently learned that B loves zucchini.
It Adds Up
My great grandmother loved math and she made it so much fun. She has inspired me to use cooking to teach and apply math skills with B. We count the number total of eggs and then with each one I ask how many we have left. We also talk about simple fractions.
Tip: This is a tip I need to implement in our house. You can show how the same amount of ingredients can look different when you change containers. You can visually show it by pouring ingredients into cups or bowls of different sizes.
A Language of its Own
Working side by side with you in the kitchen helps your child develop communication skills and builds a foundation for early literacy. As you read a recipe aloud together, your child is learning to follow words from left to right and top to bottom, as well as distinguishing letters from numbers. Cooking has so many opportunities for kids to describe what they see and taste, and to learn new terminology as they mix, shred and slice.
Tip: Use illustrated cookbooks and recipe cards to help your child match pictures to words, and encourage questions along the way.
I Made This!
Having everyone enjoy a dish that B helped make brings both of us so much pride and joy. Helping out in the kitchen contributes to kids’ emotional development and self-assurance as they build confidence in their abilities. Kids learn responsibility while following directions and solving problems.
Tip: When cooking with your kids plan for extra time. If we are working on a meal I like to work with B on part of the meal and give her specific tasks. Try to resist the temptation to step in and take over.
Learn More about La Petite Academy
For more information about La Petite Academy, please visit their website.
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