Why is cooking with kids so important?
Did you know that cooking with kids is about so much more than just eating the yummy desserts and snacks (or whatever) at the end of the process?
(Although we will give it to you, eating tasty recipes for kids is the main motivator…)
But, what if we told you that there are hidden ways that your kids are learning while you’re teaching kids to cook?
(Shhhh! We won’t tell if you won’t tell!)
Why Cook With Kids?
Here are 9 SURPRISING reasons why kids should learn to cook and why cooking with kids is important:
- Works with any learning style.
- Helps with STEM, reading, spelling and MORE.
- Improves communication.
- Teaches nutrition and healthy eating.
- Teaches responsibility.
- Boosts confidence.
- Helps with picky eating.
- Exposes kids to different cultures.
- Improves the family bond.
(We’ll get into more detail later in the post, so keep scrolling! Whether you’re cooking with preschoolers or looking for teen activities, these tips will help!)
What age should a child learn to cook?
Your child should learn to cook when they first start showing an interest in cooking or can help out in the kitchen! This means you can starting cooking with preschoolers all the way through high school! You will just need to adjust the complexity of the recipes based on age and stage. For example, some 8 year olds are more mature and may be able to use a stove. Other 8 years olds may not be ready to use the stove. Also, remember that cooking with your child doesn’t have to mean cooking something. It could mean assembling a recipe that is appropriate for 6-7 year olds.
Easy Recipes For Cooking With Kids
Need some help getting started cooking with kids?
Try these easy cooking with kids ideas:
These are the kind of recipes to show kids can cook!
BUT, you don’t have to “dumb down” your kid chef recipes just because they’re kids. In fact, we focus on making real food fun because that’s real life and teaches healthy cooking with kids along with the fun recipes.
What age should a child start cooking?
You should start cooking (safely) with your kids as soon as they show an interest in what you’re doing in the kitchen. Toddlers can help you put ingredients into a bowl. Preschoolers cooking can help wash the vegetables and follow Rebus recipes. Graduate recipe responsibilities with age groups (like 5-7 years, 7-11 year olds, etc.). Then, at age 12 and up, kids can follow and create more complex recipes.
I’ve been cooking with my daughter since she was old enough to stand at the stove because she kept showing an interest in it. (It’s one of the reasons we started this kids cooking website!)
(We started about 18 months. Really. But, don’t freak out, we did it carefully!)
It’s something she has always naturally shown interest in, so I took advantage of that.
There are SO MANY benefits of cooking in early childhood!
I was happy that the two different preschools we initially had her in included easy cooking recipes for kids (“cooking” meaning making some kind of recipe) at least once per week.
Today, there are a wide range of recipes for 8 year olds to cook, recipes for preschool, recipes for beginners and MORE!
(So, don’t worry if you don’t know how to get started for your child’s age! There are plenty of how to cook with kids resources that we’ll get to later in the post, so be sure to SCROLL DOWN.)
Now that I’m homeschooling, we’ve included it as part of our regular theme lessons (in addition to what she naturally helps with anyway).
Why are we prioritizing cooking with kids as part of our homeschool curriculum?
Because it teaches kids so much—both in intellectual development and physical development!
(But, you don’t have to be a homeschooler to take advantage of the benefits of cooking with kids!)
UP NEXT: Kids Cooking Class Ideas
So, how does cooking with kids help child’s intellectual development and physical development and why is it important for kids to learn to cook?
Why Cooking With Your Child Is Important
How does cooking help a child’s development?
Here, we’re going to talk about 9 TOP reasons why cooking with kids is important.
(There are, of course, more, but we think these are the most important reasons why kids should learn to cook.)
Cooking With Kids Benefit #1: Cooking touches on different learning styles.
Cooking touches on all types of learning styles: auditory (listening to the recipe being read), visual (reading the recipe or watching the steps demonstrated), and kinesthetic (doing and touching).
Additionally, cooking can help younger kids develop those much needed fine motor skills.
No mater how your child learns best, cooking will cover it! It’s an active learning process that keeps kids engaged no matter how they best learn.
Cooking With Kids Benefit #2: Cooking helps with STEM as well as reading and spelling.
Even if your kids are too young to read or do math, cooking exposes them to these skills.
When my child was four and cooking, she didn’t understand fractions yet (or know how to read).
However, when I ask her “Can you find the 1/2 cup measuring cup? One half is a one with a slash and a two under it” it helped her practice her numbers and become comfortable with fractions.
I also talk to her about how two 1/2 cups make up 1 cup , and I show her the differences in the measuring cup sizes.
As your kids get older, you can move them into helping with the measurements, recipe math, reading the recipes, and even creating their own recipes!
And, don’t forget that cooking is a great science experiment!
Cooking With Kids Benefit #3: Cooking increases communication with your kids.
“How was the troop meeting?”
Do you ever talk to your kid and get nothing out of them?
Then, a few minutes later you play a video game with them and they start spilling their guts?
It’s the same when you learn how to cook with kids.
During cooking, you are with your kids for a somewhat extended period of time, doing something with your hands, and conversation naturally starts to flow.
If you have something difficult to talk about with your child, start cooking with them and approach the topic organically while cooking.
It may put both of you at ease and open a much-needed discussion.
Cooking With Kids Benefit #4: Cooking teaches nutrition to children.
It’s clearly important to teach good nutrition and healthy eating habits.
However, just telling your children how to eat healthy can be a big SNORE fest.
Cooking with kids gives you a chance to talk to them (and show them) items that are better choices for recipes and eating.
And, you can learn how to cook healthy together!
Cooking With Kids Benefit #5: Cooking teaches kids responsibility.
Cooking takes a lot of responsibility.
You have to start something from nothing and then see it all the way through to the end to make it happen.
And, don’t forget to give the kids the responsibility for keeping an eye (ear out) for the timer.
(It’s another great responsibility teacher!)
Additionally, cooking teaches kids important information about where their food comes from and how they have a responsibility to understand what is happening with their food before they eat it.
I’ll never forget when my daughter was around 4 years old and had her first understanding of food.
We were traveling and passed some cows.
In our discussion about cows, I revealed that cows made hamburgers.
It opened an entire discussion about where certain foods come from and how to make the best choices for the food we eat.
Cooking With Kids Benefit #6: Cooking with kids boosts confidence!
Doesn’t it feel good when you accomplish something?
Well, it’s like that for kids, too!
When a child starts something (from nothing) and then is able to see the final result of a cooked product, it builds confidence in their abilities.
As your child ages, empower them by allowing them to come up with their own recipes!
Cooking With Kids Benefit #7: Cooking helps picky eaters.
If you have a super picky eater, one of the best things you can do is involve them in cooking their own meals.
(Did you know that cooking with kids research has shown that kids are more likely to eat something that they’ve created or cooked?)
Investing in what they’re cooking urges kids to try their own creations.
Also, give them a say in what you’re cooking.
Once they have a little more control over some of their food, you may see them relax that picky eater grip a little more.
Cooking With Kids Benefit #8: Cooking helps expose your family to different cultures.
My kid has always been a little foodie and will try anything.
I mean anything (even things that I would never try).
I’ll never forget when she was 5 years old and we were at a restaurant buffet.
One of the offerings was full crawfish (the kind where you pull the heads off and then eat the rest).
She looked at those crawfish–head, eyes, antennae and all–and announced, “I’d like to try those.”
SHE LOVED THEM.
I believe that she is confident in experimenting with food for two reasons:
1. When she was young, we never told her the foods we didn’t like.
2. We always exposed her to new foods starting from a very young age.
Now, we often include different cultures in both our studies and our cooking.
It’s a great way to add interesting diversity to your at-home learning. (This is one of our favorite books for this!)
Cooking With Kids Benefit #9: Cooking improves family relationships.
One of the best benefits of cooking with kids is that it helps strengthen the family bond.
In our fast paced world, it’s hard to slow down and carve out family time.
Cooking together is one thing that give you more time together.
(I mean, you have to eat, right?)
And, you don’t necessarily have to cook everyday with your kids. Make Thursdays nights “Family Cooking Night” so you can plan around it every week. Or, make the third Sunday of every month “Family Brunch Day” or whatever works for your family!