Cooking with Your Kids: Why and Ideas on How

Caston recently made Banana Bread completely himself. He measured, sifted, poured and stir every ingredient. The floor was a mess, but he was quite proud of his accomplishment.

I remember as I child watching my mother in the kitchen…the way she moved with such grace and how she liked to sing or hum her favorite Neil Diamond tune as she prepared dinner.  And then there was Grandma Hart who made magic happen from a cast iron skillet, some lard and flour…lots of recipes started this way in her kitchen.

And then there’s me.  I’m a complete mess in the kitchen- nothing graceful or magical.  However, I do sing a mean karaoke along with whatever my Pandora station is blaring.

I tend to be very messy in the kitchen, although over the years I’ve become much more organized about my messiness.

When our son become old enough to really understand cooking and help me in the kitchen we had HUGE messes.  I knew that I wanted him to enjoy cooking and food as much as I did, however, I didn’t know how to accomplish this…as anyone that has cooked with children knows,  it take way more time than cooking itself.

But, over the past 2 years Caston and I have learned so much…and we are both better for it.  I have more patience and he has learned many valuable skills.  If you haven’t ventured into the kitchen with your kids, now’s the perfect opportunity to add this to your 2013 “To Do” List.  Here’s Why…

1. Reading
Your children will learn new words and the meanings behind the words with hands on experience.  

2. Self Esteem
When your child helps prepare the food your family enjoys, the look of pride across their face is priceless.

3. Good Communication
One on one time is essential!  Make a date with your little one and cook together daily.  Talk about school, their day, what they did- side by side in your kitchen together.  That’s the time when bonding is achieved!

4. Sensory Experiences
What better way for your child to truly become connected to their food?  Sensory experiences such as seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting will help your child to appreciate each food.

5. Food Education
Where does your food come from? Teach your children how vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy and grains make it to their tables.  What are the health benefits and how are the items produced?  This way your child becomes part of the food process and engaged.  A child that is engaged in their food, is more apt to try new foods.

6. Motor Development
Give your child the opportunity to practice their fine motor skills like chopping, kneading, whisking, stirring, beating and even tenderizing.

7. Introduce Math
Another opportunity to work on hands-on, real life experiences incorporating mathematic skills.  We routinely count the number of eggs we place in the bowl or the number of times mommy stirs the mixture.

All in all, cooking with your children will not only be fun and exciting for your wee ones, but very rewarding for yourself as well.  Just be ready with a big mop and broom!

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