Is it an officially sanctioned holiday? Well, not exactly…though it is observed annually in some circles. But despite its informal status, it is still a great day to celebrate. Why? Because cooking with your kids has more benefits that I can list in one blog post! (Literally...I had to edit out so many great things about for the sake of time.) Here are just a few things that cooking with your kids can do!
Develop Basics Skills
Just the actions involved with cooking can help very young children develop the skills to meet basic benchmarks. Stirring, scooping, and pouring can help with fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Counting out the numbers of eggs or cups of flour in a recipe helps develop an understanding of one-to-one correspondence. Talking about cooking processes can help with vocabulary, object identification, and language development. So (being especially mindful of safety) get your littles in on the action!
Develop Not-So-Basic Skills
Kids can work their way through Bloom’s Taxonomy and develop higher level thinking skills as they develop culinary skills. When they begin by following basic recipes, they start building knowledge. As they develop an understanding of the functions that different ingredients or techniques serve and using those effectively, they develop comprehension, application, and analysis. As they begin creating and critiquing their own dishes, they’ve moved into the highest order of thinking skills, synthesis and evaluation.
Develop Life Skills
We all know that cooking is a great skill to have! After all, it’s important to be able to feed yourself – and maybe others, too! But the life skills developed by cooking go way beyond food preparation. Cooking healthy, balanced meals can teach kids about proper diet and nutrition. Making menus, grocery shopping, and preparing meals can improve planning, budgeting, and time management skills. Plus, putting kids in charge of dinner once in a while can instill responsibility.
Create Well-Rounded Young People
There are few activities that have the ability to incorporate so many subject areas all at the same time. One recipe might include:
- Math – using weights and measures, conversions, and fractions.
- Language Arts – developing comprehension and vocabulary by reading recipes.
- Social Studies – learning about the cultural or family traditions related to a particular dish.
- Science – observing physical and chemical changes, fermentation, pH, microbiology, and so much more!
- Arts – fostering creativity and understanding of artistic concepts like design, balance, and color.
- And Music – because who doesn’t love listening to their favorite playlist while cooking in the kitchen?!
Build Confidence (and Resilience)
The kitchen is a great place to see success! As kids try new things and set short term goals, they can often see (and taste) the positive results of their efforts This can be a great self-esteem boost while increasing intrinsic motivation! Perhaps more importantly though, the kitchen is a (relatively) safe place to learn from failure. Kids learn that, sometimes, you just have to throw it out and start again. (Or scrape off the burnt parts and choke it down!)
Plus, kids are problem solving through the successes and failures, constantly trying to figure out the best way to do something, how to make it work, or what to do when it all goes wrong.
Maybe the best thing about cooking with your kids is, simply, being with your kids. The kitchen is a great place to have heartfelt chats, share new experiences, create memories, and feel loved. Barbara Kingsolver summed this up beautifully, writing, “I have given and received some of my life’s most important hugs with those big oven-mitt potholders on both hands.”
This is also a great opportunity to foster a connection to your local community by becoming more aware of food security issues close to home. You can learn more and take action during September’s Hunger Action Month.
Want more resources on cooking with kids? There are so many great ones!
- Cooking with Children – Illinoi Extension
- Cooking with Kids – Eat.Move.Save.
- Kids in the Kitchen - USDA
- My Plate: Life Stages
- Cooking with Kids – Kids Health
- Cooking with Preschoolers – Kids Health
Would you like to help ensure that all families are able to spend time in the kitchen with their kids? Or did all this cooking fun inspire you to take action around food security? Check out ways you and your family can get involved during Hunger Action Month.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.
She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.
When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.
ABOUT THE BLOG
Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.