Cooking With Kids: Easy Recipes Kids Like

Teaching kids to cook not only improves their skills in the kitchen, it helps improve their self esteem, cognitive skills, language and motor skills.

| February/March 1993

  • cooking with kids
    It might be messy, but teaching kids to cook promotes a whole new set of skills.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • cooking with kids

I know what you're thinking. You are envisioning yourself knee deep in an avalanche of flour. The mixer is buzzing at top speed, splattering the wallpaper with brownie batter. Your children are fencing with shish kebab skewers and the cat and dog are fighting over food remains. As the paramedics carry you out the door, you imagine the headlines in the local paper, "Woman Collapses After Cooking with Children."

Sure, cooking with your children is a messier and more time-consuming project than cooking solo; it's definitely not something to undertake when you're tired and pressed for time. You don't need to scrounge through women's magazines, however, in order to have a vast array of cutesy children's recipes. These are often time consuming and very rarely nutritious.

Your preschooler will have just as much fun tearing up lettuce, chopping up fruit with a plastic knife, or sifting flour. When my son was about two years old, I figured it was about time to begin improving his culinary awareness skills. (After all, the world needs no more untrained men in the kitchen.) These days, everyone needs to know their way around the kitchen for survival purposes-the days of June and Ward Cleaver are over.

There are other valid reasons, of course, for inviting the kids into the kitchen. I know you think I'm going to say that it's one of those special parent-child bonding experiences. Of course it can be, but food preparation skills are also a springboard for learning. Cooking with your children will promote development in the following areas:



Self Esteem

Cooking encourages your child's independence and autonomy. Children are often proud of their kitchen creations, and will often boast, "Taste it! I made it all by myself." Also, here's the perfect opportunity for your child to try a new vegetable or food that is strongly disliked. Being rather egocentric, young children will generally eat what they've prepared. Salads can take on a whole new meaning for children when they prepare it themselves. Also, learning about food will help children make healthier food choices.  

Language

You can expand your child's vocabulary by incorporating new words into your food preparation: saute, fold, mince, blend, and so on. Your child will learn how to do the activities by doing them. Have older children read and follow recipes, step by step, in order to learn sequencing and how to recall information. Later, you can ask your child to explain to you how "we made jello today."  






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