The Benefits of Cooking with Kids

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Kim Raymond, an Army spouse, helps her daughter Mackenzie to cut an onion during a cooking class at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., March 21, 2015. The class gave both mother and daughter the opportunity to bond, learn about eating healthy whole foods and incorporate them into their daily meals. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sinthia Rosario, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Getting kids into the kitchen to cook with you is a win-win situation, no matter how old
they are and no matter what you make. By interacting with you in the kitchen, your
child will gain more than just learning how to cook. First and foremost, you will have
the opportunity to foster a greater sense of intimacy between you and your child. Here
are a few other positive results from interacting together in the kitchen, which are then
further broken down into age groups:

  • Reading and following recipes improves math, science, and reading
    comprehension skills.
  • Eating dishes from other countries enables learning about other cultures,
    foreign languages, and geography, and provides a culinary vocabulary.
  •  Learning about food preparation enhances organ i zational and cleanli-
    ness skills.
  • Chances are greater that your child will eat the healthy food you are
    making if he helps.
  • Cooking together strengthens feelings of responsibility and being a val-
    ued member of the team, which will form a lifetime of good memories
    and help to strengthen bonds.

Preschool: Fine motor skills are enhanced with motions such as pouring and stir-
ring; counting ingredients and amounts teaches simple math skills; and working as a
team reinforces socializing, learning how to share, and taking turns.

Elementary: Math, science, and reading skills are practiced and improved; an un-
derstanding of other cultures and traditions can be taught; the rudiments of nutrition
can be learned; and basic cooking skills are learned.

Teenagers: Cooking skills and techniques are refined and knowledge of global cui-
sine can be enhanced; a sense of success and accomplishment is gained by making a
dish or a whole meal.
How can you get the kids more involved in the kitchen? Here are five steps to a success-
ful time together:
1. Ask them what they’d like to make to give them a sense of control and
self- worth.
2. Read the recipe first together so that you know what happens and in
what order.
3. Take out all of the ingredients ahead of time and have the proper tools
ready and grouped in the order in which you’re going to use them.
4. Have towels at the ready.
5. Practice patience and have a sense of humor—the two most valuable
tools!