Benefits of Cooking in Early Childhood (and Beyond)

what skills do children enhance through cooking

I’ve been cooking with my daughter since she was old enough to stand at the stove. It’s something she has always naturally shown interest in, so I took advantage of that. I was happy that the two different preschools we initially had her in embraced “cooking” (making some kind of recipe) at least once per week. Now that I’m homeschooling, we’ve included it as part of our weekly curriculum (in addition to what she naturally helps with anyway). Why are we embracing this as part of our curriculum? Because it teaches kids so much!

So, what skills do children enhance through cooking?

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). It’s an active learning process that keeps kids engaged no matter how they best learn.

2. Cooking helps with reading and math skills.

Even if your kids can’t read or do math, cooking exposes them to these skills. When Ella 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 helps her practice her numbers and become comfortable with fractions. I also talk to her about two 1/2 cups make up a  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 and recipe math.

3. Cooking increases communication with your kids.

Have you ever tried to talk to your kids and got nothing out of them, but a few minutes later you play a video game with them and they start spilling their guts? It’s the same with cooking.

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.

4. Cooking teaches nutrition to children.

It’s important to teach good nutrition.. Cooking with kids gives you a chance to talk to them (and show them) items that are better choices for recipes and eating.

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 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!

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.

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