From creativity to family bonding, there are ample reasons why getting your kids involved in the kitchen is a great idea. As well as being a fun activity, cooking can be an exciting alternative to teaching children in the classroom, as it often incorporates skills such as maths, self-efficiency to coordination.
Whilst many families are currently restricted to their homes, now is the perfect time to introduce the little ones to baking or cooking. Here’s some tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen and why it’s so important.
To spark excitement with children early on, get them involved in the planning of a meal or recipe. Talk them through the options and craft a list of ingredients together, so they understand the process from start to finish. Let each child take it in turns in choosing a meal and give them praise on this, to make them feel good about their decision-making skills.
Allow them to take pride in their creations by encouraging them to craft up a menu to share with the rest of the family and asking everybody for feedback afterwards.
Whilst cooking with children is a great source of fun, being safe is vital. With lots of potential hazards in the kitchen, from hot ovens to sharp knives and also a manual knife sharpener, it’s important to have an adult present at all times. To minimise risks, involve young children in tasks that require safe tools like whisking, measuring and weighing whilst teaching older children the correct way to handle the more dangerous equipment.
Highchairs or even play pens can be a great way to keep toddlers and younger children involved and out of harm’s way, whilst you’re busy in the kitchen, freeing up your time to supervise those involved.
Make sure everybody washes their hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before touching any food or appliances. An effective way to imprint handwashing from a young age is to sing a song whilst doing it, roughly for around 30 seconds.
With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s more important than ever to educate little ones on nutrition. Discuss which foods are healthy and which are not; teach them that whilst they’re allowed to have chocolate and cakes occasionally, they know that this is a treat. Demonstrate healthy portion sizes and explain the reasoning behind this, such as why adults may need more food and children slightly less. Inclusion from a young age, will give them the knowledge to make their own healthy decisions later down the line.
Use the right equipment
Make sure the tools and equipment you’re using are in line with your child’s skill level, so they don’t feel out of their depth. For younger children that struggle to reach the surface, introduce a sturdy stool to bring them up to your level, helping them to feel involved. If children show an interest in cooking or baking regularly, it may be worth investing in their own equipment. There are ample child-friendly knives, choppers and peelers, which will encourage them to be involved and make them feel special.
As well as educating children in the kitchen, make sure you’re all having fun. Laugh at any mistakes they make as opposed to criticising them, as this will teach them it’s OK if things don’t turn out perfectly. Whether it’s decorating their own pizza or adding artificial colouring to anything and everything, give children free reign to be creative and use their imagination.
Praise their efforts no matter how things look or taste, so they feel proud of their achievements and want to get involved again next time.