Teaching kids cooking has loads of benefits – and it’s fun too!
08 November, 2023
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus snacks in between – we humans sure eat a lot of meals! Next time you’re in the kitchen, consider inviting your child to help. You’ll be teaching them so much more than just how to prepare food.
Cooking with kids provides loads of opportunities for children to develop a whole range of skills. It’s also a great way to introduce kids to a wide variety of foods and to help shape their attitudes around healthy eating. Children are more likely to try a new food if they have helped to prepare it. And possibly the best benefit of kids cooking? Time spent in the kitchen is so much sweeter when you have the company of your much-adored little helper. You’ll both treasure the memories of time spent together baking – and licking the beaters!
The benefits of cooking with children
Encouraging kids cooking helps children with their growth and development in a number of ways:
Stirring, pouring and kneading help children with their hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Using cups and spoons to measure ingredients helps children to develop numeracy skills, and talking to children about recipes and helping them to understand and follow the steps helps to build their language and communication skills.
Helping children to master new skills, such as cracking an egg, icing a cupcake or spooning jam into jam drops helps to build their self-esteem and independence, and encourages creativity – terrific benefits of cooking with children!
Kids cooking together with a parent is a lovely bonding activity and helps to develop the parent-child relationship. It also helps to build children’s social skills as you interact and work together.
Cooking with kids – toddlers
Toddlers tend to have short attention spans, so you may want to consider preparing simple foods together where you can work alongside your toddler and keep them engaged. Toddlers enjoy exploring colourful foods, with different shapes and textures, so give them opportunities to touch and taste. Choose a time when you’re not rushed to prepare a meal so you can show plenty of patience. Give your toddler lots of praise and encouragement so they enjoy cooking and want to do it again.
Simple tasks for toddlers include:
- Washing fruit/vegetables;
- Gathering ingredients from the pantry or fridge;
- Helping to stir, mash, scoop or pour ingredients, and;
- Adding toppings to toast or a pizza, or making a fruit or garden salad.
Cooking with kids – preschoolers
Preschoolers can begin to take on more responsibility with tasks in the kitchen and cooking together can be an opportunity to start conversations about the importance of healthy foods, where produce comes from and how to choose healthier options.
Cooking activities for preschoolers could include:
- Setting the table;
- Wiping down benches;
- Putting away ingredients independently, and;
- Serving food.
You may like to try making homemade dips, muffins, mashed potatoes, yoghurt parfaits, overnight oats, sandwiches, toasties or wraps or hamburgers.
Cooking with kids – primary school children
Once children are old enough to start school, they’re ready to understand more difficult concepts, such as the role food plays in fuelling our bodies and how we can choose “in-season” fruits and vegetables. Children can be involved in shopping and choosing fresh produce and checking use-by dates on packaging.
School-aged children may like to help prepare foods such as pancakes, soup, fried rice or stir fry, burrito bowls, omelettes, pasta, homemade muesli or – for a treat – honeyjoys or chocolate crackles.
Here are five easy recipes to try cooking with your children this weekend.
Edge Early Learning’s approach to cooking
At Edge Early Learning, we have in-house chefs who make sure the food we’re cooking for kids is always nutritionally balanced. At play times, we provide children with bowls and spoons and other kitchen utensils to encourage imaginative play.