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Cooking with children…

Just the words can often conjure up a variety of different images and emotions.  Fun and excitement for children, chaos and mess for parents…

When my children were little and suggested we do some cooking, I would often scrabble around for excuses to avoid the mess and chaos cooking with children can involve.  However, cooking with children is a great opportunity for them to learn a number of really useful skills and have fun at the same time.

That said, it often involves a few deep breaths and some careful planning before you start.

Next time the children ask to do some cooking, rather than desperately looking for an excuse (I’m guilty of this!), here are 7 reasons why you should take a deep breath, say YES, get stuck in and have fun…

It’s Real Life Science… 

Cooking is a science experiment – your children will learn that the right combination of ingredients, in the right volumes will create a cooking success.  Getting the volumes wrong, forgetting ingredients, cooking at the wrong temperature or for the wrong amount of time could all potentially lead to cooking disasters.  Cooking is all about Cause and Effect – something which can be difficult for young children to understand.  Cooking helps explain this in an easy fun way.

Cooking is hands on early science for children and a great way to start them learning about science in a fun way.

Helps with Reading and Comprehension 

As children learn to read, encouraging them to read the step-by-step instructions in a recipe is a fun way for them to practice their reading.  As you are doing this together, you can help with any words they can’t read or don’t understand in a relaxed and friendly way.  They won’t feel like they are practising their reading, they’ll feel like they’re helping you with an important job and having fun at the same time.

Improves their maths

Cooking is a great way to help build children’s basic maths skills in a fun, accessible way.  Reading out the quantities needed, measuring and weighing – all really important skills for children to understand and practice.  Introducing this whilst they’re cooking doesn’t feel like a chore – and cooking certainly won’t feel like homework!

Helps develop Hand-Eye Coordination & Fine Motor Skills 

Measuring out different ingredients, stirring, mixing, pouring, stamping biscuit shapes – all will help your child with their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and expose them to different textures and feelings.   Just make sure you’re close to hand at all times, so can step in if a little hand suddenly grabs for a knife or hot pan!

Encourages children to try new foods

Cooking healthy, home made food with your children allows a chance to talk about the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.  Children are more likely to try new foods they’ve been involved in preparing – so getting them cutting up some of the vegetables (under close supervision) can help encourage them to try foods they’ve refused to try in the past.

Teaches a life skill

Nowadays, with so much focus on fast food and convenience foods and the nutritional concerns involved, teaching your child how to cook from scratch is such a valuable skill, which they will definitely thank you for as they get older.   So many people nowadays claim not to know how to cook healthy food.  Cooking with children and talking about the nutritional benefits of different ingredients, will help them learn from an early age about the importance of eating healthy, nutritious food.

Teaches Cooperation & Sharing

Giving children different chores and responsibilities can help them learn that whilst they are doing different things, they are working together to create something.  There may be squabbles over who gets to do the mixing, weighing or pouring – but gradually they will realise that if they share and work together, they will have much more fun and will be learning how to work as part of a team.

It’s Fun!

It may be messy and a major clean up operation may be needed afterwards, but cooking with children is fun!   Their excitement and enthusiasm is catching and it’s a great way to spend a rainy afternoon – doing a fun activity together.  They will love being involved, chatting with you as you work, the responsibility you are giving them to do various jobs, mixing ingredients and getting messy and being part of creating something delicious (hopefully!)

Ideally they’ll also help with the cleaning up afterwards – I’m still working on this with my children!

 

 

To help keep the mess under control, our aprons are perfect for budding little chefs – they’re fully wipe clean so spills and splashes can be wiped off quickly and easily afterwards

Our splash mats double up as mini tablecloths which can help protect tables from all the mess involved when baking.  Alternatively our oilcloth by the metre is great for a stylish wipe clean tablecloth – protecting your table when cooking / baking as well as at messy mealtimes.

Next week, we’ll be sharing our top tips for starting cooking with children.

Bye for now

Helen x