How Cooking Can Give Your Children Self Confidence
AND Learn How To Follow Directions
Cooking with kids is often employed by creative and intrepid classroom teachers. Remember though, that you are your child's first and best teacher, so take a page out of the teacher's manual and cook with your children. Cooking promotes language development, cooperation, following directions, sequencing and a host of other skills, both social and academic. It pays to start early.
Please be sure to check out my post called Teaching Your Kids To Cook. It describes more of the benefits of teaching your children cooking in your own kitchens and is part of my new segment called Kids Can Cook.
Children begin to develop large muscle coordination long before they develop fine motor coordination, so while you wouldn't ask a two-year-old to measure out a teaspoon of baking soda, you could certainly ask him/her to hand you the box of baking soda. With young children, you also can ask them to get plastic containers out of the cabinet or just talk to them about the ingredients you are using.
You can play naming games ranging from "point to the butter,"to "What is this called?" depending on the child's language development.
Exposure to vocabulary is vital in a child's language development, but it just seems silly to show a toddler flashcards. Language play is much more meaningful and has more impact when it is presented in a relaxed and context-based environment. The non-teacher translation of that is to teach cooking terminology while you are actually cooking.
When you get right down to it, cooking is really about following directions. We all start cooking with the directions right in front of us.
If we practice enough, we can cook with the directions stored in our heads. Cooking with kids is a wonderful way to reinforce following directions. You can show real life examples of what happens when you do and do not follow directions. Use high heat instead of low heat, and you end up burning your onions.
I'm not suggesting that you ruin your food, but I think it is important to talk to your kids about why you do things in a certain way and what could happen if you don't.
Cooking with two or more children can be stressful, but this scenario also gives you the opportunity to teach cooperation. You can assign separate steps to different children (Jimmy, you crack the eggs, and Mary, you stir them in), or you can have the children share steps (Jimmy, you crack one egg and stir it in; Mary, you crack the next one and stir it in).
Either way, it's important that you encourage them to work together and frequently reinforce the enjoyment of cooking as well as pointing out how proud you are that the children are working together. This is a great time to use words like "sharing," "cooperation," and "taking turns."
Again, teaching these concepts in a natural, contextually rich setting will help to reinforce the concepts with your kids.
One of the greatest gifts that cooking with your kids can give is helping to instill confidence in your children. Knowing that they can start and then complete a task can help to build self esteem and confidence. Knowing that they helped to put lunch, dinner or dessert on the table and that the rest of the family is enjoying it can really be a confidence booster, even for the most timid or shy children.
Now, remember that your kids, especially at first, might be hesitant in the kitchen and will certainly make mistakes. It is up to you as the parent to encourage your child/children every step of the way and to frame mistakes as learning experiences. Always keep the "feel" of the cooking experience positive and relaxed. Learn to laugh at the little mistakes, and buy stock in Brawny!
hi, i totally agree with you. And its fun teaching kids especially when you see them so eager to learn. Honestly speaking children are easy to teach than grown ups. hahahaha! I can say this because i have taught my niece whom i raised to cook and bake. I started teaching her when she was 4yrs old. She is now 13yrs old and she can bake her own cookies and cakes.
The funny thing there is, once some college students of mine when to my house and taught them how to bake. My niece said, "mama, how come they work that way? they are not organized and they are so messy...... look mama they don't know how to bake. How come i can?" she even said that in a loud voice. Nica was only 7 or 8yrs old back then when that happened. My college students were so embarassed. And funny thing there was my niece was the one who taught them some other recipes.
Now one of my chefs uniform is now her uniform when she bakes at home. Parents, godparents, aunties or uncle, brothers or sister... encourage small kids to bake with you. Allow them to enjoy these things. In the long run you are teaching them to be more creative and to be more diciplined.
Great post. Thank you for adding your story. Are you still working as a chef?
Great Post! It's a lot of great info!
Sounds like a great idea for cooking with kids! Thanks for sharing!