Why Cooking Classes Are Great For a Child’s Development
In the traditional sense, culinary schools are usually geared toward adult learners who want to start a career in a restaurant or other formal cooking capacity. However, many schools and independent culinary facilities are taking advantage of a new trend that skips adult learning altogether: cooking classes for kids.
In our house, we started teaching the girls to cook at a very young age. We let them watch at first but as soon as they could hold a wooden spoon, we encourage them to help stir ingredients. Now only was it fun for them, it was a treat for me to have them in the kitchen.
Children who learn cooking skills early on are believed to make better food choices as they age, and gain everything from safety knowledge to greater confidence in all areas of life. I have several posts written on this at:
Like a sports team or weekly dance class, most culinary classes for kids offer a once-a-week format in which kids come together to learn in a classroom setting. Classes range from those for very young children (3 to 5 years old) up through the teen years, offering different types of curriculum from basic baking to more advanced ethnic cuisines.
Why Send Your Child to a Cooking Class?
Food and cooking skills are something that just about anyone can benefit from, regardless of whether or not a career as a chef is in their future. All too often, children are kept out of the kitchen for safety reasons or because it is faster (and easier) if a parent does all the work putting the food on the table.
While these are certainly valid points, kids who aren’t offered hands-on learning opportunities are more likely to turn to fast food and pre-packaged meals when it comes time to start cooking on their own. Not only are these options more expensive, but they tend to be much more fattening, and can impact everything from your child’s body image to his or her overall health.
However, there’s more to it than healthy, self-sustained eating. Cooking requires basic knowledge in chemistry (how the application of heat changes items), biology (where food comes from), math (measuring and timing), and management (getting everything together in a timely fashion).
Helping to prepare a meal also makes kids much more likely to appreciate the food and actually sit down and try new things. Studies have shown that kids who get their food right from its source (picking an apple from the tree or grinding whole spices with a mortar and pestle) are more likely to enjoy the end result.
Some of the more popular culinary programs offered at the youth level include:
The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) Kids in the Kitchen, which offers lessons in over 250 locations worldwide
The American Culinary Federation (ACF), which is one of the top-tier overseeing bodies of the entire culinary profession, and offers youth classes in select areas
Smaller, independently-owned programs might also be available in your city; be sure they comply with all local laws regarding food preparation before you sign up. - Here's a list of a few cooking schools for children.
Of course, if there aren’t any culinary programs for kids available where you live, this is also a skill that can be taught right at home. Your own culinary background can do wonders for helping your children to grow and develop new skills – not to mention helping you find a great way to spend time together.