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The Benefits of Cooking with Children

Child baking

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Cooking with children is a terrific way to enjoy a special time with your children and support learning as well. When you are all homebound, it is a great way to relieve stress and add some laughter to the day. It is sometimes difficult if you have different age ranges and abilities with children when trying to keep them learning and entertained at home. Cooking is great for all ages, and you can include even the youngest of children.

Getting started

  1. Start with a plan. What shall we make? Work with your children to list the ingredients.
  2. Talk about what your children like while you are doing this on the fly and pulling ideas from the refrigerator, and plan from there.
  3. Offer choices to simplify the activity. Do you want carrots or celery in the salad?

Your children will be practicing decision-making skills, learning collaboration as well as planning and practicing organization. These are essential skills all children need for success in school and in life.

Using a recipe – where everyone has a job

  1. Children can help with the measuring.
  2. Younger children can assist with pouring tasks, such as placing a piece of tape on the measured line to help them pour the correct amount.
  3. Older children can read out the recipe and measure ingredients as you cook.
  4. You can set the timer and talk about cooking temperatures.

Recipe activities help your children with reading, math and science skills.

Enjoying your labor

  1. Everyone can help by setting the table.
  2. Someone can make personalized placemats with paper and a few crayons or markers.
  3. Everyone will enjoy the meal you have created together. Ask your children what they liked best.

Preparing the table and enjoying the meal teaches sorting, counting, creativity, organizing and fine motor skills.

Reading books about cooking helps to build an understanding of all that goes into cooking while supporting the development of language skills. To provide inspiration, this can be fun at bedtime after you have been cooking together or before you make your meal. I have a few favorites:

  1. Be Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
  2. Feast for Ten by Cathryn Falwell
  3. Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London