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10 reasons to get your kids into the kitchen

October 29, 2014

If getting your kids into the kitchen sounds a bit daunting, you aren’t alone. There’s the extra time and the mess and the trouble. It’s easy to think that things might be simpler if we sent our kids off to play while we handled dinner alone. However, we might be overlooking some great opportunities for us and for our kids.

Here are some of the reasons you should get your kids into the kitchen:

Helps teach literacy. Whether you’re working with a preschooler or older kids, there’s something for everyone. Ask your child to help you read the recipes. For younger kids, have them look at the pictures on the back of cake mixes or muffin boxes and correlate the words associated with the pictures. It can be as simple as pointing out that “Egg” starts with the letter “E.”

Allows them to practice following directions. Every good cook knows that following directions on a recipe is a must. Helping your child to follow step-by-step directions will teach them patience and the importance of paying attention to detail. This can only help as they attempt to follow their teacher’s directions in the classroom.

Teaches mathematical concepts. Ask your child to help you measure the ingredients needed. When the recipe calls for ¼ cup, ask them what they think it means. Is ¼ cup bigger or smaller than ½ cup? Hands-on experience working with these concepts allows kids to develop a greater understanding of mathematics. Ask them how much they would need to double the recipe. Challenge them if you can!

Develops life skills. It’s just plain old good sense. Teaching your kids how to cook is just another tool to help them become self-sufficient young adults. Don’t wait until you’re about to send your kid off to college. Start teaching them to cook at a young age so that when they’re on their own, they’ll be able to provide healthy meals for themselves instead of relying on unhealthy options like take-out.

Provides quality time. Kids crave (and need) one-on-one time with us. What better way to accomplish that than making them a part of something we are already doing, like making dinner? Use this time together to talk about their day, what they’re going through and what they’re thinking about. Sometimes having a common task to provide a little distraction allows kids (especially older ones) to relax and open up the conversation without being put on the spot.

Builds self esteem. Cooking is a skill, and it’s an important one. By allowing your child to participate with you, you are equipping them with valuable knowledge. They will feel proud of what they’ve accomplished and excited to build on these skills over time.

Teaches responsibility. The rule in our kitchen is this: clean as you go. The cook must clean up their mess, so have your children be a part of the cleaning process as well. This allows them to take responsibility and learn from you how things should be cleaned and managed.

Increases the likelihood of trying new foods. Children who are involved in the cooking process are much more open to trying new foods. It’s exciting to try something that you helped make, so get them on board by getting them into the kitchen.

Helps develop fine motor skills. Stirring, whisking, kneading- many of the basic kitchen tasks are a great opportunity for your young one to develop fine motor skills. Go ahead. Let them give it a try!

It’s fun! Yes, it can get messy and time consuming, so maybe it’s not an everyday thing, but getting into the kitchen with your kids can also be really fun. Whether it’s holiday cookies or an average weeknight dinner, your kids will enjoy it (and you might, too).