Cooking with your little ones takes patience (a lot of it!) and time but the benefits make it well worth setting aside the time and effort to let your child help you cook. Now that Christmas is on its way (it’s the 8th December and only 2 weeks and a bit to go!!), instead of getting all hot and bothered in the kitchen it might be time to include your kids in the daily food run and have some fun at the same time!5 Great Reasons to cook with your kid
Obesity & Fast Food link
Obesity is on the increase in South Africa. More and more parents are so busy working they rely on take-aways to fill their tummies as quickly as possible at the end of a hard day. This can lead to the children growing up relying on fast food which is unhealthy for them (and for you!). However, if a parent makes the effort to cook at home and involves the little people in the cooking it can make a lasting difference in the way that those children will perceive food, its preparation and its health giving properties.
If giving your child the best chance to avoid obesity is not enough of a reason, here are 5 other good reasons to let your kids help you prepare home-cooked meals:
1: Maths Skills
Whether you realise it or not, cooking is a maths lesson packed with fun! If you have pre-school kids, they can learn counting skills by counting out how many eggs you are going to use or how many teaspoons of sugar. Your child who is just starting out in primary school can learn fractions in a real world setting of your kitchen when you ask them for half a teaspoon of whatever or three quarters of a cup of something else. I hated fractions when I first encountered them as I just couldn’t grasp the concept of what they meant. Perhaps if my mom had let me into her kitchen (which was her castle!) to help I may not have been so frightened by fractions that I used to climb out of the classroom window and go and hide in the cloakroom until the lesson was over! Multiplication and division skills can also get honed in the kitchen setting as a child has to calculate new amounts of an ingredient.
2: Health Values
Fast food is fast (excuse the pun!) becoming the norm in our society where most parents arrive home really tired from a hard day at the office and the quickest way to satisfy everyone’s hunger is to buy fast food on the way home. So home cooked meals are rapidly fading away. Home cooked meals are likely to be more balanced than fast food and have better portion control, contain less salt, sugars and fats. So by cooking at home you are giving your child a lifelong habit of choosing healthy foods. If you are lucky, their palates will develop to enjoy these foods in preference to fast foods. Cooking at home will not only give them health benefits, but will also prove to be cost effective.
3: Secrets of Science
Cooking also imparts some secrets of science! Your child will learn about the effect of too much baking soda. Or not enough flour. And how hot the pan has to get before the butter will melt. What happens when you forget to add the eggs to a cake mixture? (I’ve actually done this – placed the baking tin in the oven, turned around only to find the bowl with the beaten eggs looking at me from the counter top!). Cooking will help your child to learn attention to detail and what happens if a mistake is made (the cake was as flat as a pancake in my case!).
4: Quality Time
Cooking with a child gives you one on one time with that child. If you allow your child to help you to prepare a meal, you get quality time with him or her and your child will learn one of life’s most valuable skills….cooking for themselves when they finally leave home. It makes him or her feel special. They can talk to you about their day and any worries that they may have. It turns cooking from what could be a chore for you into a fun time to be had with your child as you laugh and cook together.
5: Self Worth
As your child sees the end result of his or her cooking efforts their self confidence will soar. Family members who eat the food and, hopefully, comment on how good it is, give instant feed back to the child who has helped with its preparation. Your child will also get to know the effort involved in preparing and cooking a meal and will appreciate a good meal prepared by his or her mom or dad. A child can also learn the importance of doing the best they can and not to take shortcuts (like leaving out the eggs!) as he or she can see (and taste!) the consequence of doing so. Being shown appreciation for the meal he or she has helped cook goes a long way to building up a childs confidence in themselves.
So, give it a bash. Try it out at first over the weekend when you are not so tired and then choose simple, easy to prepare meals for during the week, ones in which your little one can help. If they are very young, sit them in their high chair and let them watch you as you count out the eggs or weigh out the flour. Then, as they get to the toddler stage, stand them on a stable surface next to you so that they can actually break the eggs into the bowl and so on. Keep an eye on them so that they don’t fall off whatever they are standing on! (I did say that you need a lot of patience!). Whatever you are making, just turn it into a fun, one on one session and even you might even enjoy cooking again!
I’d love to hear about your cooking experiences with your little ones and not so little ones! There are 3 ways to connect with me: Drop me a line in the comments box below or click on the facebook “send us a message” or email me at email@example.com
Yours in newborn photography