Cooking with the kids: Why even bother teaching them?
Getting your kids involved in the kitchen early on improve their skills, their confidence, they knowledge, and ultimately it makes them independent as they grow up!
Because someone’s gotta cook
In addition to having you as a role model, which is very powerful in encouraging exploration in the kitchen, getting them involved and in charge of cooking some recipes will boost their confidence. It will get them to appreciate the efforts and time required to cook delicious meals!
Making room for kids in the kitchen will teach them how their dinner gets on the table!
Watch and learn…and do
Remember when your kids started to eat solid foods? A whole world opened up for them. New textures, flavours, colours, tastes, smell… everything was new! From discoveries, they will move on to learn how food grow, how to prepare and cook food and how to assemble a balanced meals. They will watch and learn (and imitate!), and eventually venture and try out new things: how to crack and egg, how to use a knife, how to operate the stand mixer, how to wash dishes, how to plan a meal, how to build a grocery list…
There are a lot of things to discover in the kitchen. Kids need time and exposure.
Parenting includes cooking with the kids
Don’t we all want to raise kids who have pleasure in eating, in discovering food from various cultures? Kids who have a healthy relationship with food, including decadent treats? Kids who will become resourceful teenagers leaving home with enough knowledge, skills, experiences to be able to feed themselves as they start their adult life?
Our role as parents is to make room for them in the kitchen. Of course, we can bake them a birthday cake and their favourite home cook meal, but teaching them cooking skills is the real gift to offer them!
Being able to plan and prep a meal is a real gift to offer your children.
Let’s get cooking with the kids!
Not sure what your kids can do in the kitchen? We have you covered by age groups! And learning about food doesn’t happen only in the kitchen! It can be through books, through games and explorations, at the farm or in the grocery store!
As you start including your kids in the kitchen, regardless of their age, your best strategy is to cook when you have time and a clear plan. Try on a weekend and choose an easy and familiar recipe to start with. It allows you to be in the right mindset and gather your patience! You are not cooking efficiently like you might be doing during the week. Here, you are teaching your kids. If the recipe turns alright, see it as a bonus!
Put all chances on your side: include the kids when you have time and energy to guide them through the learning opportunity.
Kids under 4 years old: Exploring and observing (not yet cooking)
Kids that young are curious about what happens in the kitchen. They love to observe what you are doing and to open the cabinet doors! Bring them early on in the kitchen and talk out loud what you are doing and cooking. As they show interest, let them play with non-dangerous kitchen tools like spatula and plastic bowls. As they get more involved in the kitchen, make sure you remove all hazards: handles, sharp knifes, hanging cords of kitchen gadgets, any cleaning products in cabinet they could have access too.
They might not yet be cooking per say, but they have a lot to explore and observe.
Kids 4-6 years old: Learning to cook by imitating adults
Kids that age are discovering and exploring in the kitchen. They are still developing their fine motor skills, so might not be able to precisely hold kitchen tool or do precise movement. They also have short attention span, so short and easy tasks/recipes are the way to go!
You might be surprised how much they can accomplish in the kitchen as they want to imitate you.
Kids 7-9 years old: Learning by experimenting and cooking
Kids aged 7 to 9 years old want to collaborate and work in team. Although they still have short attention span, they are better at remembering and understanding clear indications and details of a recipe. They have better judgment and coordination of movement.
Giving them real important tasks to accomplish will boost their confidence and interest in the kitchen.
Kids 10-12 years old: Learning by reflecting about the process of planning and cooking
Tweens can be in charge of cooking recipes by themselves in the kitchen! If experienced enough, they can manage multiple tasks, understand complex instructions and remember details of recipes. They have good coordination of movement and judgement. They are aware of potential dangers in the kitchen and how to work safely.
At that age, they can cook the family a simple meal, and certainly pack their own lunch. Way to go!
Kids 12+ year old: Kitchen boss!
Teens can be fully functional in the kitchen even without an adult!
They are likely to have enough skills to complete several recipes. See our post on how to cook with teenagers, including our menu plan and recipes.
Emphasis can be on boosting their confidence in cooking a full meal (for the family!) all by themselves; finding the recipes, making the grocery list, and maybe even being trusted to go buy missing ingredients or grocery shop! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? You catch a break, they learn some real life skills. Win-win?
Teenagers can rock the kitchen and cook up meals for the family.