Spilled flour, eggshell pieces in the bowl, cut fingers and burned pots… this is what I picture when I think of my kids in the kitchen. I love the IDEA of teaching my kids to cook, but the actual follow through of that has been harder than I anticipated. Every time I let them “help” it is a semi-disaster. They all fight over who gets to stir and who gets to pour (I have 5 that ALL want to help at the same time). Everyone wants to see and everyone is comparing who is helping more. It is frustrating, there are kids all under my feet and I can’t move. I can’t focus amidst whining and tasting and preschoolers needing their hands wiped. Bringing my kids into the kitchen is a a thought that makes my blood pressure rise in sheer overwhelm… can you relate? But I have seen the OTHER side of kids in the kitchen. I have an 8 year old that can now cook a meal beginning to end, that will surprise me with pancakes (and yes, a HUGE mess) in the morning for breakfast. I have seen that it can actually be helpful and there are some huge benefits that make it well worth the effort!
10 Surprising Benefits of Teaching our Kids to Cook!
- It boosts their confidence. You might be thinking confidence in the kitchen but you might be surprised to know that it will build their overall confidence! Our children want to be independent, they want to succeed at something, they want to feel validated and helpful and useful! When they know that they are able to cook something that tastes good, that helps mom and that people enjoy to eat… their confidence grows!
- It encourages kids to be more adventurous eaters. I know 100% that my husband making a meal with ingredients I am not fond of and making that same meal, with the same ingredients, myself is a very different story. I am more likely to eat what I made myself. It doesn’t make sense, but it is true. And science is starting to show that our tastebuds are actually dulled when we make our own food! Our kids are more likely to try new things if they have made and prepared it themselves.
- It brings you closer together. The family that cooks together stays together! The point is that rather than you hurrying to get a meal ready on your own, your kids are in there with you. You can visit while you do it, it is a great way of connecting with our kids!
- It reinforces what they are learning in school. Whether you are homeschooling like me or your kids go to public school, cooking is an AMAZING way of bringing their education into action! They are measuring and adding and multiplying and dividing and problem solving and reading and memorizing and remembering. The amount of “education” in cooking is really quite phenomenal and because they are doing it rather than just reading it in their workbooks, it gives them a life application for those concepts they are learning. It makes it meaningful to them.
- Life skills, life skills, life skills. Okay, this may not be surprising, but it is pretty important! We want our kids to be confident, able bodied, successful people when they grow up. We want them to know how to cook for themselves, where their meals come from, even what kind of work and preparation goes into said meals! This is an important life skill that they aren’t going to learn by watching TV (unless it’s the Food Network, but still, doing is better than watching).
- It is building a healthier generation. We can tell our kids what makes healthy food or we can show them. We can let them be a part of making healthier choices. We can talk to them about the properties of the food we are preparing while we cut and dice and shred and sauté. Every opportunity we take to help our children understand good nutrition is like a little seed. As obesity and food disorders rise, we want to teach our children what nutrition is really about. It is about balance and nutrients and fuelling our bodies.
- It helps foster dinner hour. Studies show that eating together as a family is a key practise to our children’s future. Children that eat together with their families perform better in school, are less likely to suffer from obesity or an eating disorder or substance abuse (according to multiple studies by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse). Our kids are more likely to want to eat together as a family if they have prepared the meal.
- It teaches our kids to be thankful. Children who cook meals in their family know the amount of time and effort that goes into them. They are less entitled and more grateful. They are naturally more respectful around dinner time because they have firsthand experience.
- It teaches children empathy. Have you ever told your children not to say “EW” to a meal? While enough repetition will eventually help our children learn this, when they cook a meal they will fully understand why this is important. Our kids learn empathy when they cook. Empathy towards the cook who worked hard to prepare it. Empathy to other cultures. They learn to accept, to try, to embrace things that are different.
- It is HELPFUL! I know you might be shaking your head, skeptical of this point, but I am here to tell you that a child who knows how to cook a meal or two is so helpful! Imagine if, rather than aimlessly helping you with pouring or stirring, your kids knew how to really cook. I’m talking about washing, cutting, frying, and plating! Imagine if you could take 30 minutes to read a book or do some tidying or have a bath. The more we can get our kids involved, the more helpful they can be, and our kids are smart you guys! They can do this!
Need some help?
If you are anything like me and kids in the kitchen makes you think “gong show!” then I’ve got you! I stumbled across a cooking class that is step-by-step, easy, and fun! It has three different levels for kids ages 3 all the way up and each level has 8 weeks of video instruction for your kids to watch and do! There are printable grocery lists, supply lists, PDF lesson plans, literally everything you need to create a family cooking class that will have you taking a night off (or in my case 2 nights off and a morning) a week! Sound too good to be true? This course is only offered a few times each year, so keep checking in and join the wait list if nothing is showing up. It has recently opened up for a last minute course offering now through August 24th! Take a look at this short intro video to learn more.
We have decided we are going to implement it as a fully fledged cooking class. How? We are using all three levels of the program so that we can all do this together as a family. I will get enough ingredients for all my kids to do the cooking together (we will be eating a LOT of food) so that there is no fighting and they each have their own station. We will take turns cooking in batches of two so that no one is fighting over stirring and they are able to do it entirely from start to finish. The lessons are done once a week so that gives me time to print off my shopping list for the week, grab what I need, and work it into our homeschool schedule. My 4 year old up to my 9 year old will be participating in the course and they are SO excited about it and a little shocked they will be allowed to use a knife and everything!
The reality is, I know the value of teaching my kids to cook. But I don’t have the time, the will, or the patience to figure out how to do that. This course has it all done for me. All the recipes, video instruction geared for kids, printable shopping lists and more! I just have to have the ingredients and go and it is going to force me to seriously train my kids to be more than just helpers… but to start taking over some of these meals for good! I am envisioning my kids’ names on my meal plan for the week, how cool would that be?
Would you join me?
I like doing things in groups you guys, it’s just fun. I am not a trendsetter, I like my herd. I am more motivated with a group of people, I love sharing pics and seeing other people’s pics and sharing frustrations and struggles and getting new perspectives and ideas. I would LOVE for you to join me on this journey. I have set up a Facebook group just for you guys (and me) for people who are doing this course. All you have to do to sign up is sign up for the course HERE (remember, it expires on August 24) and come join the Facebook group HERE once you have purchased it. Then come and say hi on Facebook and let’s create a community of moms who are going to do this! We are going to get our kids on that rotation and chat on the phone with each other while they cook.