How many children are actually cooking nowadays? With the popularity of Master Chef Australia, about 2 million adults (including myself) and kids love watching the TV show. I believe that many kids would be very inspired to get themselves in the kitchen and cook up a storm!
What can children learn from cooking?
Here are 10 Fantastic Reasons why children can benefit from cooking:
1. Self Confidence
When children successfully cook a dish, they will gain great satisfaction and build self confidence. They will develop a healthy self-belief system so they can achieve anything if they set their mind to it.
2. Learn Maths Skills
Children learn about measurement – Understand the concept of measurement, such as volume, quantity, shape, weight, timing and estimates.
Volume – Liters or milliliters for water, milk, oil, or a cup of milk, water.
Weight – Kilograms/grams of butter, flour or a cup or ½ cup of flour
Shapes – different dishes require ingredients to be cut/prepared differently.
Estimates – learn what it means when the recipe says pinch of salt, estimate the length of different cuts…estimate the amount of time to prepare the ingredients.
They also learn about the timing of the cooking; for example, they have to learn how to set the timer to make sure the food is cooked within the time frame and how to set the oven.
Time Management – children have to learn how to allocate time for preparation and cooking – before the joy of eating.
3. Learn to differentiate food through the 5 senses – Taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch
Touch: Learn to feel the texture of the food, for example to feel the different texture of meat, flour, different types of vegetables, different texture of cakes, i.e. too soft, too moist, too dry etc.
Smell – Learn about food through smell, such as spices and herbs.
Sight – Learn to differentiate and identify food through colour, for example, identifying red and green capsicum, differentiate ripe and unripe papaya, see if a cake has risen or not….
Taste – This is the best part of it. Children can learn different tastes, i.e. hot, spicy, sweet or sour.
Hearing – Listening to the blender working, chopping the raw ingredients, pounding with pastel and mortar (different ingredients have different sound)….., sound of stir frying, deep frying, the sound of pots and pans…..
4. Family Connections
Children can develop a close relationship with family members through cooking.
- Parents can talk about food during dinner time. If the food was prepared by your child, it will be a real focus point of conversation. Talk about their inspiration for the food, what did they experience when handling the ingredients, did they enjoy the experience etc.
- If the parents cook together with the child, this is a fantastic opportunity to open up conversation, i.e. read the recipe together, talk about the steps on how to go about it, which ingredients to prepare first etc.
- This is the best part of all….Parents can take their children shopping, and this will establish the connection between the parent and child through shopping together for the same items.
5. Learning to read and follow instructions.
This is very important. Children need to learn how to follow instructions. I have seen very creative amateur chefs on the Master Chef program, who have a tendency to divert from following the recipe and instructions, and tend to find themselves lost half way through the process. Following instructions and remain focused is very important for children’s discipline and development.
6. Language skills
Children learn descriptive words on how to describe the food, for example crunchy, spicy, salty, lumpy, wet, mushy, chewy and more. Children can openly describe what they are feeling, which helps their understanding of this world.
Cooking is a very creative exercise. From the examples of the Master Chef, the contestants are given the same ingredients, but everyone produces different dishes… Through cooking, your children will be encouraged to develop their creativity and what inspires them. Creativity extends to the presentation of the food.
8. Motor skills
Children will learn how to use the utensils, pots and pans, knives and other equipment in the kitchen. They also learn about cleaning up after themselves!
9. Knowing the name and origin of the food.
We can learn about the name of the dishes…. And then explore the countries where the recipes or spices came from. The interest may then even grow into having a herb or vegetable garden at home.
10. The love of cooking
We hear that cooking comes from the heart, and most of all, we cook for the people we love. So when your child serves up a good dish, you know that it comes from the heart with love! Priceless!!
Copyright © Lay Ean Eng 2011, GoKids/GoParents.