Cooking with your child

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By: Susan Jackson
Cooking with your kids is a great way to teach your children important life skills and make memories as a family!  4-Hers enrolled in the food project are encouraged to learn food preparation skills.  I remember cooking for the fair and the meals we were encouraged to prepare and record in our record book.  I cannot imagine a person beginning independent living without some background.  You are doing children a great favor when you teach them to cook.

Cindy Brison, MS,RD,LMNT of the University of Nebraska gives us 9 life skills that are encouraged when cooking with kids.

1. Reading:  Cooking experiences provide a natural way for children to learn new vocabulary.  As you talk together about the ingredients you are using, cooking processes and changes observed, they are being introduced to new words and their meanings. Reading the recipe aloud to your child and referring back to it as you cook teaches your child about one of the important purposes of literacy, to provide instruction or information.
2. Knowledge:  Culture cooking together provides a wonderful opportunity to talk informally with your child about types and origins of food, food production and nutrition. Being involved in food preparation, talking about and handling food can also be wonderful for encouraging a child to be more adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.
3. Sensory development:  Cooking with your child engages all of their senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting!
4. Motor skills:  Stirring, whisking, chopping, peeling, beating, kneading, all of these cooking processes provide the opportunity to develop physical skills: both fine, fingers, hands and co-ordination, and gross, arm and body, motor skills.
5. Mathematical concepts:  Cooking experiences provide a hands on way to introduce mathematical concepts to children especially with abstract concepts such as those related to measurement, number, and sequencing.
6. Self esteem:  Children feel a real sense of achievement when they have the opportunity to serve food they have helped to prepare to family and friends.
7. Family traditions:  Food plays an important part in a family’s unique culture. For most families, food plays an important role in both everyday life and special celebrations, and it is the joy and sense of belonging that stems from the repetition of these traditions that stays with children into adulthood.
8. Developing life skills: I have taught children as young as seven who regularly cook a simple meal for their family! Cooking is such a useful life skill and involving them in the kitchen regularly from a young age is a big step towards developing future independence.
9. Keeping communication open:  Making a regular date to work side by side in the kitchen with your child is one way of maintaining regular time to talk together. This time has the potential to become more and more important as they grow and develop, and as the pressures and influences of schooling, peers and life in general become more prominent in their lives.

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