Children gain immense benefits from learning how to cook for themselves from a young age. Not only does it teach them to appreciate where food comes from, but they will develop the independence and skills necessary to cook healthy food for themselves once they leave home. Cooking also transforms a regular room in your home into a learning environment and an arena for creativity, which is great if you live in an apartment, and don’t have the space for a dedicated play area.
If you’re on the fence about teaching your children to cook, here a few of the best reasons.
Cooking Boosts Confidence
Even grownups know that sense of accomplishment you get when you have cooked dinner from scratch. You feel as if no cooking challenge (or life challenge) can be too great if you set your mind to it. When your child is about to say they cooked something themselves—especially if they can share their cooking with the family—they will experience a boost in confidence that could start to impact other parts of their lives. Imagine the joy your children will experience when they make their own snacks.
Expanding Culinary Horizons
Something parents often forget when it comes to mealtimes is that kids’ taste buds are more sensitive at a young age. That first encounter with a new flavor can be a mind-blowing experience for them. In some instances, the taste is amazing, while other foods may not be such a great experience. It’s no wonder, then, that many kids don’t like to try new foods. Encouraging your kids to cook for themselves can be a great way to get them to sample new things. When they have cooked a meal for themselves, they are more likely to have at least a bite of the food they have prepared, even if it’s just to see what it tastes like.
Teaching your child to cook yourself can be a great bonding experience, but their cooking sessions don’t have to be limited to the amount of time you have available. If you can find trusted nannies who can help your child in the kitchen, even better. If your nanny comes from another culture, your child will get to experience new flavors and eating traditions that they may not otherwise be exposed to.
Learning to Fail
Research has shown that a little failure can be a good thing for children. The kitchen is a perfect environment for a kid to learn that sometimes in life, things don’t go to plan. Sometimes it’s not going to turn out how you wanted it to, and that’s okay. But that shouldn’t mean that you don’t try again tomorrow. While your child is guaranteed to experience success and failure in life, many children don’t learn to deal with this fact of life until they are exposed to it in the real world. Letting your kids get a taste of this in a safe low-stakes environment, is a good way to help them learn this lesson. They may be upset when that first pancake turns out a flop, but watch their faces as the second and the third come out just the way they hoped! (For the record, first pancakes are almost always the ugliest, even for pros)
Whether they’re whipping up a cake or shelling peas, getting your children into the kitchen with you can be rewarding for you both. Teach them safety and cleanliness, but then let them go. Our adult daughter is a personal chef; she credits her success in the kitchen to being encouraged when young.