Tuesday, November 3, 2015

20 Benefits of Teaching Your Kids to Cook & Bake

I have not always encouraged my boys to help out in the kitchen like I probably should have.

Mainly because I love cooking and baking and I always used it as a way to relax.

But I knew I should be encouraging my boys too cook and bake.  It's a vital life skill and I want them to be able to be fully self sufficient as they go out into the world on their own.  Over the past few years I've made it a goal to include them in the kitchen more and have even let them take over a time or two as their skills have developed enough.

It hasn't always been easy for me but I'm loving all the benefits.  I have found at least 20 different benefits to having my kids in the kitchen.  Here are all the reasons why it's such a great idea to teach kids how to cook and bake:


  1. Developing reading and reading comprehension skills-- my oldest son in particular was never a confident reader and I've found that there's nothing like handing him a recipe to make him slow down and really make sure he's understanding what they're telling him to do.  He's showing more confidence and is more likely to take over the kitchen completely to put together a new recipe.  
  2. Building math skills-- There's nothing like reading recipes to show kids how important fractions are. We often have to double recipes in order to feed our family (especially during the holidays!) and so my boys have had to add fractions in their heads.  They've learned to reduce fractions and which measurement is best used.  
  3. Increasing their vocabularies-- my boys already have quite an extensive vocabulary but there are many terms that are pretty specific to cooking and baking that they have had to learn in order to understand what the recipe is telling them to do.  Like all vocab words they have later found relations between these new words and other words in their lives.  
  4. It's a vital life skill!-- One of the greatest benefits, of course, is that they can now feed themselves for life.  Each time we cook they gain a bit more knowledge and a few new foods to work with. 
  5. It's a great way to learn about nutrition--  My boys have been very surprised to learn that many foods they though of as "healthy" were actually loaded with butter or sugar or salt.  Being together in the kitchen always leads to some sort of talk about nutrition and I often show them how we can modify recipes to make them healthier. 
  6. Experiencing science concepts first hand -- We call baking "kitchen science" because it is!  What better way to learn about physical changes than taking some flour, sugar, milk and eggs and making something completely delicious out of it.  We've talked about the importance of baking soda, salt and baking powder; why they're used in recipes and have learned first hand what happens if you mix up the measurements or forget to double that in a recipe.  
  7. Gaining confidence-- my kids were nervous in the kitchen at first and that made having them help difficult.  There were so many things I felt like they couldn't do but the more they asked why or how I was doing something the more they learned until they were able to take over.  They have been able to help out in ways I would never have guessed-- like when Alec asked to help cook foods on the grill so he could learn how to cook all the different kinds of meat that way.  I've watched them blossom and their beaming smiles are worth any of the extra effort having them helping may have prompted on my part.  This increase in confidence has made them much more independent too!  
  8. Allows for one on one time-- With three boys I can't often find time to spend with just one of them but cooking has helped.  Typically only person is helping out at at time and naturally we talk about anything and everything while waiting on the next step in a recipe.  It's given us something to bond over and helping us make memories together. 
  9. Willingness to try new foods-- I have a few picky eaters and helping out in the kitchen has helped them to broaden their palettes just a bit.  While I can't say they embrace all new foods they are usually more apt to try something that they had a hand in creating.  
  10. Teaches time management-- There's nothing like needing to have dinner done by dinnertime to teach the boys the importance of time management.  They're also getting practice with estimating elapsed time so they know when to come and check back on the food (if it's a recipe that allows us to leave the kitchen and wait).  
  11. Encourages creativity-- My kids have learned that there are very recipes that I actually follow to the letter.  They see me substitute ingredients all the time and they're starting to become more creative with what they prepare as well.  I encourage them to think, smell, taste and explore with our food.  We talk about what makes a good substitution and why that particular ingredient is listed; what happens if we omit it, what happens if we substitute a wet ingredient with a dry ingredient, etc.  
  12. Helps develop motor skills-- A pinch of this a teaspoon of that; kids need to fine tune motor skills and cooking together has been a great way to do that.  They need gross motor skills to mix, knead, and chop.  (Yes, I let my kids use knives).   Evan loves to challenge himself to separate the egg whites from the egg yolks every single time he uses an egg to make anything; even when the recipe does not call for separating the eggs.  
  13. Brings geography lessons to life- Not every recipe lends itself to a geography lesson but I do find that we often talk about where the foods come from.  We've learned about popular foods from various cultures and we sometimes talk about where the ingredients are grown or coming from. 
  14. Encourages planning and writing-- If my boys want to try a new recipe they typically need to decide that in advance.  We rarely have ALL the ingredients needed and they know they have to add it to our grocery list if we're going to remember to pick it up next time we go.  Even if we do have all the ingredients they have to figure out what is the best time in our schedule to try and tackle something new.  We've also been trying to get better about writing down our recipe variations so we can in fact make the same thing twice.  
  15. Cleaning up after themselves-- My boys are pretty good about cleaning up their toys and their rooms but they also know that we have to clean the kitchen when we're done cooking.  They happily wash up the counters and put away all the ingredients making sure to leave everything the way they found it.  
  16. They learn that no one is perfect-- They've also learned that accidents happen; milk gets spilled or we leave out an ingredient and the recipe fails.  It's been a great way to show my kids that's it's OK to make mistakes and everyone does at some point or other.  They learn how to handle those mistakes and move on.  
  17. Utilizing technology-- My kids enjoy learning how to use all the little kitchen gadgets we have.  When  peeling apples we may use a hand held peeler or our hand cranking apple peeler if we're trying to peel a large batch.  They've used everything from the microwave to the toaster to the blender to the waffle maker and the electric frying pan as well as the stove.  My youngest son often looks for ways he can improve the tools in the future when he gets bigger (he often talks about the inventions he's going to make). 
  18. It can break down gender stereotypes-- Lucky for me I married a guy who can cook and doesn't mind helping out in the kitchen so my boys never thought it was "just for girls" but cooking together has helped my boys realize that girls and boys can do the same jobs just as well as one another.  
  19. Encourages cooperation-- When we're in the kitchen working on preparing the same meal or the same recipe my boys learn how to work together.  When we made all our apple pies last year we had one person rolling out pie dough, another mixing up the sugar, flour and cinnamon we wanted to mix our apples in, a third person cutting and peeling apples...  it was a great way to show them the benefits of teamwork and cooperation. 
  20. Teaches responsibility-- Before I would let my kids into the kitchen we went over kitchen safety rules; keeping pot handles turned in so we didn't knock a pan of hot water off the stove onto ourselves, using oven mitts when touching anything just to make sure we don't get burned, how to properly hold and handle a knife, the importance of asking for help when we don't know how to do something new.  I warned them that they can get hurt and they need to be mindful of where they are and what they're doing.  I can try to head off any accidents before they happen but ultimately they are responsible when they're the ones cooking.  We've had a few very minor burns and cuts but nothing that required more than a band aid or a bit of cold running water.  My boys know the kitchen isn't a place to play and they take their responsibilities seriously.  


Linking Up With:
Big Family Frugal 

 What to Read Wednesday

Reflectionsfromme


6 comments :

  1. I LOVE this! We don't have children but I was amazed when my 12 year old niece said she had never helped her Mum with any cooking or baking. There's so much joy to be gained from it, great post X #mg
    Blogging at Boo & Maddie

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  2. I'm a home economics teacher and reading your post was lovely. Cooking is great for kids. I wish more parents would to what you're doing. Plus when they move out, you get to go to their place for dinner!

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  3. I agree so many benefits, my 12 and 9 year old cook a lot, they love baking in fact I am about to eat one of the cupcakes they made today. My 7 year old hasn't really got into it yet, but hopefully he will too #mg Thank you for sharing this I love hearing what you are up to xx

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    1. I find my youngest is the most reluctant to help out in the kitchen but I think he just feels like he doesn't know what he's doing yet. His brothers have only recently started making whole recipes on their own so I figure eventually he'll follow in their footsteps.

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