Bringing your kids into the kitchen can provide break from the day and also time for bonding between the grownup and child (or siblings!). And when you get to eat what you make, even better! The hidden advantage is it also can teach them valuable lessons along the way. The best part? They won’t even feel like they’re learning!
Math + Science
The most obvious of lessons baked in to cooking (ha!) would be math and science. Fractions, addition, chemical reactions—oh my! Each recipe is chock full of teaching moments about these subjects. Take time to walk your child through how many quarter cups are in a full cup. Pro tip: The smaller measuring cups are easier for children to manage with their little hands. When I cook with my boys, I always have them use smaller measures. (For example, I’ll have them scoop four ¼ cups, instead of 1 full cup.) We count and keep track along the way.
While I know using the words “kids” and “patience” in the same sentence may make you chuckle, but there is an opportunity here to make the waiting fun. If you’re making pumpkin loaf and it has to bake for 45 minutes, use that time to prep dinner together or eat lunch. Their patience will pay off when they get to see their delicious creation come to life.
Mistakes happen to the best of us. Sometimes you add too much salt or too much sugar or even forget an ingredient. Working together with your child to adapt and help fix your mistake shows them your ability to be flexible and nimble. This is an undervalued life skill they will take beyond the kitchen and something they can apply to all aspects of their life.
I love having both of my kids work together in the kitchen. My older son can measure while my younger son does the mixing. There is a popular saying to “just add water” when kids are having a rough day (i.e., bath, sprinklers, sip of water, etc). I like to “just add cooking”––if they’re having a rough day or misbehaving, coming together in the kitchen can help. They will work together to create something delicious, and get a special treat for good behavior.
As your kids get more experienced helping in the kitchen, they will begin to gain confidence—and the desire to whip up their own creations. It is such a joy to watch my six-year-old open his own sandwich “shop” and make everyone lunch or to scramble his own eggs in the morning. This gives him confidence in his skills and abilities that stretch far outside the kitchen.