A holistic dietitian and mom’s list of 12 reasons every child should learn to cook. From developing fine motor skills, to practicing math, to reducing picky eating – the benefits are endless. Even preschoolers and very young kids can learn to help so that, by the time they’re in their teens, they can cook dinner for the family by themselves! What mom doesn’t like the sound of that?
Both of my kids have been in the kitchen with me from the moment they could hold a wooden spoon.
Some days they’re more eager to help than others – to be honest, some days I’m more eager to have them help than others. But I definitely see how time spent in the kitchen has increased their enjoyment of cooking, serving, and – of course – eating food!
More importantly, I’m beginning to see the lessons they’ve learned in the kitchen yield benefits in areas of their lives too!
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12 Reasons Every Child Should Learn to Cook
1. It’s an Important Life Skill
I’m grateful I learned basic cooking skills at a young age. I know many women who don’t feel confident in the kitchen, and they really struggle to consistently cook healthy meals for their families because of it.
2. Builds Relationships
In addition to helping parents to spend time with their children, cooking together fosters cooperation and communication among siblings. It’s shocking how beautifully brothers and sisters will work together when there’s a batch of cookies at stake!
3. Gives Appreciation for Real Food
Preparing foods from scratch allows children to see for themselves the difference between real foods and processed ones. As you cook, talk about the health benefits of the wholesome foods God made.
4. Cuts Down on Picky Eating
Even the pickiest eaters will come around to trying new foods if they were involved in cooking them. If you’ve got a picky eater, bring them into the kitchen. Be patient – even if it doesn’t work right away, it will eventually!
5. Develops Fine Motor Skills
Stirring, rolling, measuring, sprinkling are just a few kitchen tasks that allow young children to hone their fine motor skills.
6. Requires Following Instructions
What child couldn’t use a little more practice in this area? They’re motivated to get it right because dinner may taste bad if they don’t!
7. Practices Reading
My kindergartner can now read a recipe herself, gather her supplies, and start preparing it with very little assistance. She loves the sense of accomplishment, and I’m excited about how much easier my job just got!
8. Practices Math
Cooking involves lots of math – simple counting (three tablespoons), more than/less than (add a little more), fractions (1/2 cup), and the list goes on.
9. Creative Outlet
Kids love getting to help decide what’s for dinner, what goes in the fruit salad, or just about any other part of the meal. Older kids can express their creativity in recipe development and food presentation – I love watching my six year old carefully and artfully design her lunch plate the same way she would an art project.
10. Offers a Chance to be Praised and Encouraged
We all know kids love being praised for their accomplishments. Teaching kids to cook provides opportunities to encourage and applaud their efforts in the kitchen, and allows other family members to chime in at the dinner table when mom shares which child helped with each part of the meal. I absolutely love seeing my kids light up when their Daddy tells them they did a great job!
11. Opportunities to Serve
Whether it’s making a snack for a sibling, or helping cook dinner for a friend in need, it’s important for children to see food as a tool to show loving care for others.
12. Relieves Mom
Does this one really need explanation? I admit it has only been in the past year that my kids have been old enough to really help reduce my workload. But, looking back, it was totally worth the wait, and it’s getting better all the time!