5 Amazing Skills Kids Learn While Baking and Cooking up a Storm!
If you asked me to tell you one of the main ways I connect with my daughter it is something I never would have dreamed I would say. I was never the college roommate who made the BEST chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t win my husband over through my amazing cooking skills with romantic candlelit dinners at home. While I have never minded cooking or baking, it is definitely not “my thing”.
So, if you would have told me 7 years ago that I would LOVE baking with my daughter I would have thought that was pretty interesting and cool. It is the perfect way that we can chill together, have lots of conversation and laughs, all while making yummy (most of the time ha!) goodies and treats.
The main reason this started for us was because of all of her severe food allergies. When I found out about her severe peanut, nut and egg allergies, suddenly I HAD to become the mom with the amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe! I couldn’t let my daughter miss out on the finer things of a childhood like ice cream on a hot day or warm chocolate chip cookies for an after school snack. (Thankfully, after much trial and error I have my go-to egg free baking recipes! Phew!)
It has since become such a fun bonding experience for us both and we love it. She also really loves the kid’s baking shows so we watch them every once in a while together and I am letting her have more freedom to experiment with her own unique baking ideas the older she gets.
It’s just got me thinking of how baking and cooking are really good ways for kids to learn and cultivate different skills. It’s much more than yummy chocolate chip cookies :)
So I would encourage you to get out there and bake with your kids or your grandkids. My mother-in-law isn’t in the best of health, so while she isn’t out there throwing a Frisbee with her grandkids, she does love to do things like frost Christmas sugar cookies with my kids, or even asks them to sit at the table and chat with her while she makes dinner. My kids will have such fond memories of her because of this.
Here are five other skills children can learn through cooking and baking:
1. Problem solving
Recipes are a lot like puzzles. Every ingredient and process fits into a sequence. Food prep requires kids to think about that sequence, assess how it’s progressing throughout the process and evaluate (taste test!) the end result. If something’s gone wrong (too much flour), troubleshooting (a little more liquid?) can open possibilities and help kids develop flexibility.
2. Responsibility and Independence
Most kids sense the importance of kitchen safety from the first time they get too close to the oven and you say “Hot!” When kids begin to prepare food in the kitchen, it’s important to impart simple but important rules like washing hands before food prep, keeping sharp things away from fingers and wearing an apron. Review some basic safety guidelines with your kids and assess their current ability to reliably abide by rules before you set them loose. A fun way to help your kids remember to wear an apron is to buy an inexpensive white apron and let them decorate it with fabric paint.
3. Body awareness
The kitchen provides kids with ample opportunities for practicing hand-eye coordination and using all five senses. Pouring from a measuring cup into a bowl, cracking an egg, kneading dough to discern its proper consistency and seeing the amount of cinnamon in the palm of your hand that equals a “dash” are just a few of the endless examples of how kitchen play promotes body and sense awareness.
4. Social skills
Kids can practice an astonishing amount of social skills through food. Collaborating on recipes, preparing and serving meals for others to enjoy, and sitting down to food with pleasant conversation and good table manners all involve learning and practicing skills central to a happy social life.
Kids can think outside the box and use kitchen play to make things for reasons other than eating. Help your kid find recipes for homemade play dough or play clay, holiday ornaments, dog treats, bird food and more.
Encourage kids to make their own recipes and in the process practice good old-fashioned kitchen creativity, experimentation and trial and error
What successes have you found from baking with your children or grandchildren? I’d love to know in the comments below!
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