How many parents take the time to cook with their children? How many of you were taught to cook by your parents or someone else in your family? I actually started cooking with my mother when I was 6 years old rolling out bread dough to make crescent rolls (homemade, of course). Due to my childhood experience, I now cook with my children at least twice a week. Since I am normally only home on the weekends to see my children, I use this time for bonding; as well as for teaching them skills that they will need in order to survive in today’s world, better known as life skills. Cooking with your children is great way to strengthen family bonds, while enforcing math and life skills.
First, cooking with your children can create strong family bonds. This provides the opportunity for spending quality time with your children. While preparing meals, daily discussions regarding current topics in and about their lives are abound (“How was your day”, “What did you do in class”, “Have you spoken to your grandmother”). These discussions during meal preparation can lead to enjoyable moments that children tend to remember as they grow older. They then share these experiences and moments with their children (Eisenhower). In the words of my favorite T.V. Cook, Alton Brown of “Good Eats”, “Cooking with children is just plain fun”. How can you not have fun in the kitchen while cooking with your children? Yes, it can be messy; yes, it can be time consuming; but that is what makes it a fun learning environment. Make mistakes, get messy, have fun.
Secondly, cooking with your children will teach them a necessary life skill, a required skill that they will need in order to survive on their own. Cooking not only teaches food preparation, but also educates them on making healthy food choices (Eisenhower; Ryan). By allowing them to cook for themselves, they are not dependent on fast food or constant dining out. It also teaches the principles of time management. For example, if for dinner we are having a roast that requires four hours of cooking then they need to consider that the additional sides or “fixings” should be prepared in a sequence that would allow them all to be ready at the same time as the roast. These basic life skills of cooking and time management are important for your child and are necessary for them to survive.
Third, cooking with your children helps to reinforce their math skills. Having your child count the beans or carrot sticks gives them a reason to count. It makes counting fun & purposeful or “Purposeful Counting” (Marinelli). Employing your children in the kitchen can be fun and will reinforce their measuring skills. Using the volume method of measuring, such as one-quarter cup of flour or two cups of sugar, helps children to visualize the actual measurement. In my household, we also use ruler measurements when baking. When making cinnamon rolls we measure the length and width of the rolled dough for proper sizing. In the case of the cinnamon roll dough, we are looking for a perfect rectangle. In other baking situations, we will use other geometric shapes including circles, triangles, squares, cones. Cooking also teaches and reinforces their skills at telling time, which will assist with proper time management. Such as with the aforementioned roast, if you put it in the oven at 4 P.M. and it takes one and half-hours to cook, you can ask, at what time does the roast have to be taken out of the oven? Having your children count, measure and tell time can reinforces those skills with “Purposeful Counting”. These activities conducted in a fun atmosphere and used in “real world” situations reinforce the basic life skills that are important.
In conclusion, Cooking with your children can create a naturally fun environment for family bonding. It gives them some of the skills, cooking and time management, they will need to survive. As well, cooking reinforces their math skills by letting them use what they have learned in a “real world” situation. Taking the time to cook with your children will create stronger family bonds, teach them basic life skills that they will need as they grow older and reinforces many math skills that they will not only be able to utilize at home but in school too.
Brown, Alton. “Apple Family Values”
Foodnetwork.com, Food Network Season 2 Episode EA1B03 Video.
Eisenhower, Julie. “Cooking With Children.”
The Saturday Evening Post , Curtis Publishing August 1975, 94-110 Print.
Marinelli, Noel. “Count & Cook.”
Scholastic Parent & Child, Scholastic Publishing March 2006, 73 Print.
Ryan, Kelley & Andrea. “Cooking With Kids.
Nebraska Kitchens, Nebraska Life Publishing June 20088, 37-39 Print.