by Shannon Pead
When you are cooking with children, they are physically exploring subjects they can find boring or difficult when taught in the rigid environment provided by most schools.
Maths is put in to practice as they measure, divide and multiply
Science is explored through working with yeast or watching the effect of baking powder in a cake
Fine motor skills are honed through working with doughs or measuring with precision
Creativity is expressed through colour, shape and flavour combination.
Culture, history, storytelling, time keeping, team work, leadership skills, dexterity, all can be explored within the kitchen environment.
Research even suggests that cooking can be used as a preventative measure for drug abuse, as well as having positive links with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders, and the management of ADHD.
So now that you know the benefits of cooking with the kids as explored in part 1 of our blog, what are you waiting for?! Here are some pointers to get you started!
• For parents mess can seem daunting, choose your timing to minimise frustration and maximise patience so you can give your child your most positive you; don’t start your child off making a 5 course dinner if the guests are about to arrive!
• Choose easy recipes to begin with, of 5 ingredients or less. For example you could get a pizza making assembly line going, allowing the children to choose and add their own toppings.
• Similarly, choose recipes you know well to help instil confidence in your little ones. Simple and fun recipes include breads, muffins, smoothies, fun sandwiches, biscuits and pastries
• Keep the mood light, especially if encountering any problems. ‘Failures’ like breaking shell into an egg or spilling ingredients can discourage children. Encourage them by reminding them practise makes perfect
• Delegate! This is especially important if you have more than one child in the mix. Let each one have a responsibility to avoid squabbles and to make everyone feel included.
• If you have young children chose a time when they are well rested and not easily frustrated
• Compliment your little chefs, offering tastes when appropriate. The proof is in the pudding!
• Establish good kitchen rules, reminding children to wash hands and showing them what not to touch to keep them safe
• Get children involved with as many aspects of the cooking process as you can. Special utensils such as safety scissors are available for small hands allowing them to feel included and empowered
• Choose age appropriate techniques and recipe types, allowing children to progress at a safe and undaunted pace.
So what can we expect of our children as they grow and develop?
Little hands can help with washing fruit and veg, fetching ingredients from the fridge, handing over utensils and stirring cake batters or mixes.
Good recipes here include humus with crudités, or chickpea cookie dough to have with sliced apple.
Now is a good time to talk about foods including what’s healthy and why. Increased coordination can be put to use with cookie cutting and peeling.
Good recipes here include “building recipes” e.g. layering sandwich toppings and spooning yogurt and fruit into a glass to make a desert.
School children will love the opportunity to make menu suggestions based on what they have perhaps seen at a friend’s house or pack their own lunch boxes. Now is a good time to introduce kitchen appliances, making sure to supervise the use of the oven, microwave, sharp utensils, hot plates and hot liquids.
Great recipes at this age include cakes, soups, homemade muesli and pancakes. They will love taking their own sausage stuffed, plaited bread into school to show their friends over lunch.
This is the perfect time for young adults to learn about budgeting and using leftovers. Teens might be brave enough to try out new ingredients or re-jig old recipes with their own personal twists. They will also love the responsibility of occasionally cooking for the family.
Great additions to the teen menu could be breaded fish with home-made chips, lasagne, roasts and muesli bars for their school lunches. And I’ve yet to meet a teen who doesn’t love to bake the occasional chocolate cake!
So, as a parent, you can finally have your cake AND eat it too!! Your only challenge will be in solving the problem of who gets to lick the spoon….hmmm, maybe you should just use two!!
Don’t forget to keep your kids snacks cool this summer with our BodyICE Kids range of ice packs.
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