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If you follow along over on instagram, or if you’ve seen my prior blog posts, you know I’m a big fan of getting kids involved in the cooking process. Maybe you’re like me and you didn’t learn to cook growing up so you worry if you even have anything to teach. Or you’re worried that you’re going to teach them the ‘wrong way’…. Children who engage with their families and with foods are healthier and better adjusted. So maybe you don’t know quite how to julienne carrots, that’s okay! You know plenty of steps around feeding yourself and your family, so start with those. If you’re unsure why cooking with your kids is important, read on.
#1 The more children know how to cook, the more foods they’re likely to eat *especially fruits and vegetables (research brief). Children eat what they see and are offered frequently, so having them complete some of the work shares the task and also serves as a positive exposure or interaction with the food.
#2 Improved motor skills. In the Montessori curriculum writing tends to happen later than in traditional learning, but we still need our littles to have strong hands! Cooking in the kitchen by cutting, stirring, flipping or putting away groceries etc allows for hand manipulation, coordination and muscle building. These tasks complement the standard Montessori tasks like locks, pegs, and more.
#3 Healthy kids!! Home cooked meals (and snacks) are healthier than store bought ones. Yes, even the cookies you make. You know every ingredient – and so does your child! When you make tacos and serve the filling and toppings separately they are able to build and customize that taco and take ownership of its contents – they will likely surprise you with what they pick!
#4 An engaging way to compliment classroom (or Zoom) learning. Is your little one working to comprehend numbers and amounts (outside of memorization)? Piling up some of their favorite food in different amounts next to the numeral is a great way to provide positive reinforcement to quantities. Here’s a math idea.
Now that you’re well versed on the benefits of getting your kids in the kitchen, I want you to dig deep to truly figure out your why. Here’s mine: I wasn’t taught how to nourish myself and as a result I struggled with overeating, undereading, body image, poor performance (coffee isn’t breakfast?), and lots of eating out. If I knew what fueled me and how to prepare it, I would have had so much more joy in my life – and I want that for my boys (and for your kids too.)
If you want to help your kids have a healthy relationship with food but feel stuck as to where to start, grab my latest book Blissful Meals Holiday Guide and get started this holiday season!