Children learn so much better from doing an activity than watching or reading. That is why cooking with your children can make such a difference to your child’s life. Not only will you be teaching them a valuable skill that they can use throughout the rest of their life. You will find that you will naturally be teaching them mathematics, reading, science and so much more! Moreover, you will also have a great bonding experience and build a lifetime of memories.
In this month’s article PACS’ own cooking lady Helen Mumford, reflects on the benefits of cooking with your little ones.
For the last seven years I have been known as the cooking lady as I have been running the PACS weekly cooking session. Many times have I been told that I must be crazy to spend time with 16 under 5-year olds with knives trying to create something edible. However, I know from my own experience that these classes are teaching children key skills and although what we produce may not be Michelin starred it is always a yummy and fun time.
Cooking with children can be chaotic but it can also be great fun. As adults we can find preparing the daily meals a chore but for children it is a great opportunity to spend time with adults while gaining experience in understanding the importance of healthy eating and balanced diets. At our cooking sessions we encourage children to try foods that they wouldn’t normally experience, and we have found that when a child is involved with the cooking process, they will be more willing to experiment with food. Over the last seven years I have had many a parent say to me “my child never eats that at home how have you managed to get them to eat it?” There’s no real secret, as an adult you wouldn’t eat food placed in front of you that you had no understanding of, this is the same for children if children know what is in their food they are more likely to eat it.
Most people would not dream of letting little children loose with a kitchen knife to help prepare food at home. At cooking club, children are provided with specially designed safe chopping knives that they can use to chop up the ingredients. The action of chopping and dicing has a huge benefit to your child’s development of motor skills.
Cooking together is also a great way to help children learn to follow directions. Not only are they following a recipe, but they also learn that things have to be done in a certain order to bring out the best result. So whether you’re making biscuits or a family dinner, walk your kids step by step through the process so they understand why things happen. Cooking can also help with a child’s reading. Whether they are reading the recipe, or you are reading it together there is a lot of reading involved. This can help build your child’s vocabulary skills as well as opening them up to words and vocabulary that they would not normally hear in the classroom on nursery environment. As well as reading, cooking is full of mathematics. Your child can learn adding, subtraction, fractions, and multiplication all in the kitchen. This can be from measuring out ingredients to cutting up portions but more than that cooking together can make maths more fun!
However, the greatest benefit of cooking together is the emotional bond that can be formed between the adult and child. I can still remember many happy times cooking together with my grandma and mother baking and cooking a range of recipes.
I started running cooking club because my child enjoyed it so much. I can still see that the time spent teaching my children to cook has been beneficial for all of us when we need quality time together. Even now that my children are bigger we still join together in the kitchen to make something together.
So be brave, get your aprons on and head to the Kitchen to get baking!
The thought of cooking with your young children can fill some people with dread and others images of traditional quality family time together. For the last seven years the Parent and Child Society has been running a weekly cooking club for up to 16 children under the age of five years. Over the years we have seen the many benefits that cooking with young children can have.
Here are some of PACS favourite recipes that you can try at home and you will find videos of our cooking lady demonstrating more recipes on our Facebook page, Parent and Child Society, Gibraltar.
Veg Packed Pasta Bake
• 300g cooked pasta
• ½ courgette
• 1 red pepper
• 1 yellow pepper
• 3 mushrooms
• A small tin of sweetcorn
• A carton of Tomato Passata or Frito
• 50g grated cheese
Place the cooked pasta in a large oven proof dish. Let your child chop up the courgette, peppers, and mushrooms into chunks. Mix in with the pasta. Sprinkle on the sweetcorn and mix. Pour over the tomato passata covering all the pasta. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200.
Hint – if you kids aren’t fans of the chunky veg then puree it with a blender with the passata before adding to the pasta.
• Cup of butter – then melt
• 1 Cup of white sugar
• 2 Eggs
• 1 Tsp vanilla extract
• 1/3 Cup of cocoa powder
• Cup of plain flour
• Tsp salt
• Tsp of baking powder
Heat the oven to 175 and grease with butter and flour an 8-inch square tin. Melt the butter and mix in the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add in flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder and mix. Place in the oven for 25 minutes – do not overcook. Let it cool then cut into slice – Enjoy!