No matter where children disappear to, they can be found peeping into the kitchen close to dinnertime,
or any other time they smell something cooking. Watching their parents as they waltz around the kitchen, handling several different pots and pans, dicing and sautéing, tasting, adding salt and pepper…
Cooking teaches children myriad lessons, and even the tiniest of fingers can be of some use! It isn’t just about getting the ingredients right and cooking them together for the right amount of time; cooking is also about enjoying yourself. “Children understand food, and they’re also very interested in mixing and brewing. To them, it’s fun and enjoyment,” says Mumbai-based Kavita Agarwal, who runs Little Masterchef – classes to teach young children how to cook. Children as young as three can be encouraged to participate in the kitchen and pick up culinary skills.
More than just the perfect dish
Cooking teaches children more than just how to make a delicious dish. Along the way, they pick up lots of valuable little tipsand tricks which will help them later in life.
- Cooking teaches children basic maths – counting, measuring and proportions – and familiarises them with mathematical terms, like ‘half of’ or ‘a dozen’.
- They pick up new vocabulary, which improves their language skills – think sauté, dice, grate and whisk.
- Scientific concepts? Not a problem! The kitchen is full of them – thawing and freezing, pasteurisation, fermentation – take your pick!
- Trying out a new cuisine can add to a child’s general knowledge and language skills, especially if the parent can weave in a discussion on Mediterranean climate as you prepare mezze or practise French conjugation as you coupez and mélangez.
- Don’t forget an important life skill that cooking lends itself to – proceeding logically, in an orderly manner, step by step. Not only does this teach children to follow instructions, but also boosts the ability to multitask.
- Hone your child’s creativity by encouraging her to think not only about preparation, but also the presentation of the dish. • Cooking can also be a fun hobby that acts as a stress buster, showing children how to expend their energy by beating eggs rather than other kids and by whipping cream rather than one another!
- A youngster who knows at least some basic cooking is independent and self-reliant. Equip your child early on so she can throw together a meal for herself without having to reach for the can opener.
There are other important lessons they will learn along the way. That sometimes, you’ve got to keep baking and baking until you get the perfect cake, and that dishes might not always turn out perfect. From these kinds ofexperiences, children will learn that sometimes, things might go wrong, and that they have to put in hard work to get perfect results. An added incentive for parents: when children learn to cook, they’re a lot less dependent on you, and can make their own little meals and snacks. Also, what better way to find out what’s happening at school than over a homemadesmoothie or cupcakes baked together? Especially when children grow into teenagers – a time when parents find communicating with their children isn’t as easy as it used to be – cooking is a great way to break the barriers,and get the conversation going.