In this era of mobile gaming and YouTube Kids and so much more digital activities aimed at children, most kids today have forgone physical activities for hours and hours on their phones or staring at the TV.
Time and again, experts have spoken up about the need for kids to focus on learning by doing and lessen gadget time. And one of the best ways to encourage kids to explore and spend more time at home is by teaching them how to cook.
Molly Birnbaum, editor-in-chief of America’s Test Kitchen for Kids, wrote about the importance of teaching kids how to cook for Time.com. Here are just some of the reasons why you should start spending time with your children in the kitchen in spite of the mess.
Cooking encourages ‘critical thinking, creativity and collaboration’
According to Birnbaum, cooking “invites kids to make connections to the broader world by asking, “Where does our food come from?” and “What is the history of this recipe?” And it allows them to apply what they are learning in school in a new context.”
Cooking helps make math more relevant
“Measuring ingredients, scaling recipes up or down and rolling out dough to specific dimensions are frequent tasks in cooking or baking.” With these exercises, the use of addition, subtraction, division, and even fractions are used in practical, daily activities – saying to kids how math fits into their daily lives.
Cooking makes chemistry more interesting
Creating a dish from scratch shows children how various ingredients interact with one another, like how a sliced avocado turns brown because of oxidation or why baking soda makes caramel bubble like crazy (creating deliciously crispy honeycomb) or, as Birnbaum mentioned, how eggs and oil turn into mayonnaise with a bit of hard work (or a food processor). The more kids are exposed to these daily chemical interactions in the kitchen, the more chemistry makes sense to them in a practical way.
Cooking develops resilience in kids
Just like many things in life, cooking will sometimes result in failure. And that’s okay! Making one bad batch of something could be a lesson in following instructions and it’s always a good opportunity to work together to discuss what happened, what went wrong, and how they can make it better next time.
Cooking develops character
As kids are exposed to the kitchen more often, the more they realize the importance of patience (the perfect caldereta will take hours to cook to achieve its perfect flavor and texture), working together (they must accept that they need help with cutting vegetables or reaching high shelves), try new things (encourage kids to taste new ingredients and new dishes), as well as the building confidence (there’s nothing like serving the results of your hard work to an appreciative audience).