Are you struggling to engage your kids after school? Are you constantly battling screens and snack wrappers…and losing?
Do you wish there was something or someone that could teach your kids a life skill while also encouraging confidence and healthy food choices?
What if I told you teaching your child to cook (and no, not in a sheet pan or crock-pot) may be the answer you’ve been looking for?
Here are ten unexpected benefits of teaching children and teens to cook like a chef.
1. Cooking Improves Academic Skills.
Learning to cook isn’t just about food. In a cooking class, your child will also improve on academic skills.
- Cooking teaches a child to listen, observe, and follow directions. There’s immediate feedback because they can see how their choices affected the final dish.
Cooking improves math skills. One of the main reasons children fail to succeed in math is a poor grasp of fractions. Cooking teaches children about adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions in three dimensions so that they can become comfortable with numbers.
- Cooking improves reading comprehension. As children learn to follow recipes from a cookbook, they expand their vocabularies and their ability to make text-to-life connections.
- Cooking improves collaboration skills. Working together with another person in a kitchen is a delicate dance. It helps children gain the emotional control necessary to navigate teams in the classroom.
2. Cooking improves knife skills, and fine motor skills across the board.
One of the first things that our students learn is how to use a knife properly.
But when your kids learn to dice an onion quickly or to slice peppers thinly, they’re not just learning to be safe and efficient in the kitchen. Knife skills transfer to other areas in life, like camping, crafting, and construction trades.
The skills they learn in a kitchen also hone your children’s fine motor skills across the board. If you want to improve handwriting, shoe tying, or sewing skills, the kitchen is a great place to start learning.
These skills aren’t just for fun. Some of the biggest growth areas right now are in industries that require coordination and motor planning. Learning these skills now could lead to a good career later on.
“Absolutely delicious meal! My daughter has learned a lot of real, valuable cooking skills with Chef Rafael and feels so much more confident than she did many classes ago when she first took his class. The dishes always deliver on taste and even I learn something new!”
3. Cooking is a practical way to build creativity.
Before a child can be creative, they need to learn basic skills. Once your child can cook and has mastered a few basic recipes, they can spread their wings and create new tastes that express their personality and show off their skills.
Master a basic muffin, and you can create any flavor combination that you can dream of. Learn how to make a curry or a chili, and then start switching up ingredients and spices. And, unlike the results of that pottery hobby or glassblowing class, creative cooking projects don’t clutter up your house.
4. Cooking Classes improve mental health.
Researchers have found that cooking classes improve mental health outcomes and relieve depression. When kids have mastered an important life skill, they feel more competent and in control of their lives.
When the world is scary and unpredictable, cooking helps root and calm our kids by giving them a practical way to make the world better.
5. Cooking can expand the palate of picky eaters.
Occupational therapists know that for an anxious child to try and enjoy a new food, they need to feel comfortable. Kids need to experience the look, smell, and texture of new foods before they taste them.
Cooking is a natural way to introduce new foods into a child’s diet so that they can tolerate a wider range of smells and tastes.
“Chef Raf led such a fun class bringing something we usually only get at special places directly into our kitchen. My daughter had so much fun learning to make her favorite fritters.”
6. Cooking builds cultural understanding and competency.
Food is one of the most important ways in which people relate to each other.
When we welcome people to our homes, we serve them food. Often, a child’s first encounter with a new culture will occur at food-centered events like birthdays, weddings, or funeral suppers.
When kids learn to prepare the foods of diverse nations and cultures, they build understanding and acceptance and learn to be open to cross-cultural exchange.
Our world is more connected than ever before, and knowing how to cook and eat a variety of foods will help your child be ready for life.
7. Learning to cook as a child or teen results in lifelong healthy eating.
Researchers have found that when people learn to cook before adulthood, they are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less likely to be obese.
Cooking classes don’t only teach your child to prepare basic meals. They also introduce a variety of new vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains, and they teach your child how to make them delicious.
So often, when we meet an adult who thinks they hate vegetables, it’s that they’ve never learned how to cook them properly.
When you sign your child up for a cooking class, you pass on healthy habits that protect your child for years to come.
8. Cooking helps your child build community.
Food is an essential part of how humans bond with each other and help each other.
When a child can cook, they have a concrete way to build stronger relationships.
A kid who can cook can:
- Participate in a meal train for a family fighting cancer
- Help prepare a birthday or holiday meal and start a new family tradition
- Welcome new neighbors to the community with a loaf of bread
- Make chicken soup for a sick parent, grandparent, or sibling
- Help out with bake sales and other school and club fundraisers
- Contribute meaningfully to community potlucks
- Create allergen-free dishes to share with friends and classmates
When you can cook, you can build community wherever you go.
9. Cooking helps kids meet their future goals.
One reason that many young adults have trouble making ends meet after college is a lack of cooking knowledge.
Young people who’ve never learned to cook end up living off of convenience foods and take-out. These meals aren’t just unhealthy, they’re also expensive. Costs add up, and young people can’t imagine a way to save money. After all, they have to eat!
By teaching kids to cook now, we give them the power to economize without sacrificing taste or health. This will let them reach their life goals like paying off student loans, buying a home, or starting a small business more quickly, and with less pain.
10. A kid who can cook makes your life easier!
One of the most surprising things about having a kid who can cook is that it makes the parent’s life easier.
Kids who can cook can make hot lunches and feed younger siblings, they can prep dinner on busy nights, they can fully participate in the life of the household.
Think of all of the nights you come home from work thinking “I have to make dinner again? Why do they keep wanting food?”
After cooking classes, you can empower your child to plan, shop for, and prepare some of the weekly family meals. Suddenly, mealtimes are more pleasant for everyone.
When you sign your kid up for cooking lessons, the whole family wins.
We’ve seen it over and over.
A kid learns to cook, gains confidence, and starts changing the world for the better in large and small ways.
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