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A photograph of a girl wearing a chef hat

“Cooking Teaches”

What the Research Says

There is a consensus among education and health experts that cooking and eating with children is one of the best things parents and teachers can do.

National History Education Clearinghouse

We need food to live, but don't always think about where food comes from. We carry foods and foodways with us as we immigrate, emigrate, or migrate. We share food and celebrate with it.

Every bite we eat has a long history involving geography, trade, science, technology, global contact, and more.

Take advantage of this rich history by asking questions about the foods students love.

Remember that there are many ways of bringing food history into the classroom. American Girl author Valerie Tripp describes how she writes for hands, noses, tongues, and ears, not just eyes....

From cooking tools to songs about food, from the smells of spices to the taste of hardtack, explore the history of food with all five senses.

School Food Trust


Being able to cook is a vital life skill which helps children grow into healthier adults.

United States Food and Drug Administration


Children are natural kitchen helpers. They like to share simple tasks of food shopping and picking foods for meals. They enjoy preparing and serving food to the family.


Cooking Builds Self-esteem

Helping in the kitchen builds confidence and early skills of independence. Most kids feel proud and important when they help prepare food. Sharing in family tasks helps them feel that they belong in the family.


Cooking Teaches

Kitchen tasks give your child a chance to measure, count, and see food change. That’s early math and science learning. Your child can learn new words and symbols by cooking with you. Talk about the food and what you are doing. Read words together on food containers.


Small muscle skills develop, too, when your child uses his or her hands to help with kitchen tasks.


Cleanup teaches responsibility and its part of many creative, messy things we do.


Cooking Together is Fun Family Time

Kitchen time offers a special parenting chance. Cooking together creates closer bonds and lifelong memories. It’s also a chance to talk and hear what your child has to share.



WebMD

Indeed, cooking with kids can be the gift that keeps on giving; it has both short-term and long-term payoffs.

Some of the short-term benefits:

          It encourages kids to try healthy foods.

✔     Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.

          Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.

          Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.

          Kids aren't spending time in front of the TV or computer while they're cooking.

          Kids generally aren't eating junk food when they're cooking a meal at home.


Some long-term benefits:

          Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.

          Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.

          Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.

          Kids who cook with their parents may even be less likely to abuse drugs.

Leslie Elliott, RD, CDN


There are many benefits to getting your kids in the kitchen with you.


          Reading, Math Skills: Encourage your kids to read the recipes and help you measure the ingredients....

          Communication: Talking with your kids when cooking will develop communication skills that will help them in school, with their friends and someday with their jobs....

          Healthy Eating: Spending time in the kitchen can give your child a chance to experience the smells and touch of new foods....

          Time: Set a timer and help kids learn the concept of time.

          Confidence: Younger cooks are eager to learn in the kitchen, and cooking with your older kids will boost their pride and confidence.

Jennie Lee, Homeschool Mom


My kids retain more of what we discuss if it includes a strong tactile element, like historical food.