Kids in the Kitchen
When we bake we
see, we smell, we taste, we hear and we feel – it engages all of
our five senses. This unique quality is what I believe makes baking such a powerful medium through which to teach our children life skills, including some that don’t even necessarily relate to cooking.
When my children were at preschool I ran regular cooking sessions with their classes. I wanted the kids to have fun but I also wanted to pass on some of my knowledge and love for cooking. Once I started the classes, and continued them through their primary school years, I realized that it wasn’t just the ‘knowledge’ about cooking that the kids were absorbing. There were so many other things they were getting from these sessions as well.
Whisking, stirring, rolling, mashing, icing and cutting helped get the cooking job done while also helping development of fine motor skills. Problem solving and experimentation were big in our sessions – the kids were often given the chance to predict what may happen when a bunch of ingredients came together or when a mixture was heated, for example – so there’s a tick for development of cognitive skills. Being introduced to words such as the names of utensils (spatula and whisk), the state of food (stiff and scrambled) and cooking processes (smashing, squeezing and sizzling) did wonders to extend their vocabulary.
And so these sessions created the opportunity for all the kids to participate — they felt proud of what they had created and loved sharing the rewards with their friends and families. The smiles were always huge and the development of positive self-esteem and self-confidence was guaranteed.
This whole experience showed me that sharing your knowledge with your children and the next generation is so incredibly important. And it’s as much about the experience you are creating for them as what you are teaching them. What they learn through learning to bake will help equip them for life beyond the four walls of a kitchen. It gives them lasting memories, a framework they can apply to other tasks and a way they can communicate with others. What better ways to say welcome/sorry/I like you/cheer up/ happy birthday/can we be friends? than with something that is lovingly homemade!
It feels good, and sharing your knowledge of baking and your time in the kitchen with children will nurture conversations, inspire creativity and encourage discovery. And when it comes down to it, baking is just a great thing to do with your kids. It has all the right elements from where they stand: it’s creative, it can be messy, it’s exciting and, most importantly, it gives results that you can eat, share and enjoy.