8 Reasons To Get Your Kids Involved In the Kitchen

Child Doing Dishes with Grandmother
Cleanup after baking session

One of my earliest memories is making cookies in the kitchen with my mom. And after that, it was making pies. Actually, one of my earlier memories, truthfully, would be throwing about a bunch of flour on the counter while my mom tried to bake holiday cookies and I just got in her way—but the point is, she included me.  

She had me in the kitchen with her, whether I was helping measure the flour, adding sprinkles, spilling the flour, or helping with the clean-up afterwards—I was her little sous-chef. To this day, one her favorite thing to do with her grandchildren, including my daughter, is to bake!

Thanks actually to both of her grandmothers, my daughter has been bitten by the ‘chef’ bug, for sure.  Now our daughter loves to help us prepare meals at night for our family dinners and she can almost exclusively bake our favorite chocolate chip cookies (thank you, Joanna Gaines) by herself, excepting getting the cookie sheet in and out of the hot oven, of course.

Getting kids to cook, even very young children—and even if they are simply throwing flour about while you do most of the heavy lifting—has benefits that reach beyond teaching them culinary skills!  

Not only that, this time together in the kitchen can be a time to slow down, learn from one another, enjoy some quality family time without the hustle, bustle, and interruptions of our ever increasing hectic lives, and you know… learn to cook. Getting kids involved in the kitchen goes way beyond all of that.

Seriously, just think about all of the skills kids learn from cooking:

  • It provides early skills with measurement and mathematics and problem solving.
  • It provides an opportunity to think and be creative.
  • It provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes (the cookies don’t always turn out, the soufflé doesn’t always rise, you don’t always win at every game or ace every exam).

    Child cooking with Mother
    helping mom measure and pour
  • It provides them with a healthy relationship with food—all food—and helps them gain an understanding of how the food we see in our stores and on our table comes to be there.
  • It helps build in them an inquisitiveness and appreciation for spices, flavors, blends, colors, and textures of foods (yep, you guessed it, the five senses!) that we don’t get when we don’t connect with creating our food.
  • It creates unforgettable memories and experiences that you share together that last longer than just enjoying a meal together (which is also important). 
  • It shows them the importance of doing things for others – when they make a special dish or a favorite dessert they are thinking of what that means to another person. 
  • It [can] help with picky eaters because it gives them ownership of the dishes and what is in them, and takes away the uncertainty when they get to help put it all together.  

But where to start?  

Cities all around San Diego County have summer camp and year-round cooking class options available for kids of all ages. Classes and experiences include the chance to engage in a cooking class with your child, or ones that let them try their hand at cooking “solo” under the supervision of some masterful chefs. A couple local spots include:

Junior Chef San Diego

Artful Chefs 

Trying it out with a professional chef can sure be fun, and educational, but don’t be afraid to just experiment at home together too with some kid-friendly recipes.  There are oodles of online resources for parents wanting to create a safe, fun, experimental cooking environment at home for their children and a quick google search or stroll through the bookstore cookbook aisle will give you many kid-centered cookbook options to choose from for more inspiration as well. Two favorite cookbooks we have on our shelf are: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs and the Kid Chef Everyday: The Easy Cookbook for Foodie Kids (there are several options).

All this is to say that where and when you can, providing children with an opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, with you, around you, alongside you, can be both beneficial and fun (and, yes, a little messy, but that’s OK!). 

Bon Appetit!


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