How to teach kids to cook.

By cooking with our children we create associative memories of family togetherness and create deep emotional bonds.

There are 7 primary learning styles, but one has been forgotten the 8th teaching method, Olfactory. Funny huh, don’t go there. The olfactory bulb has intimate access to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for associative learning.
Who remembers mom’s cookies, grandma’s pies, the roasting turkey of Thanksgiving. Smells, the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the “emotional brain.” Smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously. By cooking wonderful aromatic foods we can create positive memories for our children and by association we can create positive memories of math, science, history, language and arts.  Like the 8th wonder of the world I add Olfactory to standard 7 methods of teaching.

The other methods to be employed.
Visual (Spatial) – These individuals learn best through pictures, images, and spatial understanding
Aural (Auditory) – These individuals learn best through sound and music
Verbal (Linguistic) – These individuals learn best through words, verbal and/or written
Physical (Kinesthetic) – These individuals learn best through experience and rely on the sense of touch
Logical (Mathematical) – These individuals learn best through logic and reasoning
Social (Interpersonal) – These individuals learn best through group interaction
Solitary (Interpersonal) – These individuals learn best through self-study
It is important to note that many kids learn well from a blend of learning styles.  Think of yourself for example. Do you learn best through just one of these learning styles or several?

Teach the scientific method in its simplest form. The scientific method was discovered by chefs of old.
Hypothesize – If we mix these ingredients together, what do you think will happen?
Experiment – (Cook)  Let’s try it and find out.
Compare hypothesis with results – (Taste) What happened?
Give conclusions – Is it edible?

When should children learn to cook?  As soon as they are able to follow simple instructions. (E.G Hold a spoon, wash and tear lettuce, open the fridge and retrieve ingredients). Starting children early improves fine motor skills and familiarizes a child with foods in the many stages of cooking. Familiarity can help reduce food phobias.
When starting out in the kitchen, for the young or novice cook, it is best to keep tasks simple and short. Lessons should be no more than 20 minutes.  With older children the complexity and length of tasks can be increased. At 7 a child can make a sandwich and clean up after. By 9 a child can scramble an egg under supervision and make toast, and by 11 you should have breakfast in bed on the weekends on a regular basis.

Help kids to resit the urge to quit. Make the goal of cooking clear and understandable.  When a child shows signs of losing interest,  take the time to explain the concepts behind the cooking project. Break the project  down in to clear and definable goals.

Engage your child on an off topic subject, (just like at the office) while they peel or wash.  Ask them about their friends, how they are feeling, if they have anything on their minds they want to share.Then bring the child back to the project. Be your child’s role model. Listen. Be patient.
Before you start a cooking project.
Always read the recipe together before you start. Gather the needed ingredients measure them out together and have the ingredients at the ready. This is called Mise en place. Mise en place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up.
While cooking with your child discuss what the equipment in the kitchen is and how to safely use it.
Like a professional kitchen make a work station for your child to assemble the chosen recipe.  With great eating comes the great responsibility of cleaning up after. Teach them the mantra, “A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen.” This part of the activity makes the task easier for everyone.

Cooking can empower a child, foster a sense of control and well being. Cooking is a great way to teach a child, math, science, improve reading, and to learn about other cultures.

4 thoughts on “How to teach kids to cook.

  1. Maybe this is why I failed when I was teaching and I had to get a class of kids to make damper. Argh.. it was a disaster. I should have had this information back then 🙂 very useful post.


  2. Reblogged this on Darryl Donaghue and commented:
    Fantastic article by Eric Johnson about teaching kids to cook. Eric is passionate about teaching people to rediscover the joys and health benefits of cooking. Great tips to use with your little ones, especially in the run up to Christmas!


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