By cooking with our children, we create associative memories of family togetherness and create some deep emotional bonds. There are seven primary learning styles, but one has been forgotten the 8th teaching method, olfactory. The olfactory bulb has direct 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.” The 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 eighth wonder of the world, I add olfactory to standard seven methods of teaching.
The methods to be employed when teaching your children.
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 created by the chefs of old.
Hypothesize – If we mix these ingredients together, will it taste good?
Experiment – (Cook) Let’s try it and find out.
Compare hypothesis with results – (Taste) What happened. Good?
Give conclusions – Is it edible because?
When should children learn to cook?
The answer is, 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. Basic skills a child can perform in the kitchen are; wash, peel, measure, mix, stir, pour, tear, smear fold, dollop, spoon, rinse.
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 afterward. 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 resist the urge to quit. Make the goal of cooking clear and understandable. When a child show signs of losing interest, take the time to explain the concepts behind the cooking project.
Break the project down into clear and definable goals. Engage your child casual banter 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. 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 workstation, or as I prefer to call it a learning station, for your child to assemble the chosen recipe.
With great eating comes the great responsibility of cleaning up after. Teach 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 wellbeing. Cooking skills consist of many different types of perceptual and conceptual skills as well as mechanical skills and academic knowledge. Cooking is a great way to teach a child, math, science, improve reading, and to learn about other cultures.