Cooking with kids: the educational benefits

Little girl dressed as a chef
Cooking with children has some great educational and health benefits, from practising maths skills to exploring different ingredients. We take a look at what your child could learn in the kitchen.
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With the huge variety of processed food out there, it’s easy to think that no one really bakes anymore. But, in fact, the latest figues suggest over 70 percent of consumers do bake. And with a massive selection of yummy recipes widely available to suit every dietary requirement and taste, there really is no excuse not to head to the kitchen for some foodie fun.

Bake and learn

Getting the children cooking offers loads of great learning opportunities.

  • Health and safety skills – your child gets a ‘hands-on’ experience of the need to practise good hygiene in the kitchen. They also learn about safety, identifying the things that are hot, sharp, or electrical and learning to be careful.
  • Maths skills – weighing, measuring, mixing, timing, and sometimes even estimating. Your child will be using loads of mathematical skills in their baking (and probably won’t even realise it!).
  • Science – learning about ingredients and mixtures, chemical reactions (a cake rising), and the processes the ingredients go through to become the end product.
  • Food knowledge – baking gives practical examples of ingredients, such as eggs, sugar or butter. Your child can learn about where they come from, and how they get to your table. They can experience ingredients in their raw form, and learn to identify new and unusual products. Hands-on cooking and tasting help children explore different fruits and vegetables by comparing their tastes and textures before and after cooking.
  • Literacy – reading a recipe and putting its advice into practice isn’t as easy as you might think. For a child, reading the recipe and then actually following the instructions can be challenging. But the prospects of a yummy cake at the end is certainly motivation for them to try!
  • Social skills – if they are cooking with friends or siblings, it is a great way to help them learn to share, take turns, and be patient. They will also take great pride in offering around their handiwork once it’s ready.

The benefits of getting children cooking really speak for themselves. In our current tough economic climate, home baking can make pennies go further, making the most of leftovers, and store cupboard staples, instead of one-serving ready meals. And although often associated with naughty cakes and pies, home baking can be a step towards healthier eating by cutting out the hidden fats, unnecessary high salt content, additives and preservatives found in convenience foods. By home baking your food, you are in control of your ingredients and can choose healthier options.