Cooking can help young children learn and practice some basic math concepts and develop language skills. In addition, preparing meals with you can help them develop self-confidence and lay the foundation for healthy eating habits. Cooking with children can be considered a fun learning activity for both young children and their parents. Cooking is one of the few activities that can improve many skills at once.
Children can improve math, science, language, motor development, art, and social skills through cooking. Children especially enjoy learning with their parents. Cooking as a family helps parents learn to serve healthy and nutritious meals, encourages positive interactions between parents and children, and improves children's eating styles. This, in turn, translates into raising children who are nutritionally and developmentally healthy (Spears, 2000).
When children learn healthy eating habits at an early age, they will continue to use them throughout their lives (Clark, Goyder, Bissell, Blank, & Peters, 200). Involving young children in planned cooking experiences is a great way to teach them good eating habits (Dodge & Colker, 199). Finally, cooking helps picky eaters feel like they own and proud of the new foods they prepare. This increases the likelihood that they'll try (and like) a wider variety of foods.
Very often, when people learn good habits like these at an early age, they tend to carry these values with them well into adulthood. When parents allow their children to choose foods in the kitchen, this encourages their creativity and decision-making skills. It breaks barriers and lays the foundation for adults to be self-sufficient. A kitchen is, literally, a learning laboratory.
Cooking can be considered a scientific experience that children can eat. When cooking, children notice changes in food ingredients. They learn about actions and consequences. They learn about temperature, flotation, melting, freezing, and (sometimes) burning.
They learn and practice mathematical skills by using fractions, measuring, folding recipes and contemplating quantities. Following prescriptions encourages self-direction and independence. It also promotes problem solving and creativity. In terms of physical development, cooking and preparing food also contribute to small muscle control and hand-eye coordination.