Cooking Up a Curriculum
By Jen Holmstrom
Most of us didn't take a cooking class until we were in high school and there was an option to take Home Economics. But as homeschoolers, we can determine to introduce these skills much earlier. Something as simple and useful as cooking skills can be introduced as early as 3-5. Younger children positively light up at the mention of being a "helper" in the kitchen. A toddler can be stimulated by just mixing ingredients with a spoon. Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on their own can be a victory for a young child. And learning how to make lemonade can easily turn your child into an entrepreneur, resulting in the finest lemonade stand you've seen on the block or even a fund raising bake sale! Cooking with your child as a mentor leads to further activities involving self-reliance and creativity.
Cooking teaches so many valuable lessons! It involves learning life skills, following directions, measuring, math, planning,
patience, clean-up, and healthy eating habits. All these things will enhance your child's mind and will supplement other forms of learning throughout the day. You might even consider making a cooking lesson part of your weekly schedule.
And if you are involved in a homeschool co-op, a Cooking Club is a perfect opportunity for a group of kids to learn, interact, and share recipes.
Here are a few tips to make sure cooking with your child will be successful and enriching:
1. MAKE SURE THE ACTIVITY IS AGE APPROPRIATE.
Sometimes recipes can involve too many ingredients and take too long to see the results.
Younger children will be less intimidated by recipes that require only a
few ingredients. They will also be more interested in a process that takes less time.
2. TALK WHILE YOU COOK.
You may not be Julia Child, but your little ones are listening to you and they will be taking in all those bits of
information as you work.
3. INTRODUCE RECIPES AND MEASURING TOOLS.
Give them a copy of the recipe to see and let them hold and examine the measuring cups and spoons. This is where being hands-on can be helpful in retaining valuable information.
4. TELL THEM WHAT THEIR ROLE WILL BE.
Sometimes there are steps, like putting something in the oven, that your child isn't ready for.. but they might feel differently. Avoid accidents and hurt feelings by letting your children know ahead of time how they will be assisting you.
5. LET THEM MAKE MISTAKES.
This is a tough one for me, haha. But it is good to let them make mistakes. If your four year old thinks the flour looks tasty, and you think "Eww, no don't eat it!" Take a moment to weigh out whether or not it would benefit them to learn that on their own.
6. INVOLVE THEM IN THE CLEAN-UP PROCESS.
I tell my children that the clean-up is the most important part of cooking. Taking responsibility for a mess you made, is a great lesson and supports independence.
7. DO NOT CRITICIZE, BUT CRITIQUE.
Children can be sensitive to criticism. They may never want to do something again, if they feel they aren't good at something. However, it is important to asses the results of your recipe and to discuss how it can be improved upon the next time. We can all learn to take things with a grain of salt.
Let's Cook! Class Curriculum
Kids Cooking Activities
A Culinary Curriculum for Kids
*Watch a cooking show! The Food Network is a popular source of information for home educators. Many children enjoy watching cooking shows, and often find inspiration to cook while watching interesting tips and tricks.
Once you have completed a recipe with your kids, there is always a nice taste testing reward. Seeing the fruits of your labor is crucial in teaching our children about a good work ethic. The more involved your children are in the process, the more pride they will have in their project.
Fun kitchen traditions are lasting and result in memorable family treats!
Like what you read? Check out more by Jen on her blog, Inspired Family of 5