One of my favourite benefits of starting anything constructive or creative with toddlers and young children is;
-Cooking and baking can give such a great feeling of accomplishment and really foster self confidence. – It becomes a family “norm”. It becomes part of your family’s culture to cook food for and with each other.Which segways nicely into why I think I’ve always cooked and baked and really enjoyed doing it. I grew up with two women my Mum and Grandmother who made it part and parcel of our daily lives and weekly routine.
The other main reason I think it became part of my “skill-set” is; there comes a time in most childhoods when your not quiet sure where you fit in or what you are good at. As parents we are constantly trying to embrace diversity and teach that it is normal to have both strengths and weakness to build resilience in our children. You may be the child watching people ace spelling tests and win running races and your coming last and getting 50%. We know now as adults it all levels out in the end and sometimes that the underdog or the average are even the ones that really come out “on top” ! Where am I going with this…..
-Whether its cooking, baking, bbqing or cake decorating it can give you something that you can feel strong at, something that you feel is your strength, a hobby and most importantly something you enjoy. Something you share and can be successful at, with others.
-Its fantastic for practicing maths skills, from basic counting with your pre-schoolers to measuring and fractions with your older children. It also gives you a sure fire answer to the age old homework complaint of “but I will never ever use this maths in real life”…. Ahh but you already do!
-Recipes help develop very similar skills to constructive activities such as lego. Giving a child practice with starting a project, gathering necessary materials and ingredients, building, creating and completing a project to the end.
-Cooking with kids can help nurture a curious eater. Children that prepare and cook food are more likely to eat new foods and dishes, at best they will be more likely to try it.
-Quality time; I’ve friends and clients that often feel guilty that their work schedule is so tight when they get home its pickup, dinner and bed and that it doesn’t allow them any time to engage in any activity or one to one time with their child. Get them involved in the cooking dinner! It may not be feasible every evening and it may not be the quickest way to get a dinner or snack made but with a positive mindset and managing your own expectations your time cooking with toddler or young child could be that window of family time you’ve been searching for.
Sometimes it’s hard to start a new tradition and know what jobs to delegate or what your comfortable handing over to a young child. If you’re not sure where to get started or what you can possibly delegate to a toddler have a look at my list below and the rest will fall into place. Remember to begin with, only give jobs they can be successful with. Try meet their skill level so they can ideally enjoy the activity.
· Stirring and mixing (ingrediatns you’ve measured)
· Tearing lettuce
· Adding (tipping and pouring)
· Topping/decorating baking mixes like buns,breads and biscuits with chocolate chips, dried fruit and/or seeds.
· Fetching ingredients from fridge and presses.
· Counting eggs, bananas, berries etc.
· And of course the most obvious from this collaboration assembling their very own pizza!
Bottom line from me it is a life skill. If you can’t bake to save your life stick to cooking and food preparation. We all shared a house in College with one poor old soul who Monday to Thursday only ate toast and pot noodles! Lets teach them how to boil an egg, grill a fillet and top a pizza!!