Kids can learn to cook and can become quite skilled with practice and guidance. Cooking is a great way for kids to learn important life skills like following directions, working with measurements, and time management. It can also help them develop a sense of independence and boost their confidence. Plus, cooking together can be a fun and bonding activity for families.
Cooking, using the Montessori Method
The Montessori method is based on the idea that children are naturally curious and motivated to learn, and that they learn best through self-directed exploration and discovery.
Montessori education emphasizes the development of the whole child – including intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development – and encourages children to learn at their own pace and according to their own interests. The approach is designed to be child-centered, with the teacher serving as a guide or facilitator rather than a traditional lecturer or instructor.
Montessori classrooms are designed to be peaceful and inviting, with age-appropriate materials arranged on low shelves that are easily accessible to children. The curriculum is typically structured around a set of core areas, including practical life skills, sensorial exploration, language, mathematics, and cultural studies. (More on this in “Setting up your kitchen space.”)
One unique feature of Montessori education is the use of mixed-age classrooms, which allows younger children to learn from older ones and older children to develop leadership skills by helping younger children. Montessori educators also emphasize the importance of fostering a sense of community and respect for all individuals, as well as a love of learning and a lifelong curiosity. their hands is an important aspect of learning for children, and this is especially true when it comes to cooking.
Here are some of the benefits of kids using their hands in the kitchen:
- Sensory learning: Using their hands allows kids to engage with the ingredients and experience different textures, temperatures, and smells. This sensory learning can help them develop a greater appreciation for food and a more nuanced palate.
- Fine motor skills: Cooking involves a lot of small movements, such as chopping, stirring, and measuring ingredients. By using their hands, kids can develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
- Independence: When kids are able to use their hands to prepare food, they can become more independent and self-sufficient. This can boost their confidence and give them a sense of accomplishment.
- Connection to food: When kids use their hands to prepare food, they develop a deeper connection to what they are eating. This can encourage them to be more mindful about their food choices and to appreciate the effort that goes into preparing a meal.
Overall, encouraging kids to use their hands in the kitchen can have a variety of benefits. It can help them develop important skills, become more independent, and develop a deeper appreciation for food.
An ounce of prevention
When asking parents what they want for their child, the answer I typically get is, “I just want them to be happy and healthy.”
Yet, the number one skill for health is often overlooked: cooking! Parents have their kids in robotics, STEM courses, and, sure, a plethora, of physical activities, but cooking is often lacking, yet very necessary.
Beyond the extracurricular nature of cooking classes, it is a way to provide
- Specialized education
- Cultural education
- Safety and discipline lessons
While also being personalized and flexible to meet the needs of the student. With increasing food allergies, and neurodivergent kids, it is becoming more and more important for kids to learn alternatives!
Emphasizing the process of cooking rather than the end result is a valuable approach to teaching confidence. Without comparing, tell each child they did an amazing job! Cooking helps kids develop courage, confidence, and creativity, making a lasting impact on children’s lives.
The lessons are experiential
This is an opportunity to experience a lesson! The child is using math and reading, while following a process, to create something! In my opinion, it is the best (and tastiest) way to learn. Witnessing the growth of the students that come through Freedom Kitchen Kids classes provides for first-hand knowledge and it’s been a pleasure teaching them. (You can check out our current class menus here.)
Vetting local cooking classes
There is a lot of value in attending cooking classes, in person. Freedom Kitchen Kids is run like Montessori, with different ages in the same class. It is also set up for the children to move from station to station, allowing them to work cohesively as a group, exert independence, and critically think. Of course, this is all done with adult supervision and oversight, but kids of all ages are capable of doing more than we think they can.
However, local cooking classes need to be vetted for a healthy curriculum! There is a preconceived notion that kids only eat mac and cheese, pizza, and cupcakes. It is, unfortunately, the norm to find a “fun cupcake” class with box mixes and food dyes.
Regardless of age group, little girls and boys can be taught cooking skills using fresh ingredients! If we are keeping with our values, of wanting kids to be happy and healthy, then we must start by teaching them new skills. Trust me, they will find that it is fun to make a healthy, delicious recipe.
Setting up your kitchen space
If your child will be doing cooking classes at home, it is important to follow the Montessori method of having utensils that are easily accessible to children. Encourage them to have their cookbook and utensils, maybe even a drawer or cupboard just for them. And, remember, a step stool may be necessary.
Yes, this may get messy and it’s ok! This is quality time spent and the lessons are taught in a fun way.
Virtual Cooking Classes
Freedom Kitchen Kids offers healthy cooking classes online. The good news is that this online cooking school is dedicated to healthy kids programs, cooking from scratch, with fresh ingredients. The best part is that these young chefs develop courage, confidence and creativity while experimenting with new recipes. They may not want to be professional chef, but the health of our children begins in the kitchen.
Cooking parties can be done for birthday parties. Create a unique experience for the birthday child. For party planning and party themes check out this post “A Deliciously Different Birthday Celebration: Kids Cooking Parties”