Yes, letting your kids use the stove and sharp knives can be dangerous. You know what else is dangerous? Not teaching them and setting them up for failure in the kitchen. Not doing everything you can to help prevent obesity. Not sparking their interest for preparing their own food. Those things are far more dangerous in my book.
Every time Chef Archer makes an appearance on my Instagram, I get so many responses like….“I wish I had taught my kids to cook at such a young age.” “The best thing I ever did was teach my kids to cook.” “I wish I had your patience.”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t always have the patience. In fact, I can’t even take all the credit for chef Archer’s knack. When Archer was 2 we lived with my in-laws for a year. It was then grandma Pool kicked off Chef Archer’s cooking career. He had his hands in everything in that kitchen. From then on out he insisted on being everyone’s sous-chef. As crazy as it sometimes still makes me, I’m so glad it’s something I now do with all my kids. You can catch them on the daily fighting over who gets to cook dinner with mom. Let me tell you, having 3 sous-chefs isn’t easy, but it’s fun!
I have a real passion for teaching kids about health and fitness. As an elementary PE teacher I get to work with young kids every single day. I’ve studied the statistics about childhood obesity and it’s alarming, frightening in fact. I’m not here to throw a bunch of numbers at you, but did you know 1 in every 6 children (ages 2-19) are obese? 1 out of every 3 are overweight or obese. How can we help fight this growing epidemic? I don’t have those answers. What I do have is a suggestion. Let’s get more kids cooking in the kitchen! Teaching your kids about food, nutrition, and how to cook for themselves is a life skill we really should put more of an emphasis on. If that isn’t convincing enough, here are 5 more reasons you need to get your kids cooking in the kitchen!
Bond with Your Child
My kids race to grab their aprons and help me in the kitchen when the opportunity arises. Who gets to stir the pancake mix, crack the eggs, or dump the pasta noodles is taken very seriously. I love the moments in the kitchen with them all and I’m confident they do as well. Exploring new foods and helping mom is one of their favorite things to do. And guys, start small! Let them help you dump in ingredients, flip a pancake, or stir something. It will spark their interest and they’ll love it!
Encourage Healthy Eating & Teach Your Child About Nutrition
There’s no better time to talk nutrition with your kids then when you’re all in the kitchen with your hands in it. This is when I sneak in the reminders about the importance of eating our veggies, protein, and cooking well balanced meals. Now I’m not going to act like they always cook healthy meals, they don’t. My kids are professionals at making Kraft Mac & Cheese and microwaving corn dogs. But these are the things they can do all by themselves and will eventually carry over into more complex meals as they age.
Appreciation for Meals
Kids shouldn’t grow up thinking food just appears on the dinner table when they’re hungry. They need to participate in the meal making so they understand the value of a good, home cooked meal. Not to mention they are far more likely to take an interest in a meal or new food if they got to help prepare it. Get them in there helping and you may be surprised how much more of their dinner they’ll eat!
Like I’ve said before, my kids LOVE to help me in the kitchen. They race to get on their aprons, chef hats, and grab utensils whenever the opportunity presents itself. You may think your child has no interest until you let them try. Trust me, they will love it. When I asked Archer why he loves to cook so much, he said, “It’s FUN MOM!”
They become Self Sufficient
My kids can make toast, reheat pancakes, or even pour a bowl of cereal on their own in the morning before we all head out the door. I know the idea of letting them fend for themselves sometimes seems more mess than it’s worth. But let me tell you, the benefits far outweigh the few minutes I have to spend cleaning up those messes. Believe it or not, my kids are actually getting pretty good about cleaning up what they’ve used.
Another thing I often think about is sending my kids off into the world. I don’t want my kids dumbfounded when they go to college and buying Top Ramen because they can’t boil their own pasta and create a simple, balanced meal. Teach them the basics now and they will be far less likely to turn to prepackaged foods and fast food as an adult.
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