What are children learning when they are cooking?
Cooking with children is a great way for them to learn so many skills, whether it be cooking at home with parents or baking at nursery. It is not just about making an end product it is all about the process. Teaching children to cook from a young age gives them the opportunity to learn science in action, learn basic maths concepts, learn about healthy food choices, build confidence, develop communications skills and make real life connections.
Teaching children science
Whilst joining in a cooking experience at nursery children will be learning about science, this may be in the form of watching what happens when certain ingredients are added, or finding out why the mixture has risen. Young children may not be ready to fully understand the science concept but by showing them and asking them questions it will begin the understanding process as it will allow children to test out their findings.
Understanding basic maths
When preparing a recipe with children it is an ideal opportunity to talk to them about what your adding, for example some recipes will require two spoons of an ingredient and by highlighting this to children it will help them learn about basic maths. If using electronic weighing scales, show the children the numbers and let them explore what happens when they add or take away some ingredients. Exposure to real life experience allows children to see first hand experiences from their own perception, which is a great learning tool.
Understanding time can be difficult for some children as don’t understand the concept. By using timers and explaining how they work will teach child about the concept of time
Early Literacy Skills
When following a recipe with the children it is best practice to read the recipe out loud, this will give children the opportunity to develop their vocabulary and listen to news words put together to create instructions. By being a positive role model it will reinforce basic literacy and reading foundations.
Developing healthy food choices
Providing children with positive attitudes of healthy food will often lead to children eating healthy food. Children look up to adults as a role model and by demonstrating a healthy approach during practice will help give children a perception of the importance of eating healthy food.
Following simple recipes with children will help them create something from scratch, this will help build their confidence and enable them to try new things.
Cooking with children is also about expressing creativity. They will be able to taste new ingredients and experiment with flavours. Children will relish in adding ingredients and mixing the mixture in the bowl and watching what happens.
Whether you are cooking with children in a small group or large group this is an ideal opportunity to promote communication. As you read the recipe out loud this gives children an opportunity to develop their communications skills. Also explanations are a great source of communication as this may lead to questions and answers. By demonstrating effective communication can only help children learn new ways to communicate and express themselves.
Cooking with children can only benefit children’s all round development and enhance any skills already learnt, therefore finding time to cook at nursery is highly important for so many reasons.