Play is a child’s work. And work is child’s play. This is illustrated so well in the kitchen! Children enjoy helping with putting cans away, chopping vegetables, setting the table, and stirring up a batch of cookies. Through imitation they learn from cause to effect, how to measure and count, sequencing, how to read a recipe, and much, much more. Instead of discouraging them by scooting them off to a toy kitchen or to make mud pies in the back yard, enjoying their help in the kitchen can create countless memories and provide them with a wealth of learning experiences. For the next few days the discussion here will be about cooking with kids. We’ll start with ideas for sharing with toddlers through early elementary children and then progress to food experiences for middle school and even high school students. Children who practice food experiences with their parents, starting at a young age, learn the benefits of a healthy, nutritious diet. It is a well known fact that if kids get to help prepare a recipe in the kitchen they are generally willing to taste and enjoy the end result. The kitchen experience can help them explore new tastes, textures, and nutrients. Additionally, children will achieve a sense of belonging as they contribute to family mealtimes. A sense of accomplishment will result. Quality time between parent and child happens naturally when time is spent experimenting and preparing healthy foods in the home kitchen! Cooking is a skill that your children will use for the rest of their lives. If children learn to eat healthy as kids, they are more likely to eat healthfully as adults. Skill in the kitchen gives children self-confidence and a willingness to try new things. These kids will be less likely to be swayed by peer pressure, and as teens will enjoy spending time in the kitchen as an avenue to avoid boredom. So, stay tuned the next few days for posts that will share ideas for helping your youngsters enjoy time in the kitchen with you!