Cooking with your kids is not just about having fun, entertaining them so they’re not bored, or encouraging them to help out around the house. (Although it does all of these things!) Cooking with your children also teaches them the importance of eating foods that are healthy for their growing bodies and minds, and shows them that it’s easy (not to mention fun!) to cook food rather than throw a pre-packaged meal in the microwave. Remember, teaching them these important lessons now sets them up to maintain a healthy lifestyle later in life!
Cooking and eating together as a family has many benefits. Here are just a few:
1. Research shows that kids who eat dinner with their families at least five times a week are more likely to have better grades than those who don’t. And that’s regardless of gender, family structure, or economic status!
2. Eating in a family setting frequently makes it easier for parents to develop strong relationships with their children and spot behavioral changes in them, which can be signs of tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drug use.
3. Build confidence in your middle schooler by telling stories at the dinner table. Research indicates that those whose parents share anecdotes with them have higher self-esteem and get along better with their peers during their teenage years.
4. Families who watch TV while eating dinner together tend to have poorer diets than those who dine together around a table. So gather everyone up and be automatically healthier!
5. Make cooking fun. There are fun products out there that are geared towards kids such as Curious Chef. They make actual mini kitchen tools that are perfect (and safer) for smaller hands. Kids definitely are more open to try foods out that they help prepare, so give it a try!