Say "HELLO" to Our Nature Park
This week we introduced some new plants into the classroom. Even though we have a new nature park,...
Cooking is one of our favorite experiences at English for Fun and we include it in all of our programs (American Preschool, Camps, After School Activities, Work for Fun). Here is why we invest so much time and energy in cooking in our classrooms and it's why we believe that parents should do more cooking with their children at home.
We promise, this is Food for FUN and there are many benefits to cooking with receptive minds (anyone learning, not just kids).
From a very young age, children are fascinated by the whole process. It's a sensory experience of touching, smelling, hearing the mixing and tasting the ingredients. The whole experience is active since they are measuring, pouring and mixing. There is a transformation taking place that turns raw foods into the yummy meals and snacks they are familiar with, like bread, muffins, dips and soups so it takes patience and perseverance.
This is a way for kids to become familiar with new textures and ingredients. And they feel a sense of ownership over the final result so they are more likely to develop good relationship with these foods and keep their good eating habits as they become older and get fussier. Cooking introduces S.T.E.A.M.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Music). Basic math and science concepts are taught through counting, measuring, and observing.
More importantly, Executive Function Skills are taught too. These skills are also called Emotional intelligence and they are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A CHILD CAN LEARN TO GUARANTEE SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS LATER IN LIFE!
Cooking is a community experience which brings us closer together as we work and enjoy the fruits of our labor. This is a ways of developing trust by sharing common experiences. Cooking foster social-emotional skills and self-regulation as they take turns and pass the bowl to the next person when their time is up. Kids learn to trust that they can let go and the bowl will come around again and they will get another turn. They develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they practice pouring and mixing. After a few months it is incredible how confidently they can handle themselves in the kitchen and around food!
Their English vocabulary increases as the excitement and engagement in the experience motivates them to use language like counting, our mixing song, 'my turn', 'more', 'empty', shake', 'tap', and the names of different ingredients just to start. They also grow their self-esteem and confidence as they see that they are capable of doing something that until that moment has been strictly part of the 'adult' sphere, and very much shrouded in mystery.
"Mix Mix Mix. Mix Until 6. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 6!"
So now let's try this at home!
Spending time in the kitchen and sharing recipes helps us to develop a positive connection to all different types of foods including fruits and vegetables. Forming a positive experience with homemade food is so important because healthy foods are the foundation for wellness and proper nutrition. Learning basic cooking skills (for those of us who are less-domestic) is a great way to be vulnerable together and the positive experience matters more than the taste of what we cook.
Sharing the kitchen creates positive family memories and we could all use a little distraction right now! A project such as baking can be a family hobby. It will keep us focused on what is important, the social-emotional wellness of our children. That can only happen if we are sheltering ourselves (parents) from the uncertainty of our world. If we use our newfound time at home to connect with our children, our kids will remember that they felt happy while cooking rather the stress of COVID-19 and quarantine (click the button and share our policies with businesses in need).
Cooking is a great alternative to keeping our minds busy with interesting things. It will also keep us OFF of social media and other unhealthy "time sucks". Humans learn by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening. There are so many easy ways to get kids involved in cooking.
Remember...Cooking with kids provides practical experience with many essential skills such as following directions and measuring. Getting involved in cooking helps your child to develop eye-hand coordination. It is an opportunity to meal plan, look for recipes and share ideas on why and how to make meals healthier for the whole family. Finally, cooking with kids is a great way to do project-based learning at home in a similar way to what we do at our Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool. Bring the kids into the kitchen. Here are a few more resources to start cooking at home with your child.
Overnight Chocolate Oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk of choice
2 tsp chia seed (optional)
sweetener of choice (optional)
Stir dry ingredients together in a lidded container (a mason jar works best).
Pour in remaining ingredients and mix with a spoon or shake to evenly combine ingredients.
Transfer to the fridge and let it sit for a couple hours, or overnight.
Enjoy hot or cold!
We made this in class on Thursday and used soy milk and yoghurt to make it vegan, chia seeds and no sweetener. It was a big hit!
Stay tuned for more news about our culinary programs, Food for Fun! The concepts are about teaching children, from the beginning of life, all about the wonders of food and the farm-to-fork concept. This program will celebrate the amazing gift of living in a place like Spain with the top chefs, the finest ingredients and a society that knows how to enjoy life.