Pesach is a time we focus on 3 specific themes: Traditions, Children, and Food. With all the time spent in the kitchen preparing food for the plethora of meals consumed over this week, now is a great time to begin the tradition of getting kids involved with food preparation. Not only is it a great way to teach family and religious customs, but there are so many more benefits to be gained, such as:
- Learning math, science, and language skills
- Learning about nutrition, food skills, and social skills involved with working together and sharing space and equipment
- Being more likely to eat with family resulting in: making better food choices, having better nutrient intake, healthier weight, reduced risk of developing eating disorders, improved social interactions with peers, and better school performance
- Better intake of fruits and vegetables with decreased intake of fats, soda and fried food
While you may be wary of including children in food preparation as you can do it so much faster and neater without their involvement, cooking with your children can be a positive and fun experience. These tips make it a fun and safe way to reconnect after a long day, or just relax together with a shared activity.
- Keep them safe with constant supervision (the kitchen has many potential hazards!)
- Keep it simple. Choose recipes that your children can help with (now is not the time for a complicated soufflé)
- Allow more time than you would normally need, and don’t rush
- Give children specific tasks; they’ll learn more from hands-on experience than from watching. If they seem to be struggling, ask if they want help
- Involve kids with clean-up as well; don’t do it for them
- Don’t expect your children to eat what they made. They’ll be more interested in cooking if they know there’s no pressure to eat everything they make
- Make the kitchen kid-friendly so they’ll want to, and be able to, cook more frequently (with supervision)
See the following chart for specific tasks children of different ages can do to become involved in food preparation. Habits and skills learned in the kitchen when young can have an impact on children’s later years, so get in the kitchen together and get cooking!!