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For Kids, Cooking & Nutrition Go Hand in Hand

Have to let you know upfront, I didn’t write this post, but can’t say enough how important (and fun) it can be to get your kids in the kitchen with you–even if it is a bit messier and slower.  😮

Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. The percentage of obese children is at or above 30 percent in over 30 states. These are startling facts, but they are the harsh reality of the world we live in today. Unfortunately, many children are not getting enough exercise due to the rapid increase in technology. Video games, computer and cell phones all contribute to the lack of exercise in a child’s life. However, that is not the only issue. Children
are not taught about nutrition. Teaching children to live a healthy lifestyle through a balanced nutrition can help prevent childhood obesity.

Teaching our children about nutrition can be easy and fun. For many of us, getting our children to eat their fruits and veggies can be challenging. By engaging them in the preparation process however, we can stimulate their desire to want to eat what they’ve made. That’s right; let the children cook!

“The kitchen is often the most popular place in the house for families to gather. It’s a place for learning and sharing, where the family can enjoy quality time. Children can also develop a sense of responsibility by sharing in daily tasks”,says  Dr. Mary Zurn of Primrose Schools By sharing in the experience of preparing food, we can begin to introduce our
children to nutritional facts and healthy foods.

The following tips can help you have a fun learning experience each time you are  cooking/baking with your children and will also help keep them safe from potential kitchen hazards.

1.)    Set Ground Rules. This is the most important tip to remember when your child is in the kitchen with you. These rules will ensure a safe environment for everyone there.  Designate certain tasks as “adult-only” such as using sharp knives and putting items into and removing them from the oven. These rules can also teach children about things such as germs and bacteria. Teach your child to wash his or her hands before and after each time they handle food.

2.)    Engage Your Child.  Don’t forget to let your child help! Keep in mind, the goal is not perfection in the dishes, the goal is teaching your kids how to cook healthy food, and in turn, learn a key part of a healthy lifestyle. There are many simple tasks children
can help with, pouring, mixing, sprinkle and rolling are all simple ways to engage children and make them feel like they are helping.

3.)    Build up Skills Step- by-Step. All children learn at a different rate. Make
sure you don’t give them a task that will be to hard for them. Allow them to master a skill, such as cutting a very soft with a dull knife, before you advance them to cutting something denser. This of coarse should only be for older children, younger children can work on mastering things such as cracking an egg, or rolling the cookie dough into a ball.

4.)    HAVE FUN! Always have fun when you are cooking/baking with your child. It will make the experience memorable and meaningful. The more fun you have, the easier it will be to mask the learning aspect of the activity. Throwing in subtle hints of nutrition won’t seem as education to your child if you continue to have fun. Also, if your child makes a mistake, stay calm, and allow them to try it over with some guidance from you. The more
relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be making it a more fun and
safer environment.

Cooking is something we do everyday. As Dr. Zurn pointed out, the kitchen is often the most popular place for families to gather. So instead of neglecting our younger children while we cook and bake, we can spend quality time with them while teaching them important lessons. Nutrition is a key component to living a healthy lifestyle so the earlier we teach our children about it, the more likely they will be to continue living
healthy.

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have
helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an
accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools preschool students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of
articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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