Brownie Time

Brownie Time

Nov 16

I hate to cook.

I order in and eat out way too often for my wallet’s liking, but it’s just so much easier and more satisfying than spending my time cooking a meal that takes a quarter the time to eat as it did to make!

I should clarify, I hate to cook, unless I’m working with children…

I have absolutely no explanation for this, but for some reason I’ve always found cooking to be so fun when I’m in my classroom.  Maybe it’s something about the huge mess it makes, no matter how old the kids are.  Maybe it’s the fact that no matter how clean I try to be myself, I go home covered in flower or dough or whatever ingredient made the biggest mess that day. Maybe it’s the funny way kids seem to love to cook, and hate to eat what they make.  Who knows?  I love the whole process: finding a recipe, shopping for ingredients, measuring, pouring, mixing, stirring, cooking, baking, even burning the food – everything.  Several years back I thought to myself, “If I love cooking so much at work, I must like it at home too, right? Maybe I’m just cooking the wrong things.  I should bake!”  Boy, did that go over horribly!  I got ingredients for home made brownies, completely from scratch.  By the time I was done, I had a thin mushy chocolaty mess, even though I’d baked something very similar at work with wild success just a few weeks earlier.

Well, this isn’t a cooking blog, so I wont bore you with anymore of my cooking nightmares at home, and my take out Thai food just arrived.  However, I will tell you that beyond my inexplicable joy and surprising success (sometimes, at least) cooking with children, this can also be a very educational experience for young children.  Sometimes I hear parents say things like, “I know it’s not educational, but I’d love to come to class and lead a cooking project,” and I find myself almost instantly responding with a long (inevitably incomplete) list of reasons why it is educational for children to cook, so here it goes:

- When children measure, they are learning pre-mathematics.

- When children pour, they are working on their bilateral coordination.  They are learning how their bodies work in space, and how to utilize their hand eye coordination to complet detailed fine motor tasks.

- Through asking a child questions like “What do you think this ingredient is?,” the child learns about different ingredients, and what type of food they are.

- Thinking and talking about the foods their using helps them with logical thinking.

- While mixing, children develop both their fine motor (small muscle movements), and gross motor (large muscle movements) muscles, depending on the food.

- While cutting, chopping, or dicing, children learn to use their hand eye coordination, and further develop their fine motor muscles.  They learn to concentrate and focus on the task at hand; if they don’t, they might get hurt.  They learn that they are trusted with “adult” objects, even if they’re only using a butter knife, and through that sense of being trusted, they learn to trust themselves, and they gain self-confidence.

- The whole process of cooking teaches children independence.  They learn to fend for themselves, as they’ll need to do as adults.

- Finally, they learn to cook!  Yes, this is obvious, but I think a lot of adults forget that this is an important skill for children to learn – one that I don’t possess, and one that I wish I had learned more about at a young age myself.  The earlier children learn to cook, and specifically to cook healthy, tasty foods, the more they will eat and cook healthy in their adolescence and adulthood.

After all, old habits die hard.

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