Making sure that children are receiving proper nutrition is one of the most important aspects of the early care and education profession. Children enrolled in early learning programs on a full time basis will consume a majority of their meals and snacks away from home.
Program administrators and food service specialists have strict guidelines that they must follow when choosing nutritious foods. Teachers can read books about healthy eating and nutritious foods, but as we all know, children learn best when the lessons are relevant, fun, and hands-on. What better way to teach about nutrition and promote healthy eating habits than by incorporating cooking into your curriculum?
In addition the teaching children about healthy foods, cooking activities may inspire children to try new foods that they may not have tried before they had a hand in the preparation. Cooking activities also:
• Reinforce math skills as children take steps to follow recipes and measure ingredients.
• Strengthen fine motor skills with scooping, stirring, pouring, whisking, kneading, and so on.
• Incorporate science as children observe the changes in the ingredients as they are combined.
• Enhance language and literacy skills with new vocabulary words, exploring cookbooks, and talking about experiences.
• Promote self-regulation through the practice of listening, patience, direction following, and safe use of materials.
• Encourage social interactions, cooperation, and cultural awareness.
• Promote creativity, self-expression and the development of personal preferences.
• Build independence and a sense of competence and confidence.
Click here to learn about things to consider when cooking in the classroom.