It is possible to enjoy cooking with your children – and it can even help them develop their reading!

Perhaps it’s just me, but cooking with the kids has always seemed so hard. Messy. Infuriating. Lengthy. Messy. However, over the last year, cooking with the kids is something I have persevered with (not mid-week anymore I hasten to add) because we all need to eat –  it’s a life skill they need, it can be fun (when I chill out), and – of course – it provides another opportunity for reading.

Reading recipes

As a text type, recipes can require a high level of reading – specialist vocabulary, repeated commands and instructions which need to be carefully followed. From your child’s point of view it involves reading, science and numeracy, which (when they are young) is a quite a lot of multi-tasking! If you do have the opportunity to cook with your children, then rest assured, this is not only developing a life skill, but it is definitely improving their reading.

In addition, if your kids are reluctant readers, then this might be a great way to encourage them to read simply because it has a purpose and an outcome. Whilst reading a book might – for some – seem like work, making a delicious cake or a plate of cookies is a delicious treat.

Fun in the kitchen – here’s how!

So have a look at my tips below to make this a productive, fun and worthwhile activity:

  • Plan cooking activities for a time when you are not feeling pressured or stressed. The evening I’ve put aside to cook with my eldest son is Thursdays, because that’s the end of my working week and I don’t feel the same pressure as I do on work nights.
  • Let go of control. I know this is hard, but it really benefits your child. Depending on their age, let them read and follow the recipe and only intervene if you feel they are going to hurt themselves or if they ask. This is great for encouraging independence in their reading, and they are more likely to remember how the dish was made.

  • Try a variety of dishes: sweet and savoury. This will obviously keep your child interested, but will also vary the vocabulary they are reading.
  • If your child is preschool or not yet competent enough to follow a recipe independently then co-read the recipe with them or model reading the recipe by reading it to them and following the instructions together.
  • Have fun: as well as creating learning opportunities, reading with parents and cooking with parents should make memories for your children.

A book we like to use is Annabel Karmel’s Children’s First Cookbook.

Have fun!