By Jodi Holland, RD

To an adult, cooking from a recipe can seem like such a simple if not boring task.  Isn’t it the great chefs that cook by feel and taste, adding just a little of this and a pinch more of that?  But taking the opportunity to work through a recipe with your child offers so many benefits beyond the masterpiece you will be eating.

In celebration of Family Literacy Day, held annually on January 27th to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging as a family in literacy-related activities, what better place to celebrate than in the kitchen!  Acquiring food skills is an important task and reading a recipe teaches volume, weight, temperature, time, fractions, sequencing and more!

Even if your child is not able to read yet, they can still assist with measuring, pouring, stirring and cleaning.  Young school-aged children may recognize amounts and the order in which to add ingredients.  By age 8 or 9, children can begin to make simple recipes by themselves with your supervision.  Encourage your older children to try following recipes independently.  Is there a potluck at school?  Have them choose a recipe to prepare.

Planning to celebrate Family Literacy Day in the kitchen?  Follow these tips to get you started!

  1. Choose a recipe together. Browse through your recipes at home, borrow a cookbook from the library or check out Better Together BC for kid-friendly recipes.
  2. Start simple. Perhaps a pita pizza, smoothie or batch of cookies is the perfect place to start.
  3. Write a grocery list together to get the items you’ll need.
  4. Time to cook! Read through the entire recipe together before beginning and gather all the necessary ingredients and equipment.
  5. Help your child follow each step of the recipe and encourage them to be as hands-on as appropriate. Check out Cooking with Kids of Different Ages to learn more about age-appropriate tasks for your little one.
  6. Enjoy your creation together. Kudos to the chef!

I love the concept of the #15×15 Life Skill Challenge.  This challenge includes teaching your child how to make at least 15 meals independently by the age of 15.  Whether it be eggs, stir-fry, chili or home-made salad dressing, you’ll know they’ll have the food skills they need for their adult life.  And this may just reduce your workload in the meantime!