Cooking & Food

Cooking with Your Grandchildren

Cut strawberries with your grandchild and they are likely to alternate between placing one in the bowl and one in their mouth.

Crack an egg together and you’ll probably get shell in the batter. Hand your grandchild a whisk and together try to keep the ingredients from flying out of the bowl.

We love baking and cooking with our children and grandchildren, and they derive great satisfaction from the process and their creation. In addition, cooking and baking with children has an array of benefits.* 

Build basic skills. You can help your child hone basic math skills by doing something as simple as counting eggs or pouring water into a measuring cup. You can ask what comes first, second, and third or count together as you spoon dough onto a cookie sheet. When you read a recipe together, you’re introducing new words to your child’s vocabulary and promoting literacy. Following steps in the recipe can work on listening skills.

  • Encourage an adventurous palate. Preschoolers are notoriously picky eaters and bringing them into the kitchen to cook can help get them to open up to new tastes. When your three-year-old daughter plays chef, she might sample dishes she wouldn’t try if you just served them to her. So encourage kids to taste new ingredients you’re working with and talk about what they like and how healthy foods make a body grow.
  • Help young kids explore with their senses. Kids learn by exploring with their senses, and the kitchen is an ideal place to do that. Invite them to listen to the whir of the mixer, pound dough and watch it rise, smell it baking in the oven, and finally taste the warm bread fresh from the oven. If it smells good, looks appealing, and is easy to eat, they may just be willing to try it!
  • Boost confidence. Preschoolers love to show what they can do and working in the kitchen provides opportunities to gain a sense of accomplishment. If they helped assemble the pizza, let them know that their help was important. You could name the pizza or another dish after your child. Serve “Will’s Pizza” or “Ella’s Salad” for dinner tonight. Even if the end results are not exactly what you expected, praise their efforts.

And when we cook or bake from family recipes or those that are linked to holidays—blintzes for Shavuot or round challot for Rosh Hashanah—we provide a living link to our family stories and Jewish traditions. When we make our bubbe’s kugel, a part of who she is, or was, is in the kitchen with us. By cooking and baking together, we link our grandchildren to generations of Jews and to Jewish people around the world.

* Benefits drawn from KidsHealth. Click HERE 

About the Author

David Raphael is CEO and Co-Founder of the Jewish Grandparents Network.