Cooking with Teens Terbet Lane blog post

5 Surprising Benefits of Cooking with Your Homeschooled Teen

Why should cooking be a part of your homeschool curriculum?

All three of my kids like to cook but it was always very sporadic. My middle child decided he wanted to make his own birthday cake one year. My youngest tried his hand at making donuts during lockdown. My daughter even had a business making birthday cakes for dogs for a little while. So it wasn't a stretch when I decided to include cooking as a homeschool subject last fall. My youngest is my only student now and I thought it would be a fun, hands on learning experience. A year later, these are my top 5 reasons I think you should consider including cooking in your homeschool.

1. Bonding with your teen

When our kids hit the teen years it can sometime feel like all of our interactions are very instructional. Chore reminders, school work reminders, and all of the little corrections along the way. While all of that is important, it has been so fun to spend time with my son as he cooks. We laugh and talk and I love that there are so many opportunities to say to him "Wow, you really did a great job there". 

2. Boosts Creativity and Problem-Solving Abilities

Cooking allows teens to experiment with flavors, textures, and ingredients. They can unleash their creativity by trying new recipes. My son has tried several recipes for dishes he thought he didn't like but just sounded fun to make. It turns out he did like those things and is now even more adventurous when it comes to food. 

By following a recipe and really thinking through what each step means, teens develop problem-solving skills and learn to think on their feet, an ability which benefits them in every area of life.  

3. Encourages Healthy Eating Habits

By involving your children in cooking, you can instill healthy eating habits from an early age. They will learn about the nutritional value of different ingredients and understand the importance of a balanced diet. Cooking together also encourages them to try new foods and develop a taste for wholesome, homemade meals.

4. Fosters Independence and Responsibility

Cooking requires planning, organization, and following instructions. When we started our cooking class, I was very involved in helping my son choose recipes. I guided him to choose recipes that were more beginner friendly and less time consuming. Over time as his skills increased, he was more able to make realistic recipe choices. Now, he might ask my advice here and there but he is completely in charge of deciding what to make each week. He has learned so much about time management and has developed a healthy self confidence in the kitchen. He's also learned that even though cleaning up after isn't much fun, it's just part of the deal when you cook. 

5. Math & Science Skills

Cooking involves precise measurements, conversions, and understanding temperature and time. By following recipes, your teen can practice their math skills, such as fractions and ratios. Additionally, cooking introduces scientific concepts such as chemical reactions and the transformation of ingredients. My son enjoyed watching relevant "Good Eats" episodes. Alton Brown is great at explaining cooking science, such as what is happening chemically that causes overcooked fried chicken to become greasy. My son has always been a "Why?" kid. 

6. Bonus Benefit

One last bonus benefit of teaching your kids to cook is having help in the kitchen. There have been several times when I need more hands in the kitchen and my son comes to my rescue keeping an eye on something in the oven or completely taking over a side dish so I can focus on the main dish. 

Check out My Top 4 Tips for Homeschool Cooking with Teens to see how I began our homeschool cooking class.

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