Keeping kids involved in cooking traditions

Preserve your kitchen traditions and help kids gain important life skills by teaching them about important holiday traditions and family customs.

It’s always fun to ask friends, neighbors and families what their favorite part of the holidays are because the answers vary so much! Some will say gift buying and receiving, others will say it’s the music and cheer, while many enjoy the decorations and feeling of the holidays. Most of all, people identify the holidays with food! Maybe it’s something they only get this time of year or it’s something that only a special person can make.

That should get you thinking: If holidays mean yummy food and that food is something we don’t get year-round, how do we continue that tradition? It’s with the kids! So often we get so busy with the holidays that we forget to ask the kids to get involved. People may think it’s just easier to do the holiday cooking and baking themselves. Yet, if we don’t engage the kids in the kitchen, we could be losing out on an opportunity to pass on tradition, create a memory with the children or teach the kids about our personal knowledge and customs that are so important to us.

You may be wondering what the kids can gain by being in the kitchen. They stand to gain a lot, like life skills! Life skills are a basic foundation that prepare youth for success in life. By teaching kids about cooking, baking, traditions, customs, holidays and much more, youth can gain important life skills such as:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Personal safety
  • Planning and organizing
  • Communication

The Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Program utilizes a tool from Iowa State University 4-H Youth Development called the "Targeting Life Skill Wheel" to help identify life skills.

As you ask others about their favorite part of the holidays, if you hear about a favorite dish, dessert or meal, encourage them to consider inviting a child into their kitchen to pass on their knowledge and traditions.

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