Thanks to cable television and online streaming services, there are now many cooking shows, reality cooking contests, and food shows available for audiences of all ages. While parents tune in mainly to discover new recipes and kitchen hacks, kids can learn a lot as well, whether it’s watching Gordon Ramsay demonstrate how to make scrambled eggs on Masterchef Junior, or learning how to make a volcano-shaped cake on Netflix’s Nailed It! Here are some ways cooking shows can be good for your child’s mind and character:
1. When food is made in an entertaining way, they’re more eager to try it out. At home, kids are used to seeing food at the final stage—when it’s served in front of them at dinner time. When the food is something new, they tend to regard it with suspicion because they don’t know what went into making it. But when they see food being prepared on television—i.e. they hear the sizzle of the food on the pan, they see how the chocolate is melted into something gooey and yummy, they see the judges closing their eyes in ecstasy upon tasting the food—their curiosity is aroused, and they will most likely turn to you and say “I want to eat that!” Which leads to benefit #2…
2. They will want to help out in the kitchen. Most kids are afraid to prepare food because they think the process is complicated and dangerous (i.e. sharp knives and open flame). But when seen on TV, cooking becomes something fun and magical. Shows featuring young contestants are especially helpful in nudging your wannabe-chef into action—if your twelve-year-old sees an eight-year-old making scrambled eggs with ease, you can be sure he’ll be raring to make his own breakfast in no time!
3. By learning about different kinds of food, they can also learn about other cultures, and even pick up some foreign vocabulary. When your kids ask why Gordon Ramsay pronounces words differently compared to, say, Rachel Ray, that’s your cue to talk about the United Kingdom and the United States. Kids will also get a kick upon finding out they can now speak a bit of French (i.e. “bisque,” “soufflé,” “entrée”), Italian (i.e. “al dente,” risotto,” prosciutto”), and Spanish (i.e. “jalapeno,” “pimiento,” “arroz”).
4. Cooking is another way for kids to learn about math and science. There is no escaping math and science in the kitchen. Here, you can introduce your child to concepts like the four mathematical operations, fractions, measurement, fractions, temperature, chemistry, physics, the process of observing and analyzing data, etc – all in a fun way.
5. Lastly, cooking shows help build character. Reality cooking shows, specifically, teach kids the importance of persevering in the face of challenges, innovating when things don’t go as planned, and good sportsmanship. Kids also see it how it is to work under pressure, to accept constructive criticism, and to learn from their mistakes.