THE BLOG

This March Break, Invite Your Kids Into Your Kitchen

03/09/2012 09:41 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Spring Break, or as most kids like to call it, "What are we going to do for fun now?"

Sure there are family field trips to go on, movies to watch, and adventures to take part in, but all too often by about Tuesday afternoon most parents are going to start hearing, "I'm bored!"

Why not invite them into your kitchen and start cooking with them? Okay, it may not be as exotic as flying somewhere warm for the week, but it's a cheap, cheerful, fun way to spend quality time with your children. A home-cooked staycation.

It's also a great time to teach your kids some life skills.

What can be learned in the kitchen:

Conversation: When kids, or anyone for that matter, are working with their hands, they start talking. You can't play a video game, watch TV, tweet, or text a friend while you're chopping. My son always shared his day while we cooked. If I asked him how his day had gone in any other situation, all I usually got was a grunt of "Fine." Asked while chopping, I got the whole scoop, details included.

Reading skills: Depending on their age and skill level, get your kids to read the recipe and instructions out loud.

Science: Cooking and baking are all about science, math, and chemistry. Fractions come into play when measuring, science when you are boiling, frying or baking, and chemistry in all types of baking. How do cakes rise? Why does water boil? Why is it important to measure? If you don't know the answers, go search the Internet together.

Life skill: Learning how to cook is a life skill that we all need. If you aren't all that great at cooking, go to the library or a book store and pick a book together and learn as a team. Learning something together is a great way to bond with your child.

Team Play: Many hands make light work -- cooking together teaches teamwork. Each member takes an element of the project -- say dinner. Your youngest sets the table and washes the vegetables, your middle child makes the salad, and your oldest preps and helps you with the entrée. Assign age-appropriate skills. And don't criticize. Yes, your kitchen may end up looking like a bomb hit it, but getting everyone involved in the clean up is part of the learning experience.

Padding your food repertoire: It has been shown over and over that if a child prepares or helps to prepare a meal, they are more apt to eat it. "If they make it, they will eat it." Works for all those picky eaters out there. Never had a sweet potato fry? Making them together is a great time to find out if they like them, chances are they will.

Socialization: Kids who sit down to eat dinner with their families do better in school, are more social, and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. Set the table, get out the pots and pans, and have dinner together more often.

As with any new habit, start off slowly.

If you haven't worked in the kitchen with your kids before, attempting dinner may be a bit too much the first go round. Baking cookies is a perfect way to start. Nothing beats warm cookies out of the oven served with a glass of milk.

For a great recipe that your kids will love try my Chewy Chocolate Chips Cookies.

Click here for the recipe, or check out my latest cookbook Healthy Starts Here! ; its geared to both kitchen rookies and veterans alike.

Whatever you pick, cooking with your children is a wonderful thing.