Teaching your kids cooking skills is no new topic on this blog… and for good reason! Cooking [from scratch] is “the single most important thing we could do as a family to improve our health and general well-being” according to Michael Pollan. Learning how to cook takes time and practice and, since most schools don’t teach this important life skill, it’s up to us as the parents to make sure it happens! I think the first step to get your kids interested in cooking is to give them the confidence they can do it.
We’ve shared recipes and other ways to get things started with you and your kids in the past, but I’ve come to realize that you (thankfully) don’t have to be their only teacher. Our family has recently discovered the plethora of classes and camps out there with a focus on cooking from scratch. I honestly did not even realize cooking camps existed until this year, and once I told my kids about it they were so excited to go this summer!
Cooking Classes for Kids
I’ve personally taken a few cooking classes myself, but the idea to involve my kids first started when we gave our daughter a class as a gift for her 11th birthday. I wrote all about it on the blog, and since then I’ve taken a sushi making class with my other daughter (her choice!) and both girls have loved the experience. Not to mention it was nice quality time together doing something we both could enjoy. Even the most seasoned cooks can learn new skills or different ways to do things at a class!
We took our classes at the Whole Foods cooking school (called Salud!) here in Charlotte, but I’ve seen other options in our area at local restaurants (including Passion8) as well as kitchen stores (such as Williams-Sonoma). Just be sure to check the minimum age requirements, although I will say I was able to get my kids in even though they were younger than 12 simply by asking and letting the school know they had previous experience. I think as long as you are there supervising and not sending them on their own, they are more flexible! I’ve seen other classes offered that are geared toward younger age groups as well.
Cooking Camps for Kids
There are several choices for culinary camps here in Charlotte. This summer we signed up for our first one and went with a camp by a local company, Chef Alyssa, but weeklong camps are also offered at Whole Foods which obviously has more locations. I’ve also heard of a third camp in our area, but was told it’s more of a “birthday party food” camp as opposed to healthy cooking from scratch.
This is honestly why we went with Chef Alyssa and were so excited about her camp. These kids made EVERYTHING from scratch (even more so than we do at home!) down to making their own hamburger buns and grinding their own meat for the burgers. My 9-year-old attended the camp with two of Kiran’s daughters, and all three loved it. The other day I started to chop a bell pepper in the kitchen for dinner and she said, “Wait! Can I show you how I learned to chop them at camp?” And sure enough her (new) way was better than my method. :)
Each day of camp had a theme, and the results ended up being their lunch (lucky them). In addition to the Burger Day they had a Pizza Day (where they made the dough from scratch), a Summer BBQ Day with marinated chicken skewers, and a Taco Day (with made-from-scratch tortillas) that they got to share with family members who could join on the last day. All foods (most) kids love! And they got a recipe booklet and apron at the end so they can continue to practice their new skills at home. Here are some snapshots of all the fun…
Whether your kid has never stepped foot in the kitchen or helps you all the time, I think a cooking class or camp is such a fun way to get them excited about cooking and give them the confidence they can do it. We would definitely let our girls go to a camp (or class) like this again in the future!
Online Cooking Resources for Kids
I realize not every town has this many great alternatives, so another thing to consider is an online camp or set of classes. You can do a search for options that meet your needs or check out our partner Katie with Kitchen Stewardship. Katie shared some tips for learning knife skills with us last week, and I definitely think her class is worth checking out. If you still have a couple weeks left of summer before school starts (like us!), this may just be the thing to help you beat the heat and avoid end of summer boredom.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on cooking classes and camps for kids in the comments below!
22 thoughts on “Teaching Your Kids Cooking Skills is SO Important!”
When I was younger, which was a long time ago, we were in 4-H and I learned most of my cooking, sewing, gardening etc. skills there and from my mother.
In some areas, the farms offer cooking classes. My son was able to harvest eggs from under the chicken (which they learned about breeds, care etc), then make his lunch of omelettes with vegetables he pulled from the garden. They also had a day to learn about the pigs (no slaughtering, but the meat was from a meat distributer not from grocery store so they could see where the various cuts came from), milk (they milked the cow and made shakes/smoothies), and just learned about the produce from that site (and made salads). The fifth day was like yours, a culminating event where they made food for their families.
My little ones 7 and 5 love to help in the kitchen and I have gotten them involved as some comments say when they could stand and we use and still do a step stool. They have also taken a few classes at Hyvee and loved them. They made smoothies and pizzas. I will def be looking into some classes in the area we just moved to.
Their school also offers Enrichment Classes during the after school program and cooking is one of them. Def going to check into them. It is required for them to pick a couple of classes every 9 weeks.
Great blog. Just one comment, as a teacher we have a lot on our plate. I think teaching your child to cook should be done at home. Teachers do a lot of “parenting” jobs. Sorry for that just had to say it. I do love everything you produce!
The article was about the different options for kids to learn how to cook. Its not about teachers at school teaching kids to cook its about the different options in available in communities for kids.
I think she’s also referencing the days of Home Economics classes where students were taught to cook, sew, etc…
This is great! Here in Charlotte, my daughter has taken cooking classes through Charlotte Latin summer camps… they were great… especially because she is 5 and it is sometimes hard to find cooking camps for the younger ages.
Love this! Sue la Table has kids and teen cooking camps all summer. My daughter is in one now and loves it!! Kind of pricey but a fantastic skill to have !
My daughters have taken some cooking classes through area public libraries. The topics vary depending on whether or not the library has a kitchen, but so far they have made Vietnamese spring rolls, pita and kale chips, tzatziki and humus, homemade pasta, and have an upcoming Mexican themed class and sushi class. My daughters have also taken classes at a local grocery store (HyVee) with their Girl Scout troops. Sadly, these classes involve less real food, white boxed pasta, jarred sauce, etc. but they still had fun.
Love cooking classes for kids! My boys love to help out in the kitchen (they are 4) and I know they would love cooking camps when they are old enough.
What is the better way to cut the bell pepper???
This article seems to focus on girls. Boys need to learn to cook as well.
The personal anecdotes are focused on girls because the author only has daughters. Everything else was gender-neutral. I’m sure if she had a son, she’d have happily sent him to a cooking class/camp as well. I do agree that boys need to learn to cook just as much as girls do. I only have a boy and I’ll be darned if I’ll let him grow up to be useless in the kitchen! :-)
Because the author has daughter’s!
This is amazing! I had no idea this was even a thing. I wish I had stuff like this available to me growing up because I wasn’t taught how to cook. I just had my first baby in June and her dad and I have both vowed that we want to teach her better habits. Things like this will be great for her as she gets older!
Can I please be added to the Fall Camp/Class distribution/sign up list for children?!
Hi Jennifer. You can register through the links provided in the post. Here is Chef Alyssa’s: http://www.chefalyssaskitchen.com/events/kids-culinary-camp/.
I love the idea of teaching kids to cook, and getting them involved. My mom taught my sister and I when I was about five, but got us involved almost from the time I learned how to stand. It amazes me how many people today don’t want to learn, and are proud of the fact. It’s kind of sad.
Cooking is such an important life skill! I have a goal that when my boy goes off to college, he knows how to cook 7-10 dishes (he’s only 2, so I have time :-)
I took a weekend cooking class once as a child (about 25 years ago!) and it absolutely inspired me. I remember we made a cheese souffle and risotto. It gave me so much confidence to know that I could follow a recipe and make something delicious. After that class, browsing my mom’s cookbooks became a habit and I loved making something for my family on the weekend (mostly baked goods).
Have you heard of Healthy Hands Cooking? If so what are your thoughts? Do they do a good job of teaching kids to cook from scratch?
Sorry, not familiar with it.
Great topic. Cooking camp is an excellent idea!
Luckily mine loves to cook. And to Pinterest. Which leads to experimentation.