Cooking with Kids
Dani Reichert

Cooking with kids teaches them life skills

Cooking with Kids
Dani Reichert

Cooking with kids teaches them life skills

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I enjoy cooking and baking with my daughter.  Cooking has been a great way for her to learn many daily living skills.  What is wonderful about cooking with your child is that it is the ultimate trifecta – a) you get to spend quality time with your child, b) you get to eat some yummy food, and c) your child learns a ton of valuable daily living skills.

This article will focus on how to use cooking to teach living skills.   When I was working with students in middle school as an occupational therapist, I would often push into the Life Skills class and work on these “Activities of Daily Living,” or ADLs, as we call them.

Cooking With Kids Teaches These 5 Life Skills

  1. Reading skills.  Kids can follow recipes based on their reading level: you can write or find recipes that have words with pictures or just words.  We used a fabulous online weekly newspaper called News2You geared specifically for students with unique learning needs. Every week it had current and world event articles along with a recipe. It’s a paid yearly subscription that may be well worth the money.
  2. Practical Math Skills.  Recipes involve a lot of counting and measuring.
  3. Following instructions.  Recipes are great ways to get a child to follow a sequence of instructions and be organized.  It is also super easy to discover what happens when you skip a step or do it in the wrong order.  We’ve had some terrible outcomes that we can laugh about!
  4. Bilateral skills. which means using two hands together, like mixing with a spoon, pouring ingredients into a bowl, etc.
  5. Motor skills and dexterity. Children as young as 3 can learn knife skills using a plastic or dull butter knife to cut soft foods like a banana and strawberries, with parental supervision.  Handling and gripping ingredients of various sizes (eggs, beans, nuts, and raisins) are great ways to practice fine motor skills.

Suggestions for Recipes to Cook with Kids

Here are some great websites to check out to start getting busy in the kitchen with your kids. Some are cooking clubs to join, which are pretty cool. Explore these websites, then fire up the kitchen and start cooking!


I guarantee you will get as much out of it as your child(ren). It’s a fun, interactive, hands-on way to spend time teaching your kiddos new skills and spending quality time together.  😁

About the Author

Hi! I’m an occupational therapy professional with 15 years of experience servicing children ages 3-21 in the public school system. My specializations include: assistive technology, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, although I service children with a variety of special needs and disabilities. My real connection into pediatrics began after we adopted our daughter from South Korea in 2001. She came to us with unique needs at about 1 1/2 yrs old (she’s now 21) and I’ve been advocating for her ever since. I have years of experience attending PPT’s and 504 meetings while wearing two hats: one of a parent advocating for her child and one as a professional advocating for students. My passion is being able to help children navigate their world by learning through play using easily accessible and inexpensive items (I love the Dollar Store!) or out in nature. By creating safe and meaningful therapeutic activities while thinking “out of the box” helps keep it fun and engaging! I strive to help children become more independent in all areas of their life, from Preschool to High School, and transition skills into the community. Lets put the “Fun” in “Function” together!

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