Today was the kick off to my ELEVENTH year teaching preschool cooking classes. My classes consists of children ranging from 3 to 4 years old and are focused on much more than just cooking. I believe in teaching children from an early age the importance of making positive eating choices. Hearing the vocabulary of a healthy diet and understanding the power they have in making positive food decisions will ultimately lead them into a healthful adulthood.
Over the past 11 years I've been able to culminate my experience as a preschool teacher, my own "mom" knowledge and my experience as a fitness professional that is certified in fitness nutrition to develop recipes and lessons that motivate these little students.
During our first month of cooking class this year we will be talking about our 5 senses; sight, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching. We will use these 5 things to explore a variety of foods and learning how our bodies need many different kind of foods to keep our energy high and to help us be strong. This is an important catch phrase to repeat to your child as you try to get them to try new foods.
Today at cooking class we discussed the 5 senses and then tried a variety of foods. We talked about seeing our food. Providing your child with a colorful plate will not only provide them with lots of important vitamins and minerals but it will give you an easy way to spark up conversation about the colors they see on their plate.
When trying new foods have your kids touch and smell the new food. Ask them how they think it smells. Do they think it will taste the same way? How does it feel? Is it sticky, hot, cold?
Next, ask them to try something. Ask them to be really quiet. Can they hear their food? This can be really fun and different for them because they don't usually think of food making noise but today we tried crunchy pretzels, which they liked. We, also, had cucumbers and sweet peppers which kids were more hesitant to try but after trying crunchy pretzels they were more eager to try another crunchy food like a cucumber. Remember to praise them for trying the new thing! Let them know how awesome they are for eating healthy foods that will make them strong!
Lastly, tasting! Discuss flavors. Is their food salty? How about sweet? Avoid questions about them liking it. Focus on the positive of them trying something new that is good for them.
The most important thing I've learned from teaching preschool cooking class is that kids will surprise you! There are things you are sure they would never try let alone like. But kids are constantly changing and so many of the decisions they make are based on the way that an idea is presented to them. If you stay positive and keep introducing new foods on a regular basis this will become the new normal to them. According to the USDA, it can take kids 8 to 15 tries before they start to like new foods. So don't give up. Offering a variety of foods will help them learn to accept new foods regularly and will lead them to healthier habits as they grow.