As a grandparent, you have the amazing opportunity to pass along your traditions to the next generation. You have the advantage over the generation below you in that you are farther back in history. You possess traditions, stories and knowledge about your family’s past that are worth preserving in your family tree. Cooking has always been a way to pass down one’s traditions to the younger generations, and here are a few ways to help you do exactly that.
Make It Fun
No matter how educational your cooking time is, your grandchildren are going to remember it as either a lot of fun, or something they would rather not remember at all. Choose to make it fun. Focus on your relationship with your grandchildren and find ways to connect. Learning happens most naturally when everyone is at ease and having a good time. Think of the most fun aspects of your traditions and make those a priority to teach.
Start with Kid-Friendly Recipes
As your grandchildren grow older, you will want to give them every bit of info you have, including your most complicated recipes. For now though, stick to food that is not difficult to make. This will pique their interest instead of discouraging them. Focus first on the kid-friendly recipes and eventually branch out from there.
As you are cooking together with your grandchildren, include all the details of preparation. Steps in the cooking process that you may take for granted, may feel foreign to them. Take your grandchildren with you to the stores you buy the ingredients from. Let them know how it feels to shop in a small grocery store that specializes in the foods of your home country.
If you prepare a food before using it, such as soaking, sprouting, etc., show your grandchildren and explain the entire process. Write it down for them as there will surely come a time they cannot remember every detail, but will wish to try it out themselves.
Educate While Working
While you are cooking with your grandchildren, center on food, but bring in other aspects of your cultural heritage as well. Include other customs that mean something to you, or meant something to your family. Teach them songs and short poems from your childhood.
If you are fluent in the language of your origin, teach your grandchildren words and help them expand their vocabulary. Tell them about customs, both serious and humorous. Share stories about your life when you were young, and how it relates to your family history.
Invite Your Grandchildren to Pass It On
When you take the time to cook with your grandchildren, make it an event. Make this a time for your grandchildren to share their newly acquired skills with the rest of your family, and perhaps even friends. Host a party where everyone can enjoy your culinary creations. Have your grandchildren recite some of the songs or stories that are now part of their known history. As they share their history with others, the torch is passed from your generation to theirs, and it continues on.
Grandparents are a special part of the family. You hold in your hands the link from the past to the future. Pass along your cultural heritage and family history using cooking as a tool. This special time will live long in the minds and hearts of your grandchildren and all generations to come.