Many parents are at a loss as to how to keep children busy and entertained without resorting to plonking them in front of the TV all day.Well, how about getting them cooking and baking in the kitchen? According to a recent article in The New York Times, cooking is a way to talk to youngsters about health, healthy ingredients and healthy eating. It can also bring families closer together.Donna Verrydt, organiser of the children’s national cooking competition Taste Bud Battle, says: “Getting kids in the kitchen provides them with practical experience with many essential skills, and cooking as a family brings everyone together and creates a bonding experience.”So what other benefits are there to cooking and baking with your kids in the kitchen? . It increases language development, since kids are not only learning and talking about different ingredients, but also following recipe directions which enhances receptive language skills. . It enhances fine motor skills. Mixing ingredients, rolling dough and using cookie cutters are all great ways to enhance a child’s fine motor strength and control, which are needed to develop academic skills such as writing, cutting and colouring-in. . It increases maths skills given that cooking and baking involves a lot of measurement such as cups, teaspoons and tablespoons, as well as fractions and addition and subtraction proficiency. . It improves reading skills since children have to read the recipes, and it also helps enhance reading comprehension. . It introduces children to scientific concepts as they learn what happens when certain ingredients are mixed together correctly or incorrectly. . It increases focus and attention, or else the recipe they are following will result in the final product not turning out correctly. Kids learn quickly that they have to pay attention if they want to eat that delicious tasting brownie they wanted to make. . It teaches life skills and safety lessons such as how to be an independent adult and not to touch a hot stove or how to use a knife. . It boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. When a child is able to successfully complete a recipe and create a tasty dish, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.