by Emily Downey
Teaching your children to cook can be a wonderful way to increase their skills and accomplishments in a fun and rewarding way. It can build their confidence and social skills in interacting with other students, improve their reading and instruction taking, and can create a sense of achievement all without them realizing they are learning.
There are a number of cooking classes available around Tokyo for your children to participate in that are inexpensive, compatible with after school hours, and are available for kids as young as three years of age.
Cooking with Ushka
Having taught English and cooking for a number of years it was the next logical step to move onto children’s cooking classes after she had children of her own. Ushka, a New Zealander and Tokyoite of seven years has been teaching children’s cooking classes at a very childfriendly space in Yoyogi, lunaluna, for almost three years. The classes are tailored for both parents and their children so they can have quality time together while learning some new skills in the kitchen.
Classes are held as cooking parties whereby the kids cook together and then sit down and eat as a group, thus creating a perfect environment for teaching—including some table manners—as children tend to learn extremely well from one another.
The maximum number in each class is eight pairs, and, as often the children have never met before, there are warm-up songs and games (in English) to introduce everyone and set a relaxed mood. Japanese and foreign children attend the classes, which are held once or twice a month, however, more classes are available on request.
The classes are held in Sangubashi, four minutes’ walk from Sangubashi station (two stops from Shinjuku on the Odakyu line). Sangubashi station is stroller-friendly and the lunaluna room has space for parking strollers. The room has boiled water for bottles, a changing mat and a toddler toilet seat for those who are toilet training.
Ushka encourages those with small babies to join the classes as even babies as young as a few months old can hold a spoon or bang on a pot while their mums receive a recipe that is easy to recreate at home after the class with their child.
The class fee for one and a half hours is ¥3,000 for one pair (parent and child), this includes all the ingredients, any craft materials needed for the pre-cooking activities and a certificate at the end of the class. There is usually enough food to take some home afterwards too. For more information please email Ushka, or check her website. [email protected] www.ushka.net/lunacooking.html
ABC Kids Cooking School
ABC, a large and successful cooking chain for adults, now has a number of kids’ cooking schools dotted around the metropolis. All children from four to twelve years of age are welcome to join a class.
Regular classes include baking bread in cute shapes, making Japanese lunchbox food, desserts such as jellies, and basic Japanese dishes designed to be healthy and loved by kids. Classes are held in Japanese making it a great way to boost your child’s learning of the language in a fun and practical setting and it makes for a great way to make new Japanese friends outside of your child’s school environment.
Classes are available everyday in a variety of suburban and city locations, with the nearest kids cooking school conveniently located in Setagaya ward. You can arrange a class to coincide with picking your child up from the various international schools in this area.
Special Halloween kids’ cooking classes are running from now until Oct. 31. The cost is ¥2,500 for one and a half hours of cooking, and you get to take home your baked goods such as Halloween-themed, pumpkin-baked donuts, both iced and decorated.
For mums (or dads), a brand new adult cooking school has opened up in Tokyo Midtown, where classes are held in English. You can learn to cook Japanese style cakes, sweets and baked goods, and all classes come with English recipe sheets.
See www.abc-cooking.co.jp for more information.
Keiki International School
At Keiki International School’s cooking classes, kids are encouraged to feel, touch, taste, and explore through cooking and eating “scrumptious” meals together. Healthy diets are also emphasized in this nine-week program, which starts this month and runs through to December.
The school provides a place where kids can enjoy cooking classes in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. The diverse backgrounds of the instructors gives the opportunity for the kids to learn how to cook a variety of meals from different continents, while at the same time learning about geography too.
The classes are open to children aged from three to twelve and are held on Thursdays 3:30–5pm.
The classes cost ¥36,000 for nine lessons and the next session starts this month. All materials and insurance are included. The school is conveniently located between Seisen and St. Mary’s and a pick up service from these schools is available. 4-5-8 Nakamachi, Setagaya-ku. www.keikipreschool.com.
A simple no-baking-required recipe for kids
Heat the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until melted. Put spoonfuls of the melted chocolate onto baking paper and use the back of the spoon to flatten them. Decorate with dried fruits, nuts, gummy bears, sprinkles, whatever you like. Children enjoy making faces on these. Put into the refrigerator until set (30–40 minutes) and then serve with hot chocolate on a cool autumn day.