Teaching children to cook may have its challenges, but it’s the perfect one-on-one activity for Moms and Dads to spend time with their kids and a fantastic opportunity to teach your children a skill that can last them a lifetime.
Let’s take a look at a few things to keep in mind when teaching kiddies the wonders of cooking:
- Give confidence: Creating restaurant or gourmet dishes isn’t the outcome you are looking to achieve during this exercise. Other than having the goal of teaching your child(ren) to cook, there is the underlying goal of having a child who feels confident and happy with their end result, so encourage and compliment where you can.
- Do age appropriate activities: Consider your child(ren)’s motor skills and abilities before giving them a task e.g. don’t give a 2 year old a sharp knife to cut up vegetables with, but rather give them the vegetables to wash in the kitchen sink or bowl. Here is a quick reference on suitable activities for the age groups:
- Under 3s: Washing, drying, mixing, sieving, sprinkling, mashing.
- 3 – 5 year olds: Weighing, pouring, mixing, kneading, tearing / breaking food apart, cutting of soft butters and / or vegetables,
- 5 – 7 year olds: Cutting (with small knife / scissors), peeling, beating, folding, measuring, setting of table.
- 8 – 11 year olds: All of the above, whisking, opening of cans, following a simple recipe, planning a family’s meal.
- 12 years and up: All of the above, more complex meals.
- Relax: Children have an uncanny ability to sense anxiety and worry and if you’re tense, it could have a negative effect on them i.e. they may tend to make more mistakes. If you’re feeling nervous about them working with knives, blenders and / or other potentially hazardous kitchen equipment, relax, give clear instructions and supervise where necessary.
- Teach hygiene: Wash hands before beginning any slicing, dicing or cooking. For younger children, explain each time why you are washing your hands, so it becomes a natural process for them in the future.
- Involve them in the entire process: While you may be teaching your child(ren) to cook, there are other aspects to the preparation and cooking of food such as the cleaning up and packing away of food and kitchen items. Make sure to involve them in this process to ensure they don’t think the cooking experience ends when the cooking is complete. You will thank me for this later!
- Vary cooking methods and recipes: Try different recipes and cooking methods to ensure variety and reduce the possibility of kids becoming bored with the cooking experience.
- Have fun: While this is a learning experience for your child(ren), make it fun for them where you can. And, as the parent, have fun spending the time with them as you will be creating another memory for both your futures.