All ages & stages can help in the kitchen in some way. Young children especially like to contribute to their families in meaningful ways. How often do they volunteer to help without even being asked? Sometimes this means extra time at tasks and a few spills along the way, but all of this is paving the way for an independent and capable future!
Having a hand in the kitchen also fosters an appreciation for all the work you do every day to ensure meals are made and also leads to more adventurous eating. When a child is given an opportunity to handle food and see how it is made, they are more likely to find excitement in trying new foods.
I remember it dawning on me one day that if my kids could operate a tablet or computer, that they could surely figure out how to load and run a dishwasher. Below is a list of suggestions of ways to involve your children in the kitchen. Each child is capable of different jobs at different ages, but the good news is that it is never really too early to start. Consider ways that might be appropriate for your child to get involved in the kitchen with you and let the fun begin!
• infants can sit in their high chair and learn about bowls and spoons by handling & exploring them, they are also keenly observing what happens in the kitchen and will at some point surprise you with their knowledge
• toddlers can help set the table, fold the napkins, get ingredients out of the cupboard
• preschoolers can turn on some classical music, rinse fruit & veggies, stirring or whisking ingredients in a bowl, cutting soft fruit with a butter knife, peeling vegetables with supervision
• school-agers can begin to have a little more freedom in the kitchen by following simple recipes such as making their own vegetable dip as well as learning how to crack & whisk eggs while still needing supervision for other tasks like cooking eggs, boiling water and making pasta, using a pairing knife
• teenagers can begin to plan for, shop and create recipes independently, begin developing more complicated knife skills, learning how to use the barbeque
Teaching your children these skills is an investment – in time, patience and paper towel. But most things worth doing take a degree of effort! The investment now will reap rewards in the future. A few weeks ago, my kids made dinner from start to finish independently for the first time while I had the chance to relax after a long day. It was a savoury reward and definitely worth all the effort.
Photo credit: Unsplash Hannah Tasker