Cooking with Kids
Time spent cooking with your children is time spent bonding over a common objective and goal. Cooking affords kids the opportunity to stretch their creative imagination and hone their basic math skills by measuring ingredients. The sense of accomplishment that comes with making a meal can also be a great boost to your child's self-esteem!
Bringing your child into the kitchen is a definite win-win for everyone. But doing so also requires some preparation and attention to detail.
Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when heating up the oven with your little ones …
Before cooking, take a few minutes to talk to your child about the rules and potential dangers of the kitchen. Remind them in clear and simple terms that burners stay hot even after pots and pans are removed. Talk to them about the potential dangers of sharp kitchen objects, such as knives, peelers and can-openers, and the harmful effects of hot water and ovens, as well.
Be vigilant. Always make sure to closely supervise your child during the cooking process. Never leave your child unattended.
Let your child take part in the planning process. They can help select the recipe or choose which of their favorite ingredients should be used. Letting them take part in the planning process will give them a greater sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
Give 'Em A Lift
Help your children help you by providing a stool to stand on while they're helping in the kitchen. The lift will give them a better perspective on what's going on overhead—and they'll be able to help out with tasks that would otherwise be out of reach! If they have trouble balancing on a stool, try working at small table, for instance, to lower the surfaces that you're working on.
When you assign your child a task, make sure that task is age appropriate. Younger children under the age of five, for example, shouldn't handle sharp objects. Instead, let them help mix ingredients in a plastic bowl or help wash fruit or vegetables in the sink. Preschoolers should be given their own safe, age appropriate utensils to work with—preferably made of plastic or wood. Younger children can also help sort through and organize cans and other ingredients on the kitchen counter.
If they're starting to count numbers, this is a great time to have them measure ingredients. Are they reading? Have them read each step of the recipe aloud while you're cooking!
Pots and Pans
Turn the handles of pots and pans inward. This will help avoid any unnecessary spills or accidents.
Kids are some of the pickiest eaters around. But if they have a hand in making something, they're much more likely to try it when it's finished! This is a great time to introduce foods they may be hesitant to try like vegetables and fruits.
Cooking together is also a great time to teach your children about the values of cleaning. Have them use a mop to clean any messes on the floor or use a washcloth to clean off the counters after the cooking is complete. With the excitement of the kitchen, cleaning will seem more fun!
Cooking doesn't have to be stressful. Focus on the fun aspects of the kitchen while you're cooking and the quality time you are spending with your children. The impressions you leave with your kids about cooking at this stage can have a lasting impact. Always remember to have fun. Don't be afraid to be silly. Children love textures and smells—let them indulge their senses!