By nature, children are curious creatures, they love to explore and learn and especially take part in anything that mommy, daddy or a sibling is doing. As a parent, it’s important to encourage our kids in their exploration of life. One fantastic and easy way to help them learn and grow is to let them get involved whenever possible – including letting your kids in the kitchen!
Kids in the Kitchen: Tips for All Ages
The kitchen is called the heart of the home for a reason; for most of us, the kitchen is used more than any other room in our house. Take advantage of this by making the kitchen a fun place to learn for everyone. Even the simplest of meals can seem exciting again by getting some help from the little people in your life. Plus, an advantage to having kids in the kitchen is that they may be more inclined to try the food that they have helped prepare (great news for all the parents of picky eaters out there).
The Littlest Chefs (Ages 1-3)
- Simple instructions are best for this age group. One option is to ask your child to retrieve the different ingredients and tools you will need one item at a time.
- Have your Little Chef pull up a chair and watch as you measure out your wet and dry ingredients into smaller bowls or containers. Once everything is pre-measured, your Little Chef can pour the items into the main mixing bowl. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about the different measurements we use in the kitchen, as well as practice simple counting skills.
- Once the ingredients are in the mixing bowl, pass the spoon, fork or spatula over to your helper and let them stir it up. Sure, it’ll be messier than if you had done it yourself, but it can easily be cleaned up afterwards and your child will enjoy their special time with you!
Mini Mommy & Daddy (Ages 4-5)
- At this age, kids can begin to help with the measuring and pouring of wet and dry ingredients. Show them how to level out the dry ingredients and how to check the measure of wet ingredients. Kids this age can also help to crack an egg into a bowl, though keep in mind that this skill can be tricky to master so expect some shell in the bowl.
- Preschoolers at this age can start to learn different techniques such as beating or whipping, and you can also show your kids how to scrape the sides of the bowl to really ensure that all of the ingredients are combined.
- Let your kids wash or scrub ingredients such as potatoes or lettuce, and some very soft items such as berries can be cut up by them using a plastic knife.
School Age Wonders (Ages 6-8)
- These handy helpers can start to take on even more independence. Let them read the recipe card and help to gather all of the ingredients.
- Go over basic knife safety with them and let them share the task of peeling veggies and cutting up almost anything!
Chefs in Training (Ages 9+)
- Kids should now be able to take on independent projects in the kitchen. While under supervision, your budding chef can tackle a batch of cookies all on their own.
- You can also start teaching your child skills such as mincing, chopping and dicing. Also this is a great age to learn the skill of separating an egg, but you might want to buy an extra carton while practicing this one!
- Cooking with kids in the kitchen takes a little longer than you may be used to; it’s best to attempt this when you have the extra time to be patient with them. This ensures that your kids associate cooking with positive feelings.
- Having kids in the kitchen means that everything will be exponentially messier than cooking on your own. Expect the spills and messes and remember that you can clean it up after (hopefully with help from your helpers!).
- Even your very young kids can help with the clean up and table setting. Be sure to share the tasks between all family members to make it a true family effort!
- Don’t forget to let your children know when they’ve done a job well!
The more that you have kids in the kitchen, the more you will realize that you have created a new and special way to spend time with them…and they may even discover that cooking is something they are passionate about!