Inviting your kids to help you cook is an important part of child-rearing. Many lessons can be learned as you allow your child to help you with meal preparation. Here are some tips to get you started cooking with your kids.
Even young children can be invited to help in the kitchen as long as you have time to supervise them and give them guidance. Never invite your child to help you prepare a meal when you are rushed or tired. Cooking together should be a fun and relaxed time for both of you. Pick a night when dinner and dishes and family time at home are the only things left on the to do list. Plan a meal that is easy to make and preferably one that your child likes. Make the atmosphere in your kitchen welcoming. If you have more than one child you might want to begin by inviting them to help you one at time. A ratio of one or two parents to one child is preferred when starting out.
Establish Safety Rules
- Remind your child to always wash their hands before handling any food and to wash their hands when finished working in the kitchen.
- A child should never approach the stove without a parent being there to supervise until you are certain your child can handle the responsibility safely.
- Always turn pot and pan handles towards the back of the stove.
- Keep young children away from hot stoves and ovens and sharp knives.
- Don’t let your child sample raw meat or eggs.
- Wear an apron to protect against spills and splatters.
Benefits of Cooking with Your Kids
Inviting your kids to cook with you builds their confidence. As they become more and more independent using various cooking utensils and helping to plan and make meals, their confidence will grow. Knowing that you welcome their presence and trust them to help you will grow your child’s confidence in you and in themself.
Working in the kitchen requires communication. Whether you are discussing the preparation and timing of the meal you are making or talking about your day as you wait for something to finish cooking, you and your child are strengthening your bonds of trust, respect, relationship and communication. Children often open up when they are in a safe environment with someone they love and trust.
Pride in Helping
As your child helps in the kitchen and gains confidence in their abilities they will also gain a sense of pride as they serve food they have prepared to other family members. This pride in helping will also give your child a strong sense of belonging to the family as well as being a valued member of the family.
Planning and Timing
Working in the kitchen teaches your child a lot about timing and planning. Making sure all aspects of a meal are ready at the same time is a crucial aspect to being a successful cook. Allow your child to help you plan out the sequence of cooking a meal when they are old enough to do so.
The kitchen is a great place to teach kids math. Measuring, volume, weight, fractions, comparisons, estimations, counting and adding are all skills needed to become a good cook. These skills will prepare your child for the more complex math skills needed later in school for geometry and algebra.
Recipes will need to be read, understood and followed. Encourage your child to read the recipe you are preparing, encourage them to consult the recipe when they can’t remember what step to do next. Explain and help your child with any complicated words.
Don’t force your child to help you in the kitchen. You want a willing and enthusiastic helper. Cooking together should be an enjoyable activity for all of you and one you look forward to.
Allowing your child into the kitchen has many positive benefits for both of you, don’t wait too long to find ways your kids can help. Teaching kids to cook for themselves will ensure that when they leave home to attend post-secondary school they will be better able to fend for themselves.