How Kids Can Help in the Kitchen and Learn Life Lessons Too!
As a mom, I always seem to be in the kitchen. Some of my best childhood memories are of working in the kitchen with my family. My mom would have me help with cleanup, set the table, and combine ingredients. Those memories have continued as I have grown up and have my own household to feed.
Benefits of Helping in the Kitchen
Cooking is a great way to teach kids lessons that will benefit them throughout their life. When you teach kids about cooking, they learn other skills such as; math, science, health, and proper nutrition. Along the way they will also pick up many lessons about what it takes to feed a family.
There are many hazards in the kitchen, so it is important to go over food safety with your children starting from the moment they begin walking. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has compiled some very helpful tips that will keep your children safe while working in the kitchen.
Age Appropriate Tasks
A child can begin participating in the kitchen at an early age. Pre-school age children can help with basic prep tasks such as washing fruits and veggies and breaking them up into smaller pieces. Later, they can progress to tasks such as setting the table, cleanup, measuring, mixing, and eventually cooking.
You know your child better than anyone, so use your best judgement when you give your child a kitchen task. One child may be able to start baking at nine or ten years old, while other children may not be able to handle that task until they are in their teens.
Children can improve their math skills from measuring out ingredients while they cook. Pre-school age children can practice counting by handing you the number of ingredients you need. As your children age, progress from measuring spoons and teaching conversions to measuring cups which will help them with their fractions.
Another great way for younger children to be involved in the kitchen is by mixing ingredients. Hand mixing can be attempted around 3 years old, although they will likely need some help. Gradually progress to manual hand mixing tools, and when your child is ready, you can introduce electric mixers, but be sure to go over mixer safety.
Startcooking.com recommends cooking with children when there are no time limits. You want to teach them how to perform tasks when you have the time and patience to do it effectively. Cooking should be a positive experience that encourages children to help and to be encouraged to try again later when they don’t succeed on the first attempt.
More Than Basic Skills
Kids can learn so much from helping out in the kitchen. It teaches them skills that will help them with their school work and gives them an appreciation of the work that goes into cooking their meals. They will learn responsibility and respect, as well as how to make healthy decisions and to try new things.