Do you remember when you first learned how to prepare food or help in the kitchen?
Allowing your child to help in the kitchen has a number of benefits:
1. It can develop their motor skills
2. It can encourage patience and teamwork
3. It can improve confidence and develop their literacy and numeracy skills from reading recipes to and measuring ingredients
The kitchen can be an exciting place for children with so many sights, smells and sounds – so why not get started!
People often ask when a child should start to cook. There is no exact age for starting but generally children should be encouraged to become involved with basic food preparation skills as soon as they show an interest.
Make sure to have a Kitchen Step Stool safely positioned so that the child can reach the unit or counter where the food is being prepared.
Here are some guidelines to help you and your child get started:
• 3 year olds can help by…
putting bun cases in a tray (helps develop motor skills); using child friendly biscuit cutters; adding small ingredients (e.g. dried fruit) to the mix etc.
• 4 - 5 year olds can help by…
whisking eggs; stirring liquid ingredients; adding dry ingredients; sifting flour; rolling cookie dough etc.
• 6 - 8 year olds can help by…
measuring ingredients; spooning the mix into cases; kneading dough; arranging toppings on e.g. pizza / sandwich; preparing fruit for a Smoothie; preparing small snacks etc.
• 9 – 11 year olds can help by…
preparing baked products under supervision; chopping fruit and vegetables; preparing dough; making fruity muffins; mashing potatoes; preparing pasta dishes; making pizza (allow them to name the pizza e.g. Paul’s Pizza!); using food preparation equipment under supervision etc.
Try and encourage your child to practice safe and hygienic food preparation from an early age. I find if you reinforce kitchen safety to children of all ages and encourage them to practice good habits, like hand washing from the start.
Most of all, enjoy and have fun with kids in the kitchen. There will be spills and foods dropped but that’s part of the experience for kids. Over time, the skills learned and fun had will foster a healthy interest in food and leave you all with lasting memories, like me, of the fun times shared in the kitchen …
So go on, what are you waiting for?!