Teaching our children to cook is a bonding moment that we have fond memories of from our own childhood. Whether it's with our mom, grandma, or even dad, it's something that we associate with happiness and a good childhood.
If you have the same sentiment, then let's work towards making the same memories for our sons and daughters. Not to worry, we will share 10 very safe and very easy things parents can do to help their kids to feel comfortable helping out in the kitchen.
This is the first thing that we should be sure about; that our kitchen is as safe as we think it is for kids to be around. Think baby-proofing, but that baby got older and they want to make the kitchen their playground. Secure appliances and sharp objects like knives and skewers; invest in kid-friendly knives that actually cut if need be.
Put away glass and breakable cups, bowls, and other cooking utensils and replace them with plastic or shatterproof ones. A lot could go on in the kitchen, especially when we are cooking and we have one or two of these eager novices tagging along.
We can get our kids excited about helping out in the kitchen, if they aren't already, in three easy ways. First, we'll have to spend some money, but it's really worth it. The other two ways are to use our encouragement and their curiosity.
Let's buy them a nice apron and a chef’s hat; they'll surely be excited to put them on and help out in the kitchen. Get them interested by telling them about the food they are eating, the ingredients that were put into it, and how we made it taste that way, or how we made it sticky or taste sweet.
Setting rules in the kitchen is like laying out rules for the games that our kids play all the time. If we set expectations, then they will be safe in there, provided we took care of child-proofing the kitchen. We tell them how this activity is going to go, what they can do, and what they are definitely not allowed to do.
We present them the objective and the steps needed to reach that objective, in a way the kids will absorb and understand. Now that they know the rules of the game, they're ready to play.
Setting expectations and rules in the kitchen goes well when paired with a corresponding tour of the place. Show them where everything is and name them, they might not know that it's the sink, a sponge, or a chopping board. Tell them what we do there, give them a very detailed description of what an area is and what it's for.
They should learn that everything in the kitchen has its purpose. This will keep them organized and let them feel they're in control, thus making them feel like they are part of the kitchen.
It's best we prepare food that would be enjoyed by our kids when they eat. It would help if the food has a theme, like a colorful dish, or a cartoon-based cupcake or pastry. It would also help with the excitement if we can show them a picture of the finished product. This will get them excited and wanting to see how the dish will turn out.
Of course, it's always easy for them if they can relate to an activity they're doing. Imagine how happy they'd be if their mom prepared a recipe for a cake with their favorite character on it!
Learning is not limited to just cooking when we're in the kitchen with our kids. For younger children, we can teach them colors and shapes by using fruits and vegetables. For the older kids, we can have them read the recipe for us.
They can also learn math while cooking. If the recipe asks for 3 cloves of garlic and 2 teaspoons of sugar, let them take care of it! There's some science in cooking, too. You can discuss with them the different states of matter with water, steam, and ice.
Now that we got our kids to be interested in the kitchen, it's time to teach them some cooking basics. Let's teach them first about cleanliness and how to achieve it. Fruits and vegetables may look okay and not dirty, but we always wash them.
Just running water from the sink is enough, rinse and set aside. Let's also teach them that onion can make them cry, so tell them to steer clear when it's being cut.
Do not get too excited for the kids and remember to pace it, especially when it comes to the actual tasks they can do in the kitchen. Let's start them off with the easiest ones, like getting the things we need for preparation. Have them get the bowls, measuring cups, and the other ingredients that they can handle and are familiar with.
Maybe at first, have them checking the recipe book for us, or they can taste if it's sweet or salty. As they feel more comfortable in the kitchen, we can teach them new skills, like measuring the salt, sugar, and flour, and whisking eggs.
As we teach them things in the kitchen, they will have a lot of questions. This is a learning experience for them, we should be prepared for questions as we teach them. Explain right away and be patient with their questions: this is a brand new thing for them, they will have more than 20 questions for sure.
But if they're quiet, we should urge them to ask questions to arouse their curiosity. Simple things like, "are you having fun?" or "do you think that's enough water?"
Every chef knows that a clean kitchen is a healthy and happy kitchen. So, let's teach our kids the habit of cleaning up after or better yet while cooking. We can teach the easier things at first, like wiping the table clean or putting all utensils in the sink. When they get to cook with you more and more, we can share with them our tricks to effective cleaning.
What to wash first and how to wash it, how to get off sticky stuff easier and all those other tips we learned from our own parents and grandparents. A kitchen is really a reliable place to make that special bond with our kids.