Little children love to be involved in whatever Mama and Daddy are doing. That includes being in the kitchen, and possibly getting in the way, while meals are being prepared. Even though they may not know what they’re doing, there are easy cooking projects for little hands to do while you’re cooking.
Before you think about teaching your child to cook at all, remember to teach them safety rules for the kitchen. It’s important that they know what tools they can use without help, and which ones require a parent or older child’s help. You also want to remind children that whenever they are going to prepare food they must wash their hands with soap and water first.
Begin by deciding upon what you’ll make together. Gather everything you need – all of the ingredients, spoons, cups, bowls, or whatever else is required – and have enough for both of you to work. Have everything ready so you can begin work as soon as you’ve both washed your hands.
Most likely your little one won’t be able to reach the cabinet or table that you’re working at, so you can create a working area on a child-size table. Put a tablecloth or newspapers down to help to make cleaning up easier.
Explain what you’re going to do for the entire recipe before you give them the first ingredient. Then you demonstrate how to measure liquid and solid ingredients, stir, beat, peel, or whatever the task is. Demonstrating what to do will help children who are visual rather than auditory in their learning. When they are actually able to do the task, this will help solidify their learning.
Here are some things that children can do to help you in the kitchen while you’re preparing a meal:
* Teach them to slice bananas with a plastic knife. This will enable them to learn the process of cutting without worrying about them being hurt. If you leave the peel on the banana, it will be more difficult to cut.
* Allow them to tear the lettuce for salads. They may also be able to pull apart broccoli and cauliflower florets.
* Children love cookies, so when you teach them to roll cookie dough, don’t be surprised if they help themselves to some of it! Speaking of cookies, they can also cut out the cookie dough with cookie cutters and place them on the cookie sheets. Be sure they know to leave some space between the cookies so the cookies don’t run together.
One cooking project you’ll definitely want to teach your child is the importance of cleaning up while you’re cooking. Instead of leaving everything until you’re finished, have them put dirty dishes into a sink of hot, soapy water. You can also teach them to put their ingredients away and wash off the surface they were using while cooking.
It’s important to teach children to cook and you can find easy cooking projects for little hands to do. Remember that they want to be with you and to learn from you. Take advantage of this desire while they’re young, they’ll likely outgrow their willingness to help soon enough.