5 ways to give your kids cooking skills: how to teach children how to cook
Teach your kids how to prepare their own meals with these helpful guidelines
For plenty of parents, the kitchen is a sacred place that they’re hesitant to relinquish control of. Just the thought of having kids puttering about the place, wielding sharp knives and working with open flames, is enough to send a shudder down their spines.
However, parents must remember that it is their responsibility to teach their kids important life skills, and teaching them how to feed themselves definitely falls under that umbrella. So why not start them young? When they’re older and cooking delicious meals for you, you’ll be thankful for it.
Here’s how to get your kids started in the kitchen—you can get them started as early as 2! This guide is separated by age groups, but really, it’s up to you to gauge what your child is ready for. Some kids are more focused than others, so remember not to rush things and know when you should trust them and let go.
1. Get them comfortable with the kitchen. (2-3 years old)
With your younger kids, you’ll need to supervise them extra close. Just to get them acquainted with the kitchen, can give them small tasks like setting the table (with non-breakable plates), gentle stirring, squeezing lemons, and so forth.
2. Start small. (4-5 years old)
By this age they should be able to prepare simple meals, like making their own cereal or putting together a simple sandwich. Teach them how to pour milk from the carton or juice from the pitcher (after ensuring that it’s not too heavy, of course). If spills happen, it’s alright, that happens. Let them help with the clean-up too.
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3. Build skills up gradually. (6-7 years old)
At this stage, their fine motor skills should be quite developed, so you can teach your kids how to safely use a knife. You can start with softer foods like bananas and avocados then work your way up to potatoes, onions, and cucumbers. You can also ask them to help you peel potatoes with a peeler, decorate and plate dishes, and grate cheese.
4. Emphasize safety. (8-9 years old)
When you think your kids are ready to start working at the stove, be sure to supervise them closely, and teach them about all the hazards. If you feel that they’re not quite ready, you can start with working with a toaster oven. Older kids can also help you out in the kitchen by reading recipes as you prepare your meals.
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5. Let go. (10-12 years old)
Once your child has learned basic kitchen skills and are confident with their capabilities, you can let them prepare meals on their own. Encourage them by letting them choose the meals they want to prepare, but ask them to prepare healthy and practical meals as well. You can supervise from a distance, so you can remind them about certain rules, like washing their hands after handling chicken.
**Remember: relax and keep things light.**
Yes, the kitchen is full of potential dangers. Sharp tools! Hot stoves! How on earth can anyone relax? Stay alert and supervise them closely, but don’t make them feel anxious or they’ll get discouraged. It’s best not to teach them when you’re in a rush to get a meal on the table, so opt for weekends or when you have a lot of time on your hands, so you’re more relaxed. If you don’t feel like you’re in a “teaching” mood, it’s best to wait until you are, and avoid hurting any feelings. Don’t forget to smile!
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