Check out this informative guest post on tips to teach your child to cook by Danny Nguyen from My Parenting Journal.
Children can lend a helping hand in the kitchen when taught how to prepare and cook meals at an early age. Cooking is arguably one of the best and most beneficial life skills that you can teach your child. While young children are overly interested in learning how to cook, it is necessary for you as the parent to be cautious when you have your kids in the kitchen with you.
Ideally, when you are teaching your child how to cook, it is important that you put in place the necessary safety measures that will ensure that it is safe to have the child with you in the kitchen. It is worth noting that cooking provides an outlet for creativity. What is more beneficial about cooking is that it also encourages healthy eating. Here are some great tips for you when teaching your child how to cook.
Teach safety and hygiene
Even before you teach your child how to prepare and cook meals, it is important that you first teach him/her the need for safety and hygiene in the kitchen. These are crucial skills that your child needs to possess besides having practical cooking skills. Safety and hygiene skills are critical in preventing burns or food poisoning when in the kitchen.
You should show your child how to wash his/her hands before touching any food such as raw meat with bare hands. Additionally, you should teach them the importance and need of preparing food on clean surfaces to avoid contamination of food. You should make kitchen rules that your child needs to observe at all times they are in the kitchen. Also, you should teach your child to focus on one task at a time and avoid multi-tasking.
Plan for cooking lessons
You should set a particular time during which you will use to teach your child how to cook. Preferably, you should reserve cooking lessons for weekends or other times when you are not busy. The best thing about planning for these lessons is that you set this time aside to teach him/her to cook and not for any other activity thereof. This allows you to provide detailed cooking lessons to your child so that it becomes easy for them to understand how cooking needs to be done.
If you lead an excessively busy lifestyle, you should spare some time in your schedule to cook alongside your child. This enables children to learn and watch how cooking should be done right from the initial preparation stages up to the final cooking. Weekends, public holidays and school vacations are the best time to teach your child how to cook.
Use common utensils
When teaching your child how to cook, it is possible to use common utensils; those that are regularly used in the kitchen. There is no virtually no need of buying children’s utensils as long as your child can understand how to use regular utensils as this can reduce the expense.
You should not let your child use knives, forks, and other sharp utensils until you have shown them how these utensils should be handled and used. This allows for added safety in the kitchen.
Teach age appropriate cooking tasks
The age of your child should guide you when you are offering cooking lessons to him/her. Age appropriateness refers to maturity, strength, coordination, and interests. For instance, a simple task such as peeling carrots requires more than coordination as it requires greater strength than other common kitchen tasks like washing utensils.
The initial tasks that you should give your child in the kitchen include stirring, mashing, rolling, washing, spooning and kneading among other simple tasks. These simple tasks prepare the child for other complex tasks in the kitchen like cutting hard foods, breading, grating, peeling, measuring and whisking among other tasks. When your child masters simple cooking skills perfectly, you can then progress to teaching him/her advanced cooking skills.
Allow your child to choose preferred recipes
Letting your child choose the recipe that they want to prepare makes them feel that they have control of what they are cooking. In addition to this, it also makes them feel that their effort is appreciated and that they are making important contributions in the family. It is advisable to offer several child-friendly recipes for your child to choose from. Typically, the recipes that you provide to your child should be simple to understand and require reasonable skill and expertise to prepare.
If possible, you can let your child choose common recipes that you prepare in the house on a regular basis. These recipes are easy to comprehend as they (children) are used to seeing you prepare the recipes. When your child is learning how to cook, you should give him/her the important tasks so that he/she feels in control of the food they are preparing.
The ultimate goal when teaching your child how to cook is to ensure that you boost the self-esteem and confidence of the child by encouraging him/her to believe in their cooking abilities. Your child may not show much cooking prowess at first, but with time, their cooking skills are bound to improve and they become great cooks.
At the end of any cooking lesson, you should aim at having a happy child who is happy to have learned a new cooking skill or have polished their cooking skills. As the parent, you need to ensure that you enjoy these cooking lessons not only to make them lively but also worthwhile. You should teach your child the importance of watching and learning what you are doing in the kitchen.
This post is contributed by Danny from My Parenting Journal blog, a site where parents can find the best parenting tips, practices, advice, and resources.