Happy Thanksgiving! Is your family getting ready for the big meal and you have a little helper?
We’ve talked before about why cooking with your kids is a great idea. Cooking with your kids fosters great learning and life skills – from health and nutrition, hygiene and safety, expanding their horizons and tastes, to foundations in reading, math, science, chemistry, vocabulary, and more. Plus it’s great quality time with you, which both the kids and the parents want and enjoy!
Now let’s look at a few more specifics for getting your little one into the kitchen with you.
Many people underestimate what kids can do to help with cooking for the family. Here’s a few ideas and examples for how you can bring the different age groups into the kitchen and the world of cooking with you:
0-2 Years Old
These little ones are taking it all in – so just have them in there with you. Set them up in a highchair or bouncer out of your way but close enough to see the action, and let them just watch or play, and be present.
Things you can do:
• Give them some spatulas, wooden spoons, funny strainers, bowls, whisks, etc., to play around and become acquainted with
• As you cook, talk to them about what you’re using and doing
• Give them samples
• Have them smell and touch ingredients and utensils that you’re using
• Show them that cooking and the kitchen is an interesting place that they can watch and experience too
2-3 Years Old
Depending on their individual dexterity, young kids can start helping with basic tasks (with instruction and supervision!).
They can do things such as:
• Pour ingredients into a bowl (things like chopped veggies and fruits etc. are good starters to see how they do…powders and liquids are at your own discretion – and risk!)
• Stir batter
• Tear up lettuce
• Rinse and scrub potatoes, vegetables, fruits
• Pick herbs or vegetables off the stem
• Mash veggies or potatoes
3-5 Years Old
These kids can advance their kitchen help to finer skills.
Kids aged 3-5 can do such things as:
• Measure ingredients
• Pour/add ingredients
• Stir and mix
• Sprinkling ingredients
• Cut items (with a plastic or butter knife)
• Spreading (i.e. butter or grease in a pan)
• Tear packages and packaging open (but show them how they can do it without it exploding EVERYWHERE! Then it will (maybe?) only happen *some* of the time)
There is plenty for your little helper to do!
When sharing the kitchen with your little one, do remember that your little “helper’s” involvement may mean things may not come out “perfectly”, or may (probably…certainly) just get downright messy and chaotic. Both preparing the food and cleaning up after will take longer than if you’d done it on your own (but hey, they can learn to help with clean-up too!). But it’s worth it, for the lessons they’re getting to learn, and the experience and memories you’re getting to make with them.
So when it inevitably gets frustrating or disastrous, just keep in mind – what’s more important to you overall? Taking the opportunity for these moments with your kids, teaching them new things in so many different subjects – or having a spotless kitchen or “perfect” dinner served right on time?
Go have fun making a mess in the kitchen together!