There are so many wonderful reasons why you should get your children to help out in the kitchen, if they aren’t already. Cooking is a valuable life skill and the earlier they start to learn how to cook the more confident they will be in the kitchen in the future. Exposure at a young age can promote a love for cooking as they grow older. Cooking exposes kids to a wide variety of ingredients and encourages an adventurous palate. Cooking together can also be valuable quality time family time.
Although the kitchen is full of dangerous things like hot ovens, sharp knives, and open gas flames, there are plenty of other ways kids can get involved. It’s important to set rules about what they can and can’t touch and choose age appropriate tasks. Very young kids can wash fruits and veggies, pick herbs from the garden if you have one, and pour and mix ingredients in a bowl. As they get older they can move onto more complex tasks: grating cheese, cracking eggs, kneading dough, measuring ingredients, setting the table and chopping things that only require a blunt knife. And finally when they’re old enough they can chop with sharp knives, take things in and out of the oven and even cook whole meals on their own with confidence.
Cooking can develop other skills apart from practical ones. Following recipes involves reading and comprehension. They will probably pick up on new vocabulary they’ve never heard before, like cooking verbs and ingredients. Cooking and baking requires some maths skills like counting, using fractions, and converting between cups and millilitres – they may not even realize they’re doing maths!
It’s also important to be patient and encouraging. Remember, messes can easily be cleaned so don’t worry if they spill or drop things. And there’s no need to be a perfectionist – cooking together should be fun, they’re not on an episode of Junior Masterchef after all!