There are times when you want your little ones to chip in and help, and other times when their offer of assistance can be more of a hassle than a help. When it comes to cooking, there are so many dangers in the kitchen that it can sometimes be difficult to have your little ones help.
Fortunately, there are ways to include your kids in the cooking process without jeopardizing their safety. These tips for cooking with kids will keep everyone safe and having fun while teaching your kids to be independent and helping them to develop higher learning skills.
1. First, make their kitchen come alive
Before you hit the big leagues and let your child into your kitchen area, educate them in their play kitchen. Explain how all the kitchen appliances work and the dangers that can accompany using the real versions in a calm and friendly way. You don’t want to scare your kids away from the kitchen forever, but just ensure that they’ll practice proper precautions when it’s time for the real deal.
2. Follow a recipe
Teaching them how to follow a recipe isn’t just critical for cooking – it also develops their ability to follow instructions with precision (pdf). Allow them to do the measuring, add the ingredients according to the recipe, and emphasize that the key to cooking is learning to do things in an organized manner. Learning how to follow guidelines will have benefits that extend beyond the kitchen.
3. Do the dangerous stuff ahead of time
The hardest part about cooking with children is that they have very little patience and want to do everything. If you plan a time to cook together and have the dangerous stuff done ahead of time, it will be much more productive and enjoyable for everyone. If what your cooking involves cutting, grating, or peeling, have the ingredients ready so that they won’t sit around waiting or whining because they aren’t able to help.
4. Teach them about what to do if a fire starts
One of the most important tips for cooking with kids is to teach them the importance of fire safety. Based on their age, give them the basics about how to stop a fire on the stove, or when to call for help, where the extinguisher is located, how grease and water are a recipe for disaster, and why you should never reach your hands in a toaster. One of the biggest hazards in any kitchen is the potential for a fire to start. Give them the knowledge of how to prevent a fire from happening in the first place.
5. Choose foods that are fun
Make cooking more about fun than a chore. Choose kid-friendly recipes that allow them to assemble the ingredients and use their imagination. If you choose foods that are naturally colorful and nutritious, your kids will love to craft rainbow food creations. If they are allowed to create healthy and lively meals on their own, they are more apt to try them instead of turning their nose up at the food.
Cooking can be a great way to teach children higher learning skills, but the kitchen isn’t always the safest place to play. If you teach kids about kitchen dangers and allow them to have a lot of engagement, cooking together can be both entertaining and informative for a growing mind. Check out all of Step2’s great kitchen products to help kids develop a love for cooking.