Family and Consumer Sciences
Cooking with kids during the holidays Around the holidays, people tend to spend more time in the kitchen making seasonal baked goods or preparing large meals to feed the family. With children out of school and families gathered together, it is an excellent opportunity to get children involved in the kitchen. Not only is it a learning experience for the child, it is also a bonding experience for the family.
There are many benefits of getting kids involved in the kitchen. Immediately, kids develop confidence because they are contributing positively to the family and they are more likely to try a new food they helped prepare. Allowing kids to help in the kitchen develops their cooking skills which could carry into adulthood and may lead to healthier eating styles long term. Finally, kids are able to spend quality time with family members which we know is beneficial for their development.
Below are suggested tasks and activities for getting kids involved in the kitchen. All children develop at different rates, so make sure responsibilities are appropriate for your child regardless of the age.
Two-to-five year old: tasks that don’t have to be precise; tearing up lettuce or herbs; washing produce in the sink; sprinkling ingredients; stirring; mashing; finding ingredients for a recipe; pressing on and off buttons
Six-to-nine-year-old: more advanced tasks; measuring dry ingredients; pouring ingredients into batter; using table knife to cut soft fruits and vegetables; grating ingredients; using pizza cutters or can openers; setting timers 10+-year-old: more advanced and independent activities; stirring ingredients at the stove; using sharper knives; working with electric kitchen appliances; learning basic cooking concepts like how to boil water and microwave foods; following recipes
As the supervisor in the kitchen, it is important to be patient with children when they are learning a new skill. It may take some practice before it is done just right. Always supervise and do not leave children unattended, especially if a task could be dangerous like using kitchen utensils or hot surfaces.
Finally, don’t forget about food safety in the kitchen. It is important to show proper kitchen hygiene by washing hands, the proper handling of utensils, and taking care of the kitchen by cleaning up spills and messes. This keeps everyone safe and makes the food taste better.