Involving Your Kids In The Kitchen

Cooking together gives you a chance to bond, and teaches your child valuable life skills.

Cooking is a big part of life, so it’s important that kids are introduced to working in the kitchen early on. When you involve kids in the cooking process, you help build their motor skills, you give them opportunities to learn about math, reading and science, and you lay the foundation for a happy, healthy life as adults. Make cooking a part of your children’s lives from the beginning. Here are a few ways you can involve your kids in the kitchen:

Don’t get stir-crazy

Often, the only task parents are comfortable handing over to their children is stirring. This is a great job for kids, and it’s not that you shouldn’t let them do it – however, there are plenty of other cooking duties of which a child is perfectly capable. For example, toddlers are great at pouring dry ingredients into bowls: Hand them a measured cup, and let them go to work! Preschoolers who are just learning to count are great aides when it comes to filling out recipes: “We need three potatoes; that’s one, two, three potatoes.” School-aged children can help rinse produce, measure ingredients and even come up with their own recipe ideas.

Your kids might come up with your new favorite recipe!
Your kids might come up with your new favorite recipe!

Read recipes together

Pick up some age-appropriate cookbooks, and use dinnertime as an opportunity to improve your child’s reading level. Not only will this give your child valuable practice, it will also help teach him or her how to follow a recipe. Culinary knowledge all comes from reading and trying recipes, so this is a sure way to build kids’ enthusiasm for cooking.

Let them lead

If your child has a strong interest in and enthusiasm for cooking, let him or her lead the process once in a while. Once you’ve made the same few dishes together a number of times, your child will probably have a good idea of the process. Giving him or her the chance to play head chef and guide you in the kitchen will help build both cooking and leadership skills. There will still be steps you need to do on your own, for safety’s sake, but letting your child give you instructions is a valuable kind of play.

Accept the mess and clean together

A messy kitchen is a sure side effect of cooking with your kids, but remember that it’s all worth it. When you cook with children, you’re giving them a valuable life skill that they’ll use their whole life long. A mess might make you a bit anxious, but it actually provides an additional learning opportunity. Teach your children how to help tidy up after cleaning, and they’re more likely to keep that habit as they grow. Younger children can help bring dishes to the sink, or give the counter a finishing wipe. Older children can help dry or even wash dishes, or use a broom and dustpan to sweep up the floor. When kids think of cleaning up as a natural part of cooking, the odds are better they’ll have a clean kitchen as adults.