It is always an exciting (and sometimes messy!) day when you bring your kids into the kitchen to teach them how to cook! Here are some simple tips for teaching your kids the basics and for giving the skills that will last the a lifetime.
Safety First. This HAS to be covered first. If a child has to stand on a stool or chair to reach the stove, then they are too young to be cooking. If you are cooking with younger children, keep them to the table with simple tasks like mixing and pouring ingredients. If they are older and can reach, make sure they know how to tell if the stove is on or hot. Another thing to teach them about is the safe handling of knives, hot pans, and boiling ingredients. Some safety things may seem basic and common sense, but kids are new to it! Don’t hesitate on educating them on safety.
Be relaxed. Messes are going to happen and dishes might get broken. Try not to teach with special dishes or family heirlooms so that that added stress isn’t there. Learning to cook should be fun for both parties, not a drudgery.
Start with the basics. Show your kids what the different utensils are used for and how to properly use them. Teach about herbs and spices and how to use the right ingredients for the dishes you are cooking. Something you may not think about are the way that fractions and chemistry come into play while cooking, your kids may not even realize that they are learning while having fun.
Start simple. Don’t throw a recipe at them that took you years to learn! Pick up a kids cook book and pick out a good recipe to try. Most of these have step-by-step instructions that may even have pictures to guide you along.
Let your kids shine. As they progress in their skills, let them pick out more complicated recipes. Give them complete reign by planning, shopping for ingredients, and cooking the recipe themselves! This will help them realize and appreciate the effort that goes into planning a meal.
Build on it. As your child becomes more skilled, let them start to include foods from different cultures! But be warned, this may plant the seed of adventure and you might need a trip to France or Italy sooner than you thought.
If your child really takes to cooking, it would be a great gift to get your child their own tools that are their size. Many department and specialty stores carry these and will really foster a love for cooking in your children.
Take pictures! You may not see it now, but you are making a special memory. Think about how special that will be when they are graduating from culinary school and see the picture from the day it all began!