Monday, October 31, 2011

Cooking With Children

Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: preschools that balance fun and focus into early childhood education by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

The redolent smells and sizzling pans can make a kitchen a place of wonder for a small child, but also a place of potential danger. Yet these hazards do not have to preclude you from having children in the kitchen. Quite the contrary in fact, as cooking together can be an excellent way for families to spend time together. 

With a little caution and care the kitchen can be the most popular area in the house. Furthermore, having them help with the cooking can foster a sense of responsibility and pride in the contents of the meal.

The kitchen can be both safe and fun if you follow a few simple rules:

Interact with your child in a meaningful way
Contemplate what tasks your child is capable of performing without your oversight. Even the most simple tasks such as measuring water or mixing batter can boost a child's confidence. As they demonstrate competency in various tasks, you can have them gradually take on more responsibility. Be sure to keep them engaged during the entire process, either through music or conversation.

Set ground rules 
It goes without saying that children need supervision when in the kitchen. This is not only due to the presence of visibly dangerous objects such as knives and stovetops, but the invisible threat of bacteria and germs. Children should be taught to wash their hands before and after handling food, particularly with meat and poultry. Parents should quiz their children on what objects are hot and be sure children are aware of the various risks inside a kitchen. 

Incremental learning 
In addition to rudimentary tasks, a child can learn many complex skills in the kitchen. However, many of these skills require incremental learning in order to properly develop. For example, when learning to use a knife, it is best for children to start off with softer items such as cheese or butter so that they can develop the coordination and motor skills necessary to cut safely. As your child develops better hand eye coordination, they could move on to tougher items such as vegetables or fruit, preferably using a plastic knife. 

Keep things light 
Children are going to make mistakes. They will find new and creative ways to spill food. The onus is on you the parent to correct the behavior without laboring them with undue stress. One way is to provide gentle guidance and have the child repeat the task until they are successful. Compliment them when they do a good job, and do your best to keep things light and playful while still adhering to the ground rules. Finally, when the meal is finished, let them have the first taste.

Are you ready to cook with your children?

Visit the Primrose School website to learn more about their Preschool Programs. 


  1. Terrific post. I am all for kids being a part of kitchen cooking projects. You experience so many teachable moments when kids are assisting in the kitchen. Oh and most importantly you have fun together. Special things happen in the kitchen.

  2. Great post. I actually just did this with my Lady C this weekend. Got stuck home from the snow storm and we baked a cake! Nice way to teach coordination, measurements etc. I will be checking out Primrose... I need to do preschool research!

  3. It's so much fun cooking with Chase - he enjoys it so much, and so bonding for the both of us!

  4. that is so fun to cook with the kiddies..these are great rules! will pass it on to my bff!

  5. I love to cook with the boys, have to make it a point to cook more healthy stuff, not just brownies! LOL! Great post! Thanks for the reminder!

  6. My daughter loves to help cook! She is so good at it too. She knows the dangers of the stove-top and knives. She is learning to be a help around the house which makes me feel good. Plus, It's better than having her zone out in front of the tv

  7. What great ground rules for cooking with kids. We get together and cook with our girls because we feel that it is SO important for children to be in the kitchen. I agree that kids are going to make mistakes! We are REALLY good at smiling and eating anything they serve us (that is edible!) Here is one of our recent cooking posts

  8. @LovingMama -- thanks for the link!


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