I’ll be the first to admit, I’m just an average cook! I do want my children to feel at home in the kitchen though, and I try to take time to teach them and include them in the cooking process!
Here are some simple tips for cooking with your preschoolers!
1) Prepare to cook.
Before you begin, it doesn’t hurt to remind your child of some basic safety tips. Talk about staying away from the stove, handling silverware appropriately, staying away from knives, listening to mom, etc.
Before you make a recipe, make sure hands are washed (you may also want to pull back hair)! Enlist your child’s help in finding the necessary ingredients and supplies. Also, consider buying a sturdy stepstool for the kitchen. It’s a wonderful way to involve your child (and somewhat safer than standing on a chair)!
2) Include them in age-appropriate tasks.
I know, I know…you’re thinking to yourself “But it’s just easier to do it myself”. I’ll admit, I’ve had that thought more than once — but starting your little ones in the kitchen at an early age builds confidence…and skill! It’s an amazing opportunity for “hands-on” learning. (Now, you’re not just going to turn your child loose and see what happens — well, you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it!!)
The very first thing to do is model. For example, show your child how to wash a piece of fruit. Then, train them. Give them the fruit and help them. After they’ve done it several times, you can step back and watch!
In general, I think children can do many more chores and activities in the kitchen then we think! For example, when my daughters were two they began to help me unload the dishwasher and sort the utensils. Again, it comes back to modeling and training (and supervising well)!
With help, two and three year olds can:
- Wipe the table
- Scrub fruits and vegetables
- Stir dry mixtures
- Stir wet mixtures
- Dump ingredients in the bowl
- Cut out biscuits and use cookie cutters
- Fold napkins
- Help set the table
- Peel carrots
- Unload the dishwasher
- Put trash in the trash can
With help, four and five year olds can:
- Do all of the above and…
- Measure ingredients
- Peel potatoes
- Knead dough
- Spread butter or peanut butter on bread
- Pour liquid from a container with a lid (a small pitcher is a great training tool)
- Scrape dishes and clear the table
- Sweep the floor
- Sort recyclables
Again, these tasks require help and supervision, but you will be amazed at what your child can do if given the opportunity!
3) Keep it fun!
Your attitude is key when cooking with your kids! It’s easy to lose your patience, because there will be messes. It will take much longer than if you just did it yourself (make sure you allow more time than you think you’ll need)!! Give plenty of praise as they are learning and acquiring cooking skills!
I’ve found that a special apron is motivating and fun for my girls. Also, we often turn on one of our classical (calm) music CDs just for “kitchen time”! Step-by-step cookbooks for kids can be helpful, too!
Our favorite recipes
- Stone Soup
- Easy as Apple Pie Snack
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Ice Cream in a Can
- Caterpillar Pizza
- Snack Bag Butterflies
- Crockpot Yogurt
It isn’t hard to include your children in the kitchen, but it does require being intentional and making time for it.
Besides, once they’ve become proficient in the kitchen, they’ll soon be making you breakfast in bed…well, I can dream, can’t I?!!
What are your tips for cooking? Do you have any recipes we should try?!!