Kids in the kitchen, it’s not for everyone – but it’s something I’m not opposed to at all. If you show your kids how to do things in the kitchen, not only does it give them skills that they can’t get in any classroom – not even high school in my opinion, but it gives them a massive sense of achievement and encourages them to taste, enjoy and be proud of what they have created.
In essence, it’s like a science lesson, maths lesson, food prep’, food hygiene, safety tips, an art lesson, language & communication skills, self confidence & social skills, a knowledge of their surroundings & the world they live in and an insight into nutrition all rolled into one. That’s all of the Early Years Foundation Skills and even the Curriculum in KS1 all covered!
When I used to work as a volunteer at a nursery K’Boo used to go to (so yes, I’ve done the courses) I remember one particular session that sticks in my mind: cutting and preparing fruit. Why does it stick? Because the owner couldn’t wait to tell me that her husband was a bit disapointed I’d shown the children how to use a knife (carefully). How carefully? Well apparantley his daughter had said “Daddy, I CAN do it, look – I put my hand on the top of the knife and press, like this – not underneath, never!” So you see, kids are much more capable than we think and if we don’t teach them – they will never learn to take care of themselves. I’m not suggesting you start leaving knives around the house or let them cook a 3 course meal. But, I do think that we should involve our kids in the kitchen much more these days. They see too much crap served up to them by the time they start school and they have seen enough in supermarkets to give them a convenience food headache!
So I let my kids come into my kitchen. That’s H’Boo at almost 12 years (who’s experiences of food tech’ at school are only once a week, so cooking at home is definitely needed) and K’Boo at 4 years (who can’t wait to help out and now brings the toilet step she no longer uses in the loo) to reach up and see the kitchen worktops.
About those worktops. Make sure that they are clean and tell them why they need to be. Along with the utensils you use and wash as you go (or involve them in cleaning later), kids need to know all about hygiene and the importance of it. Toilet trips while preparing and cooking need to have hand washing tips added in – those horrid little germs will run down their arms and start to eat the yummy food and grow 😮
Teach them that the kitchen is only a safe place if they listen and do things carefully. Hobs, ovens and grills are for big people only – until Mummy/Daddy can show them how to use them properly. But that you will let them stir things, slowly, when you are right there behind them and when you have made it safe to do so: that’s pan handles turned away, heat turned low (to avoid the dry heat harming them) and slow stirring to avoid hot splashes.
Chopping boards come in 2 types, one for fruit & veg and cooked meats – one for raw meat only. They are allowed to chop fruit and veg, but need first to watch you and always to have one hand on the knife handle and one hand flat (fingers straight out) on the top of the knife – then press downwards till the knife meets the board. This might all sound a bit OTT, but fingers on boards can get cut and fingers curled under get caught out too! It would help if you made the fruit and veg a stable shape on the board before you start with younger children.
Children love to crack eggs! It’s a marvel that most kids aspire to do when they see Mum/Dad in the kitchen cracking eggs on the side of the bowl and this lovely yellowy liquid magically come flowing out. It’s a skill they want to perfect too. So let them try – don’t worry about the mess – give them a bigger bowl to do it in.
surprise when they see that creamy liquid go into the oven and a short time later come out as a springy, slightly darker coloured cake (there’s the science). Let them spread on the filling and decorate with you (now you’ve covered art).
A different texture and loads of fun for kids to get their hands into (and they will) is cookie dough (biscuit dough if you are going to be very British). They can watch the mixture build up and take form, choose and add the extra ingredients (great maths skills) and then shape with their hands and/or cutters (more maths). Choosing the extra bits means choosing flavours too and it’s allowing them to do this that teaches them good social skills and builds their confidence. Then there’s the decorating: shortbread cookies can be iced and all kinds of colourful bits added or if they added ingredients to drop cookies then they have already helped make the different patterns and interesting textures (there’s another art lesson).
Let them touch and explore, as what they help to create changes form. Let them taste and ask ‘them’ questions for a change! What do you see? how does it feel? What does it taste like? How much/many have we put in?
Use as many different colours, textures and tastes to get your children more interested in what is going on in the kitchen and watch their appetite and skills improve rapidly.
Furthermore, I’m a big believer that the way our kids are taught in school, is under much more pressure than at home. There are less time constraints at home – although things take time to do. There is less peer pressure to perform, although they still want to do their best. ‘One on one’ teaching is something your child is not going to get anywhere else (unless you pay for it) and so take advantage of the time that you do have your kids at home with you from a pre-school age – if you are spending this time with them early on, they are ‘more likely’ to continue to ask you questions about what they are learning in school later – make time for the ‘one on one’ then also!
Give your kids the best start to an education – kitchen skills and cooking are an education for life and will help them become more capable and healthy young adults,as wel as giving them the best foundation skills that they need for everything that they will learn throughtout life.
This is ‘quality time-out’ with your kids and a whole lot of fun to be had while you do it – together!
HAPPY COOKING, BAKING, PREPARING, MAKING – remember to pop by HoniesKitchen to see what K’Boo or H’Boo are cooking.