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Teaching Kids to Cook: 6 Tips to Get Them Started

Teaching Kids to Cook

After four years of cooking with my kids I love sharing tips with parents who want to bring their little ones into the kitchen. For us, the cooking began with my oldest son who was curious about what I was making and how it was made. He has always been a tactile learner. My daughter, the creative thinker in my bunch, loves creating recipes and exploring cookbooks.  She’s good at many things but baking is really her speciality. She has whipped up some great desserts for us on holidays or just for fun.

If you’re just getting started with your son or daughter in the kitchen, make sure everyone is ready to just enjoy the process. Cooking with young kids can be a tricky process. With a healthy dose of patience, however, you won’t mind waiting while the little hands scoop out a cup of this or a teaspoon of that. You also don’t want to start when you’re making an important holiday meal or dinner. If the recipe doesn’t turn out right, you may have some disappointed mini-chefs or guests.

Before you start cooking with kids, here are a few things to consider.

What is a Good Age To Start Cooking With Kids?

Kids between 3-5 are great helpers. They can put in the ingredients that you have pre-measured and then stir. They will really enjoy that.  Older kids are good at measuring and gathering the ingredients. My daughter started cooking on her own around 8. I usually just stepped in to put items in the oven and then take it out.  If your child is a good reader, they can be a great helper.

Cooking With Kids Helps With Math & Reading.

Cooking with kids is not only a fun activity to do with your kids but it also helps with reading and math skills. If we are doubling a recipe, my fourth greater can practice adding her fractions.  Reading the recipe carefully helps ensure that the food tastes yummy.

Cooking with Kids Encourages Children to Try New Foods.

Children take pride in their work and they will always try what they cook. One way to get kids to try new foods is to have them make dishes with different foods.

Six Tips to Get Kids Started In the Kitchen

  1. Start with easier recipes that are “forgiving” if ingredients are not added or blended just right.  Assign age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen.
  2. Always keep safety in mind and remind your kids of the safety rules before you start your dish. My rules are simple: wash hands before cooking or after touching meat or eggs, and never go near the hot stove.
  3. Start by reading all the directions and ingredients before you start cooking. We start first with scanning the recipe to determine what needs to be done and then divide up the work in advance. Dividing up the tasks helps us make sure that we don’t add twice or triple the ingredients needed and gives everyone a chance to help.
  4. Every chef needs the right tools in the kitchen. My kids have their own aprons and a stool to help them reach the counter. There are some really great cookbooks made with junior chefs in mind, but you don’t need to limit yourself to just those cookbooks.
  5. Give yourself enough time to prep and make the food. You won’t be able to rush through the process, and if you try to, you’ll stress yourself and the kids out.
  6. Have fun with it! It’s a great activity for the kids, and they will cherish the moment (and the food!).

Do you cook with your kids? What are some of your favorite things to make with them?

Comments

  1. My boys love helping me in the kitchen. We do a lot of baking and they enjoy having a job to do.

  2. I love what an altogether great lesson cooking with kids is! Not only are they being taught a life skill but working on their math and reading skills is so important as well!

  3. What a great way to have the kids help out in the kitchen

  4. My kids have just started to become interested in cooking; Mostly we bake together.

  5. Love this!! My youngest daughter is itching to get in the kitchen!!

  6. Great tips. I believe all kids should learn how to cook at an early age.

  7. I love to cook with my children (and they love to cook with me!). This is one of our favorite rainy-day activities. Thank you so much for sharing these tips, Nadia!

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