No matter what age your children are, there are ways to make sure they feel as though they are part of the meal-making process. Numerous short-term and long-term benefits can be gained by involving the whole family in the kitchen. First, here’s how to involve your children in the kitchen:
Toddlers can be involved by stirring most anything as well as helping to wipe down the solid surfaces after food preparation is complete. 3-5 year-olds can help wash vegetables and other produce as well as contributing to simple food preparations, such as peeling hard boiled eggs or shucking ears of corn.
By 6-8 years old, children can begin simple cooking, such as scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, and pancakes. Also, they are able to make most any type of sandwich. At age 9-11, simple recipes can be followed – cookies, smoothies, steamed vegetables, etc. They can also contribute more with chores following the meal: washing dishes, taking out trash.
Ages 12-14 brings a new level of complexity. By this age, children are able to cook more complex things such as muffins, chili, and tacos. They are also able to assist with most every part of the meal cleanup. By high school-age, children will have similar cooking capacities as adults. As children grown and become more involved in the kitchen, it is important to begin and continue to teach them about safety in the kitchen.
Finally, there are many benefits to be gained by involving children in the kitchen:
Short-term benefits include healthy eating, increased self-esteem (feelings of accomplishment and contribution to the family), time spent with parents, and time spent away from electronics. Long-term benefits include an establishment of cooking as a lifelong skill, healthy eating, and an increase in self-confidence.
Be sure to always think of ways in which you can involve your children in the kitchen – from letting them pick which plate they would like to eat off of to having them prepare the entire meal with supervision. In the comments section below, share how you have made sure your children are involved in the cooking process.