Many children from an early age want to participate in the process of cooking, especially if their mothers love and know how to cook. We will help you identify how children can help and develop love for cooking.
“For many families, the kitchen is a place for intergenerational fellowship and togetherness. If your children show a great interest in food, or at least they have their own favorite foods, actively involve them in cooking. Not only does this develop motor skills at an early age, but it also builds proper cooking habits that will serve your children for a lifetime.
Parents, please set your son or daughter tasks that a little person is capable of solving. Yes, he or she will have to try, make an effort, and sometimes show character, but he or she can do it. Each step gives the child a valuable tool, an experience that helps him develop empathy and self-esteem. He is helped by common family activities, holidays, and, of course, responsibilities. Let them be feasible, but legitimate. If today parents ask their child to do something at home, making it a habit, and tomorrow they forget about the agreement, changing their mind, the child may perceive your words as not serious and your actions as devoid of logic. This is not the best way to develop a parent-child relationship.
Do not forget about the motto of almost all children: “I – myself”, which appears in many children as early as 3 years old. Take advantage of this, talk to your child about his needs and desires, deal with mistakes, without suppressing or humiliating – go down the road of mutual respect and friendly conversation with your children. Of course, I’m not just talking about the child in the kitchen, but that’s where coordinated work with adults leads to wonderful results.
Children ages 2-4: laying out food in bowls and stirring it
Involving toddlers to participate in cooking as much as possible helps them develop life skills and reduce picky eating. This age is especially important for developing food preferences and gaining autonomy. For example, toddlers can arrange vegetables or fruit into bowls, selecting them from many others, or mixing salad ingredients that have already been chopped into a bowl using a tablespoon.
Choose tasks for toddlers that encourage fine motor skills and help children use their sense of touch, smell, and taste to learn about many foods that are safe for them.
For example, if you ask a 2 to 3 year old child to pour pre-measured flour into a bowl to make dough, the child can touch the flour, see how it falls into the bowl, and form an idea of the product not visually, but tactually.
Closer to 4 years old, a child can already use a wooden or silicone spatula to stir liquid dough for pancakes or fruit salad. Only older relatives need to hold a bowl or salad bowl so that the dishes don’t tip over. Of course, it will be a pity for the wasted food and time to clean up, but if the child gets upset and disappointed in his actions – it will be worse. It is important for boys and girls of this age to feel useful, so they clearly see that their work leads to the result – a ready tasty dish.
Children ages 4-7: Helping set the table and clean up dishes
At age 4-5, a child’s attention span increases. He or she can concentrate on one activity for up to 30 minutes. Competitiveness and desire to be a winner in any competitions begins to appear actively. At age 6-7, children’s group games involving interaction with each other are accompanied by communication, performance of roles. This is the time when many children’s visual activity “aggravates,” children actively draw and sculpt. Work with elastic dough, laying the table and decorating dishes for them can become a part of such activity.
Table setting also improves cognitive skills such as right/left and far/close. Start with clear instructions and asking them to place tableware and utensils on the table according to the rules. Then ask for some details to complete the setting or create them together, such as thinking up the decorations for the placemats. If it’s a themed holiday table decoration for the New Year, birthday or March 8, involve the child in its design by all means. So he’ll understand that his participation – an essential attribute of the family holiday.
If you don’t like to clean the table, I have good news for you: these cleaning tasks are great for preschoolers 6-7 years old.
At age 6, kids can start rinsing dishes before putting them in the sink for further washing. At age 7 they are able to wash them themselves or load them into the dishwasher.
Children aged 7-10: developing simple cooking skills
By the time children become elementary school students, they have the cognitive ability to follow instructions from one step to the next.
At this age, the best way to stimulate the brain while cooking is to describe their actions aloud. Let your child reason why he or she is doing something at this moment: why he or she pours water first and then puts eggs in them to boil, or why the oven is turned on first and then a tray of cookies is sent to it. These simple questions require the young brain to make the neural connections necessary for sequential problem solving. You can participate and ask similar questions of your son or daughter. Let the questions be many and some of them be funny. The more positive emotions you evoke in your child, the better the learning.
At this age, it is important that the child wants to be independent. If he knows how to set the table himself, wash dishes with his hands, cook simple dishes (boil sausages and eggs, make an omelet, heat up food in a microwave oven or on the stove) – that’s good.
It is great if students in grades 3-4 can use skills learned in math class to work with recipes, such as increasing or decreasing the number of servings.
Children ages 10-12: Using knives and appliances (supervised)
Children in their teens are already capable of taking on more responsibility and using knives, ovens, and appliances with blades for cooking.
Beginning at age 10, children can use knives, canning knives and pizza knives and can stir the contents of a pot or frying pan that has been on the fire. To be safe, this should be done with an adult watching and ready to help.
Middle school students can already help organize meetings with friends at home. This, by the way, is a great excuse to tighten up their knowledge of the family budget: what they can afford to buy from groceries to meet friends, and what they can save money on! If they have younger siblings, kids 10-12 can feed them. Only adults, in this case, need to give the older one clear tasks and clarify the limitations.
At the age of 10-12, children develop systemic thinking. They are able to go to the store on their own, begin to pay attention to the quality of products and know the rules of their correct choice.
Children 13-15 years old: cooking more complex dishes and taking initiative in the kitchen
You may ask: where did the year of 12 years suddenly fall out? It so happens that this age is special in the development of the child. It either belongs to a younger age group, or is psychologically equated with older children. So a 12-year-old pupil can be in the 7-10 age group according to his intellectual development, but he can already solve vital tasks at the level of older children – from 13 to 15 years old.
The beginning of puberty signals the beginning of an exciting new phase in children’s lives. Teenagers can make their own choices about food as well. Many at this age begin to wonder how different foods affect their appearance and well-being. Help your children with this. Without criticizing or dictating, study websites and books together, look for interesting recipes and buy healthy foods in stores, go to a nutritionist or beautician.
Since kids make their own decisions about what they want to eat during adolescence, encourage them to want to cook new foods. A passionate teen cook is capable of reaching quite decent heights with your support.
It is important for parents of teenagers to thoughtfully and systematically instill in their children skills in the world around them; help boys and girls live and grow up, because it is necessary for a child to answer the questions himself: “what I can and am able to do.” These duties of education should not be from time to time (at will and mood), but from day to day. Here the chain “showed – saw – did” does not work. It is known that it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit, but we are not talking about habits, but about the skills of independence – so the time for this work on yourself should pass even more.
Vladimir Nabokov said: “Spoil the children, gentlemen! No one knows what the future holds for them.” I say, “Be with your children as long as you are interested in each other. You won’t be bored in the kitchen, and you can all eat the food together with gusto, or turn a failed dish into a harmless family joke.
All of the above recommendations are only basic, because every person (young or older) is an individual.