As parents, many of us take great pleasure in feeding our children and nourishing their bodies with rib-sticking fare. But as our kids get older and more responsible, it can be just as thrilling to share with them our knowledge of the kitchen and provide them with the tools to begin feeding themselves.
Here are a few simple tips to get you started.
Keep the mood light.
Kitchens are full of potentially dangerous equipment. From hot stoves to sharp knives, there’s plenty around to make you nervous. But remember, kids can read anxiety, and if you’re not relaxed, they won’t be either. Supervise them closely and be aware of hazards, but proceed with an upbeat voice and smiling eyes.
Plan the menu together.
Kids most enjoy new learning opportunities when they have a stake in the outcome, so make them part of the process. If they want to make cookies, let them. But the next lesson is yours to choose. Alternate between treats and more healthful, everyday fare, making cookies or pies then salads or smoothies.
Use and define terminology.
Mastering a new lexicon is part of skill-building, and kids are sponges when it comes to language acquisition. Teach your young chef proper cooking terms like sear and sauté, and don’t forget to include both a definition and hands-on examples. Soon they’ll be bandying about new words like natives. (“Mom, can I go sauté up and down on your bed?”)
Dig deep in your discussions.
Teaching kids to cook also presents opportunities to talk about culture, family history, nutrition, food politics and hunger. Keeping your child’s age in mind, consider discussing some of the broader issues surrounding food (while avoiding heavy-handed moralizing). You’re not just educating a future cook, you’re influencing a lifelong eater.
Keep your eye on the prize.
Your ultimate goal is not to create restaurant-quality dishes but to boost your children’s self-esteem and encourage their independence. At the end of your cooking sessions, if you’ve got a happy kid who’s excited to spend time in the kitchen, you’ve done your job, and done it well.
Content from © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Written by Cheryl Sternman Rule