FAMILY, LIVING with kids | April 20, 2010

5 Simple Ways to Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen

kids who give a hand in the kitchen

I am glad to introduce Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, a mother to two little chefs-in-training and editor at Simple Bites, a website dedicated to bringing whole food to real families, simply. When she is not planning her next menu, or eating her way around Montreal, Aimée can be usually found out enjoying nature and occasionally hugging a tree. She accepted to share tried and tested ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen.

Parents of young children will agree that kids like to be right where the action is when they’re trying to make dinner. That’s right, directly underfoot.

Why not invite them to pull up a chair and lend a hand the next time you trip over them? Yes, it requires the patience of a Saint, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Just think: during this worthwhile bonding time, your children can practice basic math skills, learn basic cooking techniques as well as valuable lessons in nutrition – all while fostering creativity.

kids learning how to cook

Here are five simple ways to get started; remember, patience is invaluable, as is plenty of praise for the little cooks.

  1. Invite All Hands on Deck. Get ready to get dirty and set your mind at ease by expecting a mess! Choose tasks that are safe for little hands and that will sharpen fine-motor coordination.
  2. Be a role model. Approach cooking with enthusiasm, and not as a chore, as your child will emulate your perspectives. Those picky eaters need you to set the example, so keep food likes and dislikes in check.
  3. Educate & Create. Learning doesn’t have to happen just in the classroom. In our kitchen we “Talk & Taste”: children are sponges for information, so we ‘Talk’ and learn about everything we do. As for ‘Taste’, well, that just happens on it’s own!
  4. Involve Your Child in Decision Making. This will help him to feel you are taking his tastes into consideration. Something as simple as choosing the add-in for these best muffins ever will give him some ownership and instill a sense of accomplishment.
  5. Teach in the Field. Visit local farms and teach kids where food comes from. This will help them make the connection between ingredients we buy and food we serve. In doing so you will encourage them to embrace foodreal food.

Attention, c’est chaud! Along the way, remember to teach your children the importance of kitchen safety and be sure to set boundaries early.

As parents, we have a responsibility to make eating about more than just putting food in our mouths.  Take the time to make the gathering and preparing of food, as well as the crucial sitting down together around the dinner table, central to eating.

Thank you, Aimee for your sound advice. I would add that cooking also teach kids about the need to clean after themselves. Any professional cook or chef will tell you that the first rule is to clean up spills the moment they happen and to clean up after each dish.

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4 Responses to “5 Simple Ways to Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen”

  1. I really try to have my 2 year old involved when I cook (ok, most of the time) it started when I was learning how to make flour tortillas so I would give her a small circle of dough and she would play with it then she wanted to be more involved so I would ask her to mix the soup (of course being very safe) and I find this very important because she is willing to eat what she has “prepared”. Plus it’s very important for me that she learns about her heritage (being half Latina) that we use lots of spices. Hopefully it won’t take her 30 years to learn how to make flour tortillas like it took me. LOL

  2. Elisa, the fact that your daughter is willing to eat what she prepared is, just by itself, a sufficient reason to teach kids how to cook. Continue your good work.

  3. Cooking pizza with the kids is also a great idea.

    Even the youngest is involved.

    We call it : party pizza!

  4. Fanfan: A pizza party is always fun. Have you seen my post on grilled cheese party? This is another easy party idea that kids might enjoy. http://kim.tl/dn8cA7