Children love to help out in the kitchen, but often that “help” ends up being much more work than we were hoping for. Often parents decide to do everything themselves, just to get it done quickly, and an opportunity for learning and development is lost. But that doesn’t need to be the case. There are a lot of age appropriate tasks that can get your little one involved
The most important thing to remember when picking a task for your child in the kitchen is safety. Never give your little helpers knives, or glass objects and try to keep projects easily reachable so that they aren’t tempted to climb into precarious positions or risk falling or pulling something down on top of them.
Here are a few basic ideas to get you started.
1. “Wash” the pots and pans.
Give your child a damp washcloth and let them sit next to the cupboard pulling out pots and pans one at a time to give them a good washing. This task is good for a variety of ages, and can last a good chunk of time.
2. “Sort” the food.
Whether you ask your child to sort the raisins out of the bran flakes, or the seeds out of the watermelon, this sorting task is great for manual dexterity, focus, and attention to detail. It can get a little messy depending on what you are having sorted, but you can minimize the mess by providing a couple dishes to use for the sorting.
3. “Mix” the bowl.
No matter what you are preparing, you can let your child help mix it up. There is a danger of making a mess, but with just a little extra attention and guidance your child will be able to toss the salad without tossing it on the floor, or beat the batter without the splatter.
4. “Cut” the shapes
Once you have a YummyShapes food cutter your little ones will be able to help pop out shapes in many different kinds of foods. While you wait for the YummyShapes product to hit the market, you can use cookie cutters on softer foods like sandwiches or watermelon.
5. “Bake” the veggies
Spreading some veggies on a pan to be roasted is one of the easy, and safe ways for your little ones to help out. Let them pick how to lay out the different veggies, and watch their creativity blossom. Plus they are so proud of helping that they are even more likely than normal to eat their vegetables.
However you decide to involve your kids in the kitchen, remember to keep it safe, and to give them some freedom in how they do the task that you give them. Showing approval of your child’s contribution is a great way to build confidence and self esteem. And don’t forget the most important part of all, HAVE FUN! Because ultimately that is what your children will remember most.