Insights » Kitchen Skills

Kitchen Skills

Saturday 1st April 2017

Everyday skills are becoming less important in an age where computers are playing such a role in people’s daily lives. Everything comes with an app or a website. People of all ages are seem to be interested in food, but not how to prepare it or where it comes from. Learning to cook is one of the most empowering skills to give to a person, and the younger the age, the more enjoyment you and your family are likely to get out of it over the years.

 

PPcooking3 jpgSome of the benefits of teaching your children to cook include:

Increased confidence (opportunities to praise and encourage interests)

Stronger family bonds (spending quality time, maybe sharing recipes from family members)

Appreciation of food, less picky eating (children might be more likely to try something new if they have made it themselves)

Development of fine motor skills in very young children (for example. rolling, stirring, measuring)

Reading and following instructions, measurements and practical maths

Encourages creativity, responsibility (decorating or arranging dishes, trying new recipes, cleaning up or grocery shopping- there are lots of opportunities to give children appreciation for what goes into putting food on the table)

Gives children a chance to serve others, practice gratitude, and show their appreciation for the person that prepares meals.

 

Above all, it’s an activity that doesn’t feel like a chore to kids. It’s a great chance for them to understand the importance of team efforts, as well as learning an important life skill. Too many children are unfamiliar with how food winds up on their table; society as a whole is becoming disconnected with the origin of their food, as well as losing out on cooking skills that previous generations took for granted.

 

Be aware of hazards in the kitchen, especially from grabbing hands. Cooking with children under ten years will more than likely require full supervision. Pay attention to pot handles, hot food and liquids, sharp or heavy utensils and cleaning products.

 

All children are different, and only you as parents can understand what your children might find easy or difficult depending on them. Here are a few suggested guidelines of kitchen activities to ease them in.

 

Children under 3 are better left to things at room temperature, but are more likely to enjoy:

Washing vegetables and fruit (also a great way to teach the names of things for tactile and kinesthetic learners)

Sprinkling, decorating – (cakes and desserts, arranging things allows them to be creative and feel a sense of accomplishment)

Stirring, mashing or spooning out ingredients (you can measure things out if you want)

 

Children aged 3-5 have more understanding of instruction, as well as improved motor skills- try things like:

Weighing things out and basic counting (cups, teaspoons, etc.)

Cutting soft ingredients (using soft plastic knives to cut things like banana, strawberry, butter, mushrooms)

Mixing and stirring (either with hands or spoons)

Making things with breadcrumbs (make station with egg, flour and breadcrumbs to coat things)

Tearing fruit or vegetables (like herbs, green beans, spinach)

 

Children 5-7 can tackle slightly trickier tasks, and require slightly less supervision than the very young- have a look at trying:

Grating and cutting using small knives and scissors, and keeping fingers safe

Measuring out ingredients from a recipe

Setting the table for dinner

Greasing and lining cake tins or trays

Children 8-11 are slightly more advanced and can now take part in discussions about what they would like to try making. They could try: 

Planning meals, looking up and following a simple recipe

Fetching ingredients during trips to the supermarket, and at home

Peeling vegetables and opening cans

Whisking, using a balloon whisk or handheld mixer

Using heat on a hob, oven and microwave

Making salads

 

PPcooking2 jpgOnce children are past age 12, it’s likely they’ll be able to prepare more complex recipes- they’re now old enough to express interest in cooking, or dismiss it as a chore they have to help out with.  They can understand food hygiene, the maths behind adding, multiplying recipes, and the chemical reactions of cooking. Teenagers may want to cook a meal totally on their own, but only you are able to decide if they are sensible enough to know where accidents happen.

 

Finally, teaching cooking is a way to strengthen your family’s cultural identity through food and drink. For those of us living, working and raising families abroad, it can sometimes mean a weaker connection with our home nations; those of us that call this our permanent home may find their own customs getting forgotten. Pass down recipes; make traditions; exchange recipes with your friends and neighbors. Using food as a way to share and strengthen our cultural ties is something everyone can get behind.

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