Cooking with Kids

Below is a class I had written addressing "Cooking with Kids" . It is one a series of presentations I had hoped to do that would introduce the younger members of the SCA to the culinary arts. This is a very general introduction to cooking with children which includes information on safety tips, age based skills and strategies that you can use at home.

Why cook with your children? The earlier your child learns how to cook, the sooner they will learn an essential life skill. Spending time in the kitchen gives children confidence and boosts their self esteem. It also teaches responsibility. An added benefit is that your children are learning science, language, fine motor skills, reading, problem solving, weighing, measuring, budgeting, sequencing, following directions and patience--and they don't even realize it :-)

Meals prepared from scratch are usually healthier, containing more nutrients, fewer calories, chemicals and sweeteners then prepackaged foods. Preparing meals together means you are spending quality time with your children. The time you spend together chatting and communicating is important.

Introducing your child to cooking can start at a very young age. As soon as my children were old enough to stand at the stove, they were old enough to learn how to cook--yes, they were in the kitchen banging on pots and pans, playing with measuring cups and spoons at the age of two.  While it seems that children of this age are limited, there is plenty they can do.  They are beginning to develop their motor skills, and their attention is very limited so remember to tailor your tasks to their particular abilities.  

As your children grow older you should allow them to increase their activities.  By six years old, they are starting to develop their own likes, opinons and desires.  They want to participate in activities that they see their older siblings or parents do.  Instead of telling your child "you are too young" encourage them in the kitchen!  It is an environment where you can safely supervise their activities while allowing them to explore. At this age you can also start introducing "projects", for example, making your own butter by adding cream and a little salt to a jar and letting them shake it.  They can also help you plan meals or find items in the pantry or fridge.  Don't tell them "they are too young"--they aren't. 

As early as nine years old, your child should be able to put together and cook a very simple meal. This is a perfect time to start speaking to your children about food safety and cross contamination.  You should be present in the kitchen, but allow your child to cook a meal once or twice a week.  Don't forget, that part of cooking is cleaning up afterwords.  Set aside a space for your child to grow their own garden vegetables too! 

It was in the kitchen that some of my most significant conversations took place.  It was our safe area, no topic is off limits and my children and their friends were able to discuss relationships, health concerns, hopes and dreams.  All three of my babies are out of the house now, but the kitchen is still a central part of our home.  

I hope you enjoy.

P.S.  This is my first attempt at bringing a power point presentation to blogger.