Let your child help with meal preparation
The kitchen can be a fascinating place for young kids. They see grown-ups working briskly in there, watch the steam rise from pots on the stove, and smell what’s on the menu that night. Even older kids might be intrigued by how baked goods and meals come together. It isn’t always convenient to invite them into the kitchen to help, but consider doing so when time allows.
Younger kids can watch what you’re doing and help out with small tasks, like stirring something or setting the table. Older kids can be taught how to crack eggs or measure ingredients. Even teens might be lured into the kitchen if you tell them they can choose the dish and you’ll help prepare it with them.
To the kids, it will seem like fun, but there are other benefits to this time together:
Preschoolers see how the dishes they eat are put together — and they get hands-on experience, which is a great way to learn and feel like they are helping out.
Parents get something out of this kitchen togetherness, too. First, there’s the quality time you’ll share. Then there’s the pleasure of sitting down at the table together to enjoy what you’ve whipped up.
Choose the Right Time
If you’re going to have kids helping you in the kitchen, you don’t want to be on a tight time schedule. Instead of involving them in a dinner you have to cook lightning-fast, enlist their help on a weekend afternoon when you don’t feel crunched.
Choose the Right Tasks
Plan ahead a little when deciding what you’ll prepare together. For younger kids, consider starting with simple dishes with fewer than five ingredients.
When you’ve chosen a recipe, think about which steps your child can do independently. For instance, kids who can read can call out the ingredients from the recipe card while you put them out on the counter. A younger child can help you pour ingredients into a bowl. An older child might be able to measure out ingredients and add them unassisted.
Children need supervision when they’re in the kitchen. Preschoolers must learn not to touch whirring electric beaters, hot pans, and stovetops.
Here are some safety tips:
Even older kids will need safety reminders, especially if they’re working with appliances and knives, or at the stove.