Originally Sent: 9/19/2013
September 19, 2013
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Kids in the Kitchen
In a recent post, my friend Sue Gregg reminded parents that:
“Children want to start helping in the kitchen at a very young age. So many mothers pass up this opportunity for the sake of time (‘I can do it faster myself’). What shortsightedness! Take the time to teach your children what they can and want to learn at each age. This will pay great time dividends for you as they gain these skills and can perform them independently. Don’t be a supermom who does it all; be a smart mom who liberally engages the assistance of well-trained children. They will ‘rise up and call you blessed.’ And you will be!”
In our own family’s chore rotation, one child was designated as assistant cook for two months at a time, shadowing me in the kitchen to (a) learn cooking skills and (b) spend some one-on-one time with mom. I know it can be difficult to get dinner on the table with little helpers at every meal, but we can be purposeful to include them as little apprentices periodically, even if not three times a day.
What Can They Do?
Sue stresses that what your 4- or 5-year-old can do will depend on what he learned at ages 2 and 3; skills build on previous experience, so get them started early. But here’s a general list she provides to give us an idea of realistic, age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate expectations:
Four- and five-year-olds can:
(Lists excerpted from Sue Gregg’s cookbook, Lunches & Snacks with Lessons for Children, pages 24-25; used with permission.)
Older elementary children can learn basic cooking skills using most basic recipes. My own children learned from our classic Betty Crocker and Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks, as well as our Sue Gregg cookbook series (and more Hershey cookbooks than I should admit!). Later, they relied upon a compilation of our family’s favorite recipe adaptations in Everyday Cooking, which includes the “Basic Cooking Skills Checklist” that earned them their home economics credit and provided the foundation for their culinary experience.
Family Meal Preparation Builds More Than Strong Bodies
Kitchen meal preparation time can be family time, building stronger relationships and stronger independent living skills—while preparing meals to build stronger bodies.
Resources for Kids in the Kitchen
Lunches and Snacks, with Lessons for Children by Sue Gregg
Family Favorites from the Homeschool Kitchen compiled by HSLDA/The Homeschool Foundation
Everyday Cooking by Vicki Bentley
Eating Better cookbook series from Sue Gregg (More than a cookbook series—this is a cooking and nutrition curriculum in spiral binding!)
Streamlining Mealtime for the Homeschool Family by Sarah Avila, Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling
Getting Dinner on the Table … The SAME Day You Homeschool by Vicki Bentley (e-book)
Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A. by Loree Pettit
“Baking with Whole Grains” (comprehensive course for high school) by Sue Gregg
Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Aramini
Cooking with Kids from PBS Kids
Raddish Kids - a cooking club for kids! They learn basic skills, help prepare several themed dishes from each kit. Includes tool-of-the-month instruction card, recipes, and badge for mastering the month’s skill (you provide the food). May be used for multiple children (add-ons available).
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