Besides being a wonderful chance for parent and child to bond, letting junior help you cook also encourages him be more adventurous with his food. It also hones his hygiene know-how ― so, do make sure he washes his hands before and during his handling of raw ingredients.
In addition, cooking is educational ― he’ll learn to recognise ingredients, discover their origins, plus, learn how to use various kitchen tools. He’ll acquire patience (when he marinates meats and waits for dough to rise, for instance), and even pick up math skills, such a counting, doubling or halving recipes, and measuring ingredients.
Kids can start from as young as age 2 ― they’ll love the sensory work involved in kneading and mixing, as well as the whole idea of creating an edible “project”.
They’ll love the sensory work involved in kneading and mixing, as well as the whole idea of creating an edible “project”.
Younger kids will, of course, require supervision and lots of direction. But give them the freedom to be creative, too ― ask junior what veggies he’d like to have in his salad today, or let him choose the shape of his pasta for dinner.
At the end of the cooking session, remind him that cleaning up is essential ― even toddlers can help to clear their dishes and wipe down the tables. Older kids can help to wash and dry the crockery, as well as sort and store the tableware.
Can’t wait to get started? We’ve got a quick guide for you. Of course, every child’s maturity and dexterity differs, so feel free to start your kiddo on a task earlier, if you feel he’s ready for it.
Infographic: Rachel Lim
*How to teach knife skills to your child
· Start by using a plastic knife on soft foods like bananas and avocados. Always use two hands when cutting ― one hand to hold the knife, the other hand to hold the food in a “claw position”, to keep fingers safe.
· Show your child how to cut properly ― the tip of the knife should always remain on the cutting board, while the lifting and lowering of the handle allows the food to be cut.
· Set knife rules. Hands should not be placed on the cutting board when a knife is being used. Only adults are allowed to take a knife out of the knife block.
· Once your child is ready to move on to harder foods (like raw carrots and cucumbers), let him use a sharp knife. A blunt edge makes it harder to cut through food ― it may even cause accidents when the knife slips off the food and cuts the skin.
· Don’t rush the cutting process ― parents should also resist the urge to “recut” or “fix” the cut pieces.
While it’s important to follow the rules, do always keep the cooking sessions fun and enjoyable!
Main photo: iStock
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