How to Teach Kids to Cookby Robin Hewitt
Kids love to feel like they're helping out, and teaching them how to cook is a great way to make them feel important while instilling a life skill. According to Doug Hewitt, author of "The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting," this is also a perfect setting to teach about failure and how to handle it, because there's nothing that deflates an ego quite like a cake that doesn't rise or a scorched omelet. By showing your kids that even mom isn't perfect, you can instill in them the willingness to try new things without fear.
Involve preschoolers in the cooking process by giving them simple chores such as stirring and counting or placing cupcake papers into the pan. Remember that their motor control isn't fully developed, but they'll get a big kick out of holding the running mixer beneath your own hand.
Assign older children cooking "chores" they'll enjoy, such as baking a cake (with your help) and cutting soft foods such as bananas with a bread knife. Reading the steps in a recipe is also a great assignment that grade school kids will enjoy.
Discuss cooking terms, measurements and ingredients while you're cooking with your children. It's easy to forget that even simple terms such as "brown" and "saute" can be confusing to a beginner. Don't take for granted that your kids understand everything in directions.
Brag about your kids' cooking accomplishments whenever you can, but don't overdo it.
- Give each child their own apron and keep it hanging in a handy spot.
- Ask your kids to help write meal menus for the week that include foods they'd like to help prepare.
- A trip to the grocery store or farmers market is a great teaching tool when learning to cook.
- Always supervise children carefully in the kitchen, especially when working with the stove on.