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Family Team Work


ANSWER: Investment, my friend, investment.

At first, having a young child (or even an older child) assist in the kitchen may seem like a huge bother. But isn’t that what parenting is all about – being hugely bothered? Take courage.  If you start with the small and simple, you and your child will grow into a love of working together with food.

Know that there will ALMOST ALWAYS be messes to clean up. AND know you can stop fussing over what you’re NOT letting them touch or do – in general, control issues. Be in control where safety and common sense are involved. Let go of control enough to allow your helper(s) enjoy and learn, including the clean up.

If you’re thinking you are TOO busy to try the suggestions below, then GET UN­-BUSY. Your child is depending on you!

Start young, start simple

First stirrings

Learning:  Teach children colors, textures, sizes, shapes. Introduce them to hot, sharp, heavy, breakable, i.e. DANGERS in the kitchen

Choosing: Let them choose colors, ingredients – smoothies, stir fry, salads, seasonings

Spooning: Invite them to spoon, serving their own plate

Forking: poking chunks of food to eat

Rolling: first the flour; then a small piece of dough that can be fried and sugared.

Cutting: Introduce blunt-end scissors – lettuce, spinach, kale, fresh herbs  (practice with Playdoh) DON’T FORGET cookie cutters!         A table knife – bread, bananas, other soft items.

Stirring: short handled wooden spoons fit small hands; deep, stable bowls on a lower surface just for them – pudding, Jello, smoothies, frozen juice

Sprinkling/shaking: make sure your bottle has a tight sprinkle lid

Spreading: i.e. smearing – more tasting 🙂

Cleaning up: little ones love squirt bottles and vacuums

Serving: does Daddy want some?

As kids get older                                                                                                                             

Assistant Chef

Progress to: measuring, pouring, breaking an egg, tasting, flipping, sweeping, washing, more rolling, setting the table. Depending on the age and maturity, older children will enjoy learning to use some of the big kitchen toys. You’ve undoubtedly entrusted them with the buttons on the microwave. Why not supervise a time with the Kitchenaide, the hand mixer, the toaster (what else do you have on your counters?) The soup pot and the frying pan should be in the mix there somewhere as well.

Taster in Chief

Grow the talent, yours and theirs!             

Any time you spend with your child (or grandchild!!) is a potential opportunity for personal growth, yours and theirs! Think about the life skills you want your child to develop and make a plan to include introducing and practicing those skill sets in your time together.

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