10 Basic Cooking Skills for Kids
The earlier kids learn skills to cook, the more developed those skills will be. Cooking skills for kids will give them confidence in their abilities which will help them want to learn more.
Cooking activities for preschoolers
Kids are able to do a lot more than you might think in the kitchen. At Little Sprouts, kids under one even participate in cooking. When younger kids are building their cooking skills, it’s fun to watch the older kids. They get all nervous and jittery as they try to accomplish their tasks.
For more reasons why you should cook with your kids, click here.
What age should a child start cooking?
I have one little fella that covers his ears when the babies are putting their ingredient in the bowl. It’s so funny to watch him, but guess what? He’s learning from that too. He’s learning empathy, how to encourage someone else, patience and all kinds of other things.
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Teaching kids to cook
The main thing it takes to work with kids in the kitchen is patience. Don’t expect perfection. Perfectionism is an ugly monster. I know because I’m a perfectionist, but this is not a good way to live. When I learned to relax and allow myself and other people to make some mistakes, I became a much happier person.
At our recent gingerbread party, a mom was asking me how I was so laid back and I was telling her how I used to make all these rules for the gingerbread creations. I was always miserable because everyone didn’t do it perfectly how I wanted. Guess what? Other people have great ideas too and letting kids learn on their own is great for building their self-esteem.
Allowing families to create together with no expectations is a great way to let them have a fun bonding experience. Guess what else? When I was complaining to everyone that this had to be this way and that, they were probably miserable too. That’s not what I want at all.
I have learned to let other people take the lead and they come up with some super things.
Basic cooking skills for kids
The first thing kids should learn in the kitchen is hand washing! Cooking is a great time to teach kids about cleanliness. Proper hand washing takes some practice and repetition. Kids also need to learn to wash their food. Fresh produce needs to be cleaned before it is used for cooking. Kids need to learn why food needs to be washed as well.
Spreading is a great cooking skill for kids to learn. Spreading butter or cream cheese on toast or a cracker is super great for fine motor skill building. It’s fun and there are so many tasty spreads such as peanut butter that make awesome dishes.
Measuring is a cooking skill kids can learn. Measuring is a great math lesson as well. Learning that volume has different meanings is the first step to great culinary adventure. Another wonderful thing kids learn from cooking is that words have meaning. You can look at your recipe and show kids you are reading the instructions as you go. This teaches them the significance of letters, numbers, and words.
Cracking eggs is a big cooking skill for kids. It ends in disaster a lot, but if you get all cranky and uptight about it, you may regret raising a 25-year-old daughter that still won’t crack an egg around you because of how you acted when she was learning. Don’t ask me how I know, cause I just do.
Squeezing is a skill kids learn in cooking. Building up motor skills to squeeze citrus or garlic is a press is a great step they can learn. They also can learn to squeeze a cookie scoop or other utensil. If you kids have difficulty mastering their pincher grasp for neat handwriting, squeezing is a great activity to help them build up their muscles.
Cutting and tearing is a very necessary cooking skill. Depending on their age, kids can learn to safely use a knife. With my age group, preschool and younger, we do a lot of cutting with butter knives. We can cut apple slices, cucumber slices and many other things with them without the risk of a serious cut.
Kids are building up their muscles and learning to gain control as they cut. If they find the apple or slice of sweet potato is too hard to cut with their butter knife, then show them how to break them into pieces. Tearing lettuce or herbs is another great fine motor skill building technique.
Mashing fruit for purees, cooked apples into sauce, or potatoes into mashed potatoes is a super fun activity for kids to do in the kitchen. My kids love to smash the food, why not let them do it when you need them to. It’s great for building confidence and muscles.
Stirring is something kids love to do. Stirring neatly take muscle control. I love stirring activities, especially because if you have a lot of kids like I do, there can be a turn for everyone, just let everyone do a little stirring.
Planning meals is something very young kids are able to do. Ask them what would make a good meal and help guide them through a balanced group of choices. Get them thinking about what makes a balanced meal and you will be teaching them a great skill for their future.
Cleaning up after themselves is a vital skill for kids to learn. Do you know any 47-year-old men who still leave messes everywhere they go? I don’t, I was just asking. It could be an annoying trait in a partner for someone I would totally imagine. So, teach your kids young how to clean up their messes and they will have a more successful life. Cooking is messy so it’s a great opportunity to teach what it takes to do it.
There are so many things kids can learn from cooking. It may be easier to do it yourself, but you have the kids there, why not engage them in things you are already doing like preparing food. Cooking with kids is a great teacher for them and us.
If you need some awesome recipes to cook with your kids, there are a ton on the blog, check some of these out.
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