Kitchen education!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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 I just love having my kids in the kitchen.  It's something that has brought me delight from the time they were very little.  Sure it's been messy & annoying at times, but having them there is not only beneficial for their practical life, it's also great for their education.
Our children commence their kitchen education from the time they can sit in a high chair. Babies love to play with different textures & taste different ingredients.   Toddlers love being 'Mummy's big helper' & will happily add ingredients, crack eggs, stir & generally make a mess.  Preschoolers enjoy experimenting & it's fun for them to make up their own recipes.  They feel so excited when you pull their concoction out of the oven. Sure they often taste terrible, but we've been surprised how they usually end up eating them anyway (& if not, well the poor chickens don't seem to mind the unusual dish)  Of course if there is anything good about the taste everyone has to have a sample ( quite dubiously in some cases).

By the time a child is in school they should be proficient in basic kitchen skills.  By year one my children receive their "oven licence" (which just means they know how to use pot holders to put light things in & out of the oven & turn the oven & timer off ~ which has saved many a burnt cake when I've been outside for some reason!  I make sure this is well supervised at first until I am sure they are able to do it properly.

Once a child can read sufficiently they are able to follow basic recipes.  This is not only beneficial to their education, but it also means they have covered 'procedures' which is a text type required to be covered through each stage of their primary schooling here in Australia. (I'm not suggesting that just following a recipe will cover it sufficiently, but combine that with writing out a recipe & then writing the instructions for how they made or did something & you'll be close :)

Knife skills are next & you will be surprised how proficient your children will be at this at quite a young age.  I was rather dubious introducing this with my eldest, but have found no problems with any of them.  By this stage they are a big help in the kitchen & you will be thankful for every second you took when they were younger introducing them to it! (Just be quite clear with your boys that steak knives are NOT to be used for sword fighting  ~ oh yes, it's been done here at Sunnyside). Having a second & often third person able to chop things makes meal preparation so much quicker.

From here they need to learn how to follow the more 'fancy' instructions such as  folding & rubbing in of ingredients.  If they can learn these skills at a young age, it will serve them well for the rest of their life.  A friend of mine lets her children cook through a child's recipe book & I think that is a great way of aiding their education ~ mine tend to make recipes that I have ingredients for in the house.  We only shop once a week so I need to have my menu plan done early & if the children are not involved in making it, they have to settle for what's in the pantry if the cooking bug hits :).
Zai just now is starting to learn how to fry on the oventop.  I know it seems quite basic, but I am so worried about things splattering & the child burning themselves that I actually leave it til later ( although I do have them stir things that I've already put into the saucepan at a younger age ~ as long as they can see the ingredients so they won't pull it onto them).

As with anything what stage & age you introduce kitchen skills depends on the child & your family.

Zai has deemed himself chief birthday cake maker for Mum & Dad ~ this was Dave's one  last year:)
If you haven't brought your kids into the kitchen, let me encourage you to do it!  They will love having fun and helping you with whatever you are making.  They will be so proud of the dish when they serve it to Daddy!!  Sure there will be mess, there will be frustration & there will be mistakes ( isn't there with everything when you have children involved), but what you'll be doing is making some wonderful memories that they will cherish for their whole life!

They were a cute pair of little blondies once upon a time :)

Hope this inspires you to get cooking!!!

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