Let’s face it: the kitchen is a pretty scary place when you’re young. It’s full of sharp objects and live flames, and the only thing you really know about it - when you’re 4 or 5 years old - is that mummy or daddy bring tasty food out from it! As such, many children don't learn the basic skills needed to cook, and struggle later in life when they're teenagers, making to make a meal for themselves.
Well, there is some good news! Acknowledging that going outside feels impossible right now, with the bad weather and pandemic rules, now more than ever is a fantastic time to spend time in the kitchen with your little ones! Why not let your kids help out in the kitchen, and teach them how to cook family classics. Cooking and baking is a fun activity when you’re young and get to lick the bowl out at the end, and helping hands will make doing the dinner a lot less exhausting on you too!
And hey, seeing as we’ve just rung in the new year together, why not set up an activity like this as a resolution with your child? It’s a great way to get something done together, especially if you’re prone to commit for a week and then forget all about the resolution you promised to keep up with… Don’t worry, we all do it!
Of course, if cooking and baking isn’t quite your thing, we’ve got a whole list of other resolutions you can make with your kids right here on the Ducklings blog. But without any further ado, here are some of the appropriate kitchen skills to teach kids, even from when they’re little toddlers until they’re about 7 or 8 years old.
The basic tasks (2 and 3 years olds)
Limited coordination, easily bored, will probably need a nap afterwards - no, we’re not just talking about you after a long day of work here! We’re talking about toddlers, aged from 2 to 3 years old, who are fully capable of helping out in the kitchen despite their still developing motor skills.
So what can you let a 2 or 3-year-old do? Let them handle some blunt, plastic utensils, first of all, to help them get used to the way they feel and how to use them. You can also let them take hold of a weighing spoon and allow them to drop spoons of flour or sugar into a mixing bowl.
And once the cake or pie has come out of the oven, make sure it’s cooled down a little, and then let them sprinkle some more sugar or little sprinkles of cocoa or hundreds and thousands on top. This might end up messy, so be prepared for a cleanup job of its own!
The intermediate stuff (4 and 5 year olds)
Now your child is starting to get the hang of things! For kids above the age of 4, usually, their energy levels tend to outweigh their skill and coordination, and you can use that to your advantage within the kitchen. So it’s a good idea to let them loose with a mixing spoon or whisk - they can help to whip up a cake batter or a bit of double cream without getting anywhere near as tired as you would.
You can also let them use more utensils, such as a sieve or a rolling pin, which are all normal parts of the baking process anyway. You can even get them to help wash up after everything is in the oven! As long as it doesn't have sharp edges, a 4 or 5-year-old is going to excel in using it.
The advanced skills (6+ year olds)
As your child gets older, you can start to trust them with a few more things in the kitchen. As such, it’s a good idea to let them start using sharper knives to cut with. Make sure the knife in question is small enough for them to hold comfortably and then let them loose with some firmer ingredients, such as carrots and other uncooked vegetables.
You can also let them use the cheese grater comfortably now, as well as wield a pair of scissors, albeit still a pair made for children! You can also get a bit more advanced with the recipes you make together; try out new plates like mini pizza bites, chocolate chip cookies, and sausage rolls.
If you teach your kids to cook, they’ll grow up to love helping out in the kitchen. It’s clearly a lot of fun, and there’s always something yummy to eat at the end!