April school holidays are just around the corner. With little hands grabbing snacks out of the refrigerator and cupboards and muddy feet tracking across our shiny kitchen floors, the upcoming weeks are going to be challenging for a lot of us.
So what is a better way for us to keep watch on our little darlings while they are in the kitchen? The answer is to ask them to help us out. I know the idea of asking the kids to come into our personal domains might sound kind of crazy to some unenlightened parents. However, to many child behaviourists and nutritionists it really makes a lot of sense. How is that possible, you might be asking.
There are several reasons actually, including:
– It will keep them busy and you’ll know where they’re at.
– They will learn new creative skills.
– You can teach them all about nutrition while you are cooking.
– Preparing food on their own will make them appreciate it even more.
What chores can you have the kids help you with? Behaviorists say it’s a really good time to have them learn how to:
Measure and Count. Let them measure ingredients themselves and also learn how a conversion table works. For example, two cups of flour is equal to 250g.
Ownership. This is very clever and it one of our favorites. Let your kids have aprons of their own and also personal cookery boxes that have colorful measuring cups, spoons, a rolling pin and other kitchen accessories. They should be responsible for caring for them. Consider letting them help with planning menus for the next day.
Design. Allow your little ones to lay our starters for the plates, along with side dishes. This will show off their creativity. Have them think about what utensils are needed to serve the dishes.
Vegetable preparation. Teach kids about using a blender, chopping, mincing julienning and dicing while you are around to supervise.
Tidying and cleaning. Other things you can show them how to do include clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, and unloading it and putting the dishes away in the cupboards once they are clean.
Of course if you teach their big sisters and brothers various kitchen tips it will make toddlers and pre-schoolers want to be involved as well. That is perfectly fine. There are lots of things to help them learn and keep occupied with at the very same time, including:
Counting. Have your two or three year old count out the teaspoons of ingredients that are going into a bowl. A four or five year old can learn how to measure out liquids and level rounded teaspoons.
Combining ingredients. Young children love to stir. Preschoolers can learn to whisk and also pour ingredients into cooking and bakery dishes.
Vegetable and salad preparation. A toddler can rinse and peel soft fruits like oranges and bananas. Preschoolers can prepare fruit that is easy to cut, like strawberries, using a blunt knife. You can also teach them how to crack eggs at this age.
Fortunately, most kids do love to bake, cook and help to prepare food. They really love the magic of making something that smells and tastes wonderful and looks completely different and is created from some liquid and a couple of dry ingredients. They really like that they have helped with it. We believe that having kids help out with the cooking is one of the best things you can do to keep them from being under your feel over the school spring break. Trust us, we have been there!