Today, I'm participating in the "I am Blissfully Domestic" feature at Blissfully Domestic. This morning, the kids and I watched an episode of "Good Eats" that was about cooking with kids, so I thought I'd share some of our family's kitchen experiences.
Since the kids were little, they have been helping in the kitchen. They have been setting and clearing the table since they've been able to hold the dishes. When they expressed interest in cooking, I started to let them help cook. At first, they poured ingredients that I had measured into the bowl. Later, they started to do the measuring themselves. We then moved on to them using the mixer, then later cooking on the stove. When they were reading, I had them read recipes and follow the recipe directions. Now, they are both pretty independent in the kitchen. In fact, Wild Man has been getting very frustrated that I want to help him bake. He's ready to go it alone.
Over the last few years, I've learned a few thing about letting kids in the kitchen.
1. Safety first! One of my kids had a bad habit of forgetting to turn the burner off when finished cooking. We've talked about that as well as having some consequences, so it's not a problem anymore. Both kids know where the fire extinguisher is as well as how to use it. They also know how to smother fires if they are ever without a fire extinguisher. They also have been taught how to use knives, etc. While some injuries are inevitable, I have done my best to make sure the kids are doing things safely and in an age-appropriate fashion.
2. Clean up! Basically, if I have to clean up after someone else's cooking, that person doesn't get to cook again for a week or so. I don't expect them to get everything quite as clean as I do, but I do expect that the ingredients are put away, the dishes are in the dishwasher, and that the counters are wiped off. Their cooking should not create much extra work for other people.
3. Eat what they cook. One of my best memories of my teen years is my dad eating chicken and rice that was crunchy since the rice wasn't completely cooked. And he didn't complain. Talk about unconditional love! I try to do the same with my kids. Unless it's dangerous, I eat it.
4. Be encouraging. My kids are both rather perfectionistic and they get really uptight if their creations don't measure up to their incredibly high expectations. I am happy to encourage their efforts and remind them that only God is perfect. I try to help them see that even failures are a great learning experience.
5. Allow for failure. When my kids make something that really is not good, they have the freedom to throw it out. I try to make this possible by having them cook with inexpensive ingredients. So, if Ga'hoole Girl wants to make something with salmon or shrimp, I'm more likely to supervise than if she's making something with ground beef or venison. Throwing out $15 worth of food is pretty tough, but I'm happy to call $2 worth of food a learning experience.
6. Hands off. As my kids have gotten older, they have requested less and less help from me. Now, they prefer to work completely on their own and kick me out of the kitchen. It's hard for a control freak like me to let go, but the lessons they learn from working independently are truly worth it.
What do you do in the kitchen with your kids? Leave a comment below! Check out Blissfully Domestic for more great domestic ideas.