I’m a firm believer in raising my kids up with life skills. Now, I definitely want them to be kids and enjoy being kids, but right now while they are young, it’s the very time they enjoy doing “grown-up things” and learning in the kitchen. It’s also the time they like helping clean and so many other things… which means it’s the exact right time to get kids involved in the kitchen!
To me, these basic life skills, like how to wash their clothes, knowing their way around the kitchen and cleaning up after themselves are important tools for their lives, especially after aren’t under my roof anymore… but I think it’s pretty important while they’re still in my home too! 😉
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that my kids are often, okay pretty much always, in the kitchen with me. They love it! They’ll hear me clanging around with pots and pans and come running out of another room, “What are we making?” While we’ve been in the process of learning how to teach our kids about money, I thought it was a good time to kind of share my breakdown for how I get my kids involved in the kitchen at their different ages.
How To Get Kids Involved In The Kitchen
The baby and toddler years. At this stage, they’re just always by my side in general, so bringing them into the kitchen is pretty normal for any mom… they may sit in a highchair, crawl or walk around my feet. What’s great about this age with my little ones is just talking through what I’m doing. I’ll usually let them smell and see the food we’re using, we talk about colors and shapes and in general, it’s all about them feeling comfortable.
The preschool years. For my littles as preschoolers, they would get SO excited to help in any way possible. This meant turning over the pouring and stirring for sure. Turning on machines like the blender or mixer? Forget it, that was their job. This age is where I usually introduce measurements, and while they don’t always fully understand the differences, we would still say each scoop as we measure together and count as we pour into bowls and mixers. Things like rolling or punching dough, using cookie cutters and safely cutting (ie. bananas with a butter knife) were also introduced at this age.
The elementary years. This is a fun time in the kitchen… this is a time when I can actually begin to hand off tasks and they take pride in completing it “all by themselves.” Small things like washing vegetables, chopping ingredients (get a child-safe knife and it will be a huge help in the kitchen!), peeling, measuring and pouring are tasks they’ll be proud to complete once you’ve shown them how to safely accomplish it.
In the later elementary years, for example, now that Aliyah is ten, we’re teaching how to meal plan, write out grocery lists and save on grocery shopping! Now, once kiddos learn to write, they want to be in charge of list writing and I’ve spent many an afternoon spelling out B-R-E-A-D and A-P-P-L-E-S one letter at a time and our family has all thrown out ideas for meals for the week as I write a plan, but what I mean about this next step is actually letting my 10-year-old plan and cook a meal from start to finish… and start being the recipe planning and grocery list-making. She’s been SO excited about this next step, and in light of shows like Master Chef Junior and the like, we’re seeing an increase in interest in the kitchen during those young years. Or, maybe I should say, and increase in parents allowing kids to be more involved in the kitchen because I think kids have always wanted to… at least mine have. It’s the later years when they don’t want to be as involved and that’s why it’s so important to get them feeling confident, comfortable and competent in the kitchen as early on as we can!
Together we’ll pull out the recipe books and choose a meal she things she can handle in the kitchen, not that we’ll leave her on her own, but she is the one in charge and doing the majority of the work and decision making. Once the meal is chosen, we’ll write out our grocery list!
Plus, kids love to help us find a deal… and they love the chance to play on my phone, so when I can let them browse specials and add to our grocery list based on that, well, it’s a win-win in my book!
When we involve our kids in these steps, it helps them to more appreciate what’s being shared on our table, where our food comes from, they tend to have more confidence in their abilities and I definitely see less food wasted. A trip down the grocery aisle means so much more because they’re more invested in the final outcome. This even applies to times they only help write the list or even when they throw out ideas for meals, there is more “ownership” and thus more interest!
Now, full disclaimer, letting kids help also means bigger messes and more time, so if you’re in a hurry or short on patience, it might not be the day to start… but one thing I do know, the more they are in there with you, the more comfortable (and faster) everyone gets!
How do you get your kids involved in the kitchen? Are there certain things, or tasks, they just love to do?!