As any parent will tell you, there comes a time when you must teach your kids to cook on their own so they can become independent adults. You don’t want them relying on fast food and take out for the rest of their lives. So, when do you start? Is there a ‘right’ age to start teaching your kids various cooking skills? The answer, of course, depends on your child. Some kids take a natural liking and interest to cooking from a young age; others seem to have no interest at all until they are much older. The trick is to not force them; let them learn at their own pace. When they start asking questions and showing an interest, you can teach them the skills keeping in mind the age appropriateness of your child (i.e. you wouldn’t teach your three year old how to use the stove.)
The first thing you must teach your kids is safety.
Things that are common sense to you may not be to them. Don’t touch the burners, don’t touch the inside of the oven, and never leave the stove unattended are things that will need to be taught. You should also teach them how to use a fire extinguisher, and other safety measures in case of a fire or other emergency.
Start with simple tasks, like boiling water, or making toast.
They can help you bake by measuring ingredients, mixing, breaking eggs, and pouring milk to make baked goods. Of course, you’ll need to supervise closely at all times.
As they get comfortable with simple tasks, they will graduate into more challenging cooking tasks. They will be able to make things like macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches or soup. When they reach an age of 12 or 13, they should be able to make their own sandwiches, or snacks. When you are cooking, and if they express an interest, explain what you are doing and why. Talk about the ingredients and why they work together; explain how to cook with a creative edge. Have them learn how to read a recipe properly, and how to put their own creativity into it.
Of course, before you let your teenager cook when you’re not there, you’ll have to make sure you have enough home insurance coverage! It will give you peace of mind knowing you’re covered if they set fire to the kitchen. Seriously though, it cannot be stressed enough: your kids need to learn standard safety measures in order to be comfortable in the kitchen.
Pretty soon, your child will be able to cook for themselves
They will be able to make a snack or sandwich after school; they will be able to help with dinner preparations. When they move out on their own, they will know exactly how to cook properly. Part of being a parent is teaching your children how to survive on their own and having them gain their independence. Cooking is a big step towards that independence. They will thank you someday.
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