This article is written by Daniel Sherwin from Dadsolo.com. All content provided is for informational purposes only. Always adapt and apply suggestions based on your child’s needs.
As a parent, you know that your ultimate job is to prepare your child for his life; teach him to be a productive and independent adult who is capable of taking care of himself.
And while teaching him how to work the washing machine and a broom aren’t exactly exciting lessons, cooking with your child invites creativity and imagination. Not only do you get to have fun together (try playing Chopped at home) but statistically, kids who know how to cook develop lasting, healthy eating habits.
If you’re thinking, “That’s all great but I don’t really know how to cook healthy meals, either,” no problem. Kids who learn through educational programs show the same healthy habits and you can enjoy being classmates. Enroll in a community cooking class together, then go through this checklist.
Prepare for catastrophe
Get your kitchen ready for possible calamities like cuts and grease fires, not because they’ll happen but because if they do, you should be prepared to act quickly. Stock up a kitchen first aid kid with burn ointment, gauze, bandages, and antiseptic. You’ll also want to test your smoke detectors and keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
Utensil and knife instruction
While you’ll eventually want to teach your child what each utensil is for, start by cooking recipes together that involve basic ones to get them familiar with handling tools. Cakes are great for learning to use a whisk, spatula, and measuring cup, while rolling pins for biscuits and piping bags for cupcakes make for fun evenings, too.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time for knives. If you’re nervous about your child learning with a real knife, purchase a plastic chef’s knife designed for kids–and they actually cut. Remember to keep your fingers tucked and the tip of your knife on the cutting surface, then start practicing. You can cut up veggies for a stir-fry or a chopped salad.
Small appliance 101
The first cooking tasks many kids learn how to do involve small appliances. They microwave popcorn or toast their own bread, but going over each small appliance in your kitchen with your child while explaining how to use it properly (and what not to put in it) is a must. Other appliances, like the blender and the mixer, can be worked into future recipes where your child can get familiar with them.
Give a stove safety demonstration
The stove is probably the most dangerous appliance in your kitchen and before you even let your child turn it on, you’ll want to go over some stove safety rules:
- Unless you’ve given him permission, he is not to use the stove without you present.
- Do not leave the stove unattended while in use.
- Do not put anything in the oven and then lay down to wait for it to cook. If you fall asleep with food in the oven, it can catch fire which will quickly spread throughout the house.
- Do not leave dish towels, paper towels, food packaging, oven mitts, or anything else that can ignite on or next to the stove.
- Do not leave burners on without a pot or pan on them.
- Do not leave burners running under an empty pan or pot.
- Turn handles to the back of the stove or off to the side.
What to do in an emergency
I mentioned stocking your kitchen with a first aid kit and fire extinguisher, but what good will those safety essentials do if you and your child don’t know how to use them? Go over the instructions for the fire extinguisher with your child. Use this opportunity to teach him basic first aid skills by practicing tending to a burn or cut–because it’s not only you who should know what to do in case of an emergency; these are skills that will make your child feel independent, able to take care of himself–and others.
And, that’s what we really want for our kids, isn’t it? For them to feel capable and confident in themselves.
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- Meal Planning for a Family Raising a Child with Special Needs