Use These Steps To Teach Your Children To Cook
A Great Investment
Teach your children to cook and you have helped them develop a skill they will use for the rest of their lives. There might even be a few fringe benefits in it for you, as well. But let's not even hint to the children that learning to cook might actually be educational. It might make them suspicious!
Don't worry if you are not the world's greatest cook. We always learn more when we teach than when we are the student anyway. Just be willing to look up the answers to questions and prepare a little bit before cooking sessions.
Start your children in the way you intend for them to go. First let them know that when they cook, they have made an obligation to clean up afterwards. That's part of cooking and they are not done until the kitchen is restored to its pre-cooking condition.
The next step to instill in your children is that they must read the recipe thoroughly before they begin. They should make sure:
- they have all of the ingredients
- they have all of the needed equipment
- they have enough time to finish the dish
- that the recipe makes enough and not too much for what is needed
After that, help your children assemble all of the ingredients and equipment. Now they are ready to begin cooking.
I suggest that you start off with a recipe that does not actually require cooking for the very first attempt. Making smoothies, no-bake cookies, or a beverage could all be good choices. These help your children practice their measuring skill, one of the first skills they should develop.
Show your children how to measure different ingredients. Introduce the tablespoon versus the teaspoon. That may be confusing for some time to come especially if your children are young.
- Stir flour, spoon it lightly into the appropriate measuring cup, and level by scraping the excess off with the flat edge of a butter knife.
- Pack brown sugar into the measuring cup until you can turn it out and it still holds its shape.
- Cut butter along the guidelines on the paper.
- Use a liquid measuring cup for liquids, place it on a flat surface, and get down on eye level with the cup to take the measurement.
As you move on to dishes that require the use of the stove and oven, try homemade cookies.
- Do not allow children to taste dough with raw eggs in it (we used to do it but chicken health was simply better back in those days).
- Use a scoop with a squeeze handle to make drop cookies much easier.
- Have children wash their hands thoroughly after cracking eggs.
- Draw attention to the importance of pre-heating the oven AND turning it of when they are finished.
- Emphasize safety and do not allow younger children to place or remove cookies from the oven.
Ask questions from time to time. "What do you think it means to 'bring to a full boil'?" "Why do you think it is important to stir constantly?" These questions will help them process the information better and retain it.
As your children progress and are old enough, allow them to try new recipes on their own. Encourage creativity and exploration. You may be surprised. My son is exploring smoothies these days and we are all enjoying his efforts.
The most important thing to remember when teaching children to cook is to accept their efforts. Rejecting their food can be interpreted as a rejection of themselves. Let them know it is okay to mess up. That's how we learn best. But then, it is also important to try to figure out what went wrong and learn something for next time.