Want to share some quality time with the kids but you've used up your repertoire of activities? Consider cooking together: not only is cooking fun, but you can incorporate the basics of science, math and sensory perception; Best of all, you end up with a final project (dinner, lunch or breakfast) that can be healthy and wholesome.
PARENT TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THE KITCHEN:
- BE PATIENT! Focus on the fun and forget the mess!
- Don't worry about the finished product being perfect - kids will feel a sense of accomplishment just in seeing what they have created.
- Discourage complicated, multi-level recipes that require accurate measurements and preparation skills.
- Give children a sense of responsibility. Let them know you trust their culinary expertise. Encourage creativity and praise their efforts!
- Emphasize cleanliness! Teach children about germs and bacteria that can affect food without proper food handling methods.
- Don't say "NO" to knives. This will only make the temptation and fascination greater. Teach children to hold knives properly and start by chopping soft foods with a serrated plastic knife.
- Read the recipe with your children before they start.
- Encourage healthy alternatives to sugar-filled treats.
- Cover kids with extra-large t-shirts or aprons so YOU don't have to worry about ruining good clothes.
- Include kids in planning and shopping process when possible. Have kids contribute ideas to weekly menu plans and grocery shopping list.
- Encourage sharing in all aspects of cooking...that includes CLEANING UP!!
- Don't get hung up on the mess or cooking will soon become a chore rather than a fun activity.
- Stick with age appropriate skills - stirring and scrubbing for 3-6 year olds; measuring, beating, and cutting soft foods for 6-8 year olds; opening cans, microwaving, and preparing simple dishes for 8-10 year olds; oven usage, cutting with supervision, and grating cheese or vegetables for 10-12 year olds; and multiple ingredient recipe preparation for 13-16 year olds.