Food plays a huge part in our everyday life, and is ingrained into our culture. It’s no wonder children are naturally attracted to what happens in the kitchen. For some, this could be an overwhelming experience with sharp knives, hot stoves and other places for our child to get hurt. However, with some easy techniques we can turn the kitchen into another rewarding skill for our children. The Montessori program teaches children to get dressed themselves, clean up after themselves and the kitchen is another opportunity to promote independence. Lessons in the kitchen help refine neurological processes, increase muscle strength, increase muscle dexterity, and improve hand eye coordination. Food preparation also gives our child a chance to give to others and provide an invaluable connection to their community and family.
“Influenced, perhaps, by my early experience at a Montessori school… I am all for encouraging children to work productively with their hands…. It is good to give them knives, for instance, as early as you dare…. to slice a hard-boiled egg neatly and then to fillet a fish. Talk to children as you plan menus. Let their small, sensitive noses sniff the fish as you shop.”
Here are some ideas that might your food preparation a little more enjoyable for you and your child.
– Allow for plenty of time! When you invite your child to help you in the kitchen, make sure you have ample time that you can relax and both of you can do things and enjoy the moment together. It might take a little patience and practice for you and your child to get in a rhythm for a working partnership. Most importantly, BE PATIENT!
– If you think your child has good coordination, teach them to peel carrots or cucumbers. These can easily be peeled, and are relatively cheap, if there are accidents.
– Teach your child to set the table. You can get your child to take plates/utensils from the kitchen one at a time or use a basket to carry utensils.
– Get them to wash vegetables or fruits. Place a colander in the sink for your child to use. Have them wash your items
– Let go of perfection! As adults we are used to things being perfect, when working with a child this always isn’t possible, spills happen. If the recipe isn’t followed in a strict manner it’s OK, the point of them helping you that the process is both enjoyable for you and your child. For this reason try simple recipes with minimal ingredients.