When working with a child in the kitchen, there are a few considerations that need to be taken into account.
A comfortable work surface: This can be a low table or a kitchen helper/learning tower kind of solution. We have both because different tasks require different surfaces. You can see both at use in this video.
Order and organization: Children like routines and order. One way to mark the start of work in the kitchen is to use an apron and require hands to be washed. For us this lets him know that we are about to make something and it helps him to “get in the zone.”
It is also important to do some preparation in advance. I would have the ingredients and utensils already out and ready (if possible arranged in order of use) for a really young toddler. An older child can help bring out the ingredients and utensils but again this should be done before the food preparation is started. Once they are in that zone, you don’t want to be looking for some baking soda or the right spoon and break the focus.
Child Sized Utensils: These are so important. The child is doing real work and so he needs real utensils in his size to be effective. Some basic ones to start with are: Colander, potato masher, crinkle cutter, whisk, measuring cups and spoons, pitcher, wooden spoon, chopping board and bowls. Slicers for fruits, eggs and a juicer are also great.
Consistent Process: The best activities to start out with are those ones that occur frequently in your household. For us, it is washing tomatoes and other vegetables, making almond milk and egg preparation (omelettes or boiled).
Once you have decided on what activities to start with, think about the steps and consider how to what steps the child can help with in the beginning. Try to come up with a consistent process since the child learn through repetition.
Start Small: We started with him handing me items. I would set him up beside me and ask for a tomato. He would hand it to me and watch me slice it or “please hand me an egg.”… he would hand it over and watch me break it. Next came pouring dry items like flour or almonds and then pouring liquids. When we first started pouring liquids, we used a very small pitcher. It meant the spills were very small and easy to clean up. It also required a lot of repetition. To pour 2 cups of water into the blender, he had to pour 8 or 9 little pitchers of water. This repretition led to perfection and also helped with his ability to concentrate.
Little Pitcher: http://instagram.com/p/tcAZ_epbj0/
Accidents Happen: Remember that it is through this movements and actions that the child becomes coordinated so expect accidents, spills and the unexpected. Don’t make them a big deal but instead use it as an opportunity to teach the practical life skills for cleaning up.
I hope this answers someone’s questions about starting out. Join the conversation by adding any tips or questions to the comments.
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