Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post - Cooking Up Some Safe Family Fun in the Kitchen

Cooking up Some Safe Family Fun in the Kitchen
Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: Balanced learning child care developing confident, happy children by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

Preparing a recipe at home in the kitchen is a fun activity for parents and children to share. Not only does a child get to learn about ingredients and cooking, he or she is able to contribute to making a meal for the family. Along with teaching kids about ingredients, cooking utensils, temperatures, and measurements, a cooking activity allows a parent to teach kids about safety in the kitchen. The following are a few tips for parents who'd like to teach their children how to safely and successfully prepare a meal in the kitchen.

First, a parent should sit down and show the children a written recipe. Right away, they will see that a dish requires particular amounts of ingredients. A parent may want to set out a few measuring cups and tablespoons to show the kids how the ingredients are measured. The recipe may have some words that are unfamiliar to the kids. A parent should take the time to explain what they mean. For instance, a child may not know what the words sauté or puree mean. Once everyone has read through the recipe it's time to move on to the next step.

Parents should assign kitchen jobs to each child. For instance, a young child may have the job of measuring a teaspoon of salt and adding it to the other ingredients. An older child could use a spatula to sauté a pan of onions. It's important that each job be appropriate for the child's age and capabilities. While measuring out and mixing ingredients parents can take the opportunity to point out safety considerations. For example, as the older child is sautéing the onions on a back burner of the stove, a parent can point out how the child is keeping his or her wrist away from the edge of the hot pan. Also, if a child spills an ingredient on the floor a parent can stress the importance of cleaning up a mess right away to prevent falls. Furthermore, if the handle of a pot atop the stove is facing outward a parent can move it while explaining the danger of someone bumping into it. In short, these safety reminders can be mixed into the process of preparing a recipe.

There are other lessons that go along with a cooking activity shared with kids. For example, a meal that involves a meat entrée presents an ideal opportunity to teach kids about washing their hands thoroughly. Parents can explain how important it is for someone who handles raw meat to wash his or her hands before and afterward. Parents can teach kids the trick of sneezing into their elbow if they have their hands full of dough or other ingredients and aren't able to grab a tissue. By preparing meals with a parent a kid can learn and practice many good habits.

Finally, encouragement and patience are the two main ingredients critical to a successful cooking activity shared with a child. In the end, the child will be proud that he or she contributed to the nightly meal enjoyed by the family.
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