By Daniel Sherwin, solodad.com
While it may seem like the last place you want to let a child loose, the kitchen is actually a great place to teach some lifelong lessons and bond with your little one. Baking and cooking can introduce concepts related to science and math and can teach responsibility; it can also boost self-esteem and confidence, two things many children don’t have enough of.
Of course, there are many safety precautions you’ll need to take. Being safe at the stove and around utensils is the priority, and teaching your child what to do in case of a fire–and how to prevent it from happening in the first place–is extremely important. It may seem like a lot of planning for something that may never happen, but knowing that your child has the right skills and knowledge to get through anything the kitchen may throw at them will give you peace of mind and keep everyone safe and happy.
Here are some of the best things to go over with your child before they begin testing out their chef skills.
Practice fire safety
Talk to your kids about the best fire safety practices. They likely know a little bit about the dangers of fire from school, where they go through drills to keep them safe in the event of an emergency. Think of your time in the kitchen together as a similar form of preparedness and go over the best ways to prevent accidents, such as:
Never leaving towels or potholders near the stove
Knowing where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it
Double-checking to ensure all appliances are turned off when finished
Unplugging cords in a safe way
Never over-filling pots or pans
It’s also a good idea to make sure all smoke detectors are equipped with fresh batteries and that you have a carbon monoxide detector if your stove is gas-powered. For more tips on how to stay safe from fire hazards, click here.
Find kid-friendly recipes
Many recipes require quite a bit of chopping and measuring, so make sure you find some kid-friendly ones to try with your littles. Look for recipes that don’t have many ingredients and don’t require much cutting; when possible, chop up items before you begin cooking and put them in plastic bags for ease of use.
Set up the rules
It’s important for kids of all ages to learn the rules of the kitchen, which will keep everyone safe. This means washing hands before and after handling food, never tasting anything until it’s fully cooked, and using the right tools for the job. Have an assortment of different utensils–plastic, if possible–and make sure all items stay clean and dry.
Make it fun!
Cooking and baking are great ways to bond with your children and teach them about responsibility, but it should also just be plain old fun. Think of some ideas for seasonal recipes and spend some time learning how to wash, chop, and prepare the ingredients together.
Remember to stay patient as your children are learning the right ways to work in the kitchen; things may get a little messy, but for young ones, that’s half the fun. Talk to them about how to clean up after the work is done and keep the area neat and organized in order to start good habits early.