One of my goals as a parent is to teach all of my children every aspect of running a household, with the aim that by the age of around 14 they would be able to independently manage their own household if necessary. I will not expect them to actually be doing all of it at once by that age, but they will have been fully trained in all areas to a point of competence; something I’m sure their future husbands and wives will appreciate.
What does that look like now? Each child has their own personal responsibilities (chores) that contribute to our family. Personal care and general cleanliness, emptying dishwashers, hanging wet clothes, cleaning toilets and the like. Young children start on the easiest jobs and move on to the next level of responsibility as they are able.
Each child (bar the toddlers) also spends time in the kitchen with me; sometimes one-on-one and sometimes all three at once. They learn how to read a recipe, measure ingredients, make a range of meals and baked goods and assist with general meal preparation. I try to give them experience in preparing everyday food as well as special occasion food.
By 5, my eldest could make a batch of muffins completely independently (bar putting them in the oven). He had learnt step-by-step how to read a recipe, take out the ingredients and equipment, measure and mix, spoon into pattypans and tidy up after himself. The girls were not quite at that point by the same age, partly due to reading skills not being at the same level and also due to me not having as much time to spend with them teaching the skills. They do however love to cook and are learning the same valuable skills, albeit a little slower!
Ideas for the youngest:
- wash the fruit and veggies
- feed pieces into the food processor or juicer
- collect ingredients
- stir mixtures (you measure, they tip in)
- peel easy veggies like carrots
- cut with a butter-knife (thin sticks of fruit, cheese or veggies into cubes or smaller pieces)
- pull tops off cherry tomatoes and strawberries
- tear lettuce for the salad
- share ingredients onto dinner plates for a meal (great for counting practice)
- roll mixture into balls (biscuits, meatballs etc.)
- thread fruit, veggie or meat cubes onto skewers
- dip chunks into flour, egg or breadcrumbs
- taste test recipes (my children’s personal favourite!)
With several little ones underfoot I dislike any recipe for visitors that has to be made just before serving. I would much rather do the work ahead of time and enjoy spending time relaxing rather than in the kitchen.
Cooking is a skill that every adult should have and it is a saying in our house that “anyone who can read can cook.” We may not all love to cook, but we can all learn to do so to the point where we can put a nutritious meal on the table to bless our family and others. Pull out those cooking books and get cooking!
Filed under: Recipes, food and hospitality Tagged: | chores, cooking with children, hospitality, household management, kids in the kitchen, managing large families, teaching children to cook, training children for adulthood