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Cooking with Children: A Recipe for Kitchen Safety & Fun

Piper is having fun stirring up the Friendship Cookie dough!
Piper is having fun stirring up the Friendship Cookie dough!

Bubbling pots, sizzling skillets and delicious smells can make the kitchen a fascinating – yet dangerous – place for young children. Unless precautions are taken, young ones can get hurt.  The potential hazards don’t have to keep children out of the kitchen. Dr. Gloria Julius, vice president of education for Primrose Schools, says kitchen time can be a great way for families spend valuable time together.

“The kitchen is a place for learning and sharing, where the family can enjoy quality time. Children can also develop a sense of responsibility by sharing in daily tasks,” says Dr. Julius.

Parents can keep the kitchen safe and fun for children by following this simple recipe:

Engage your child meaningfully. Think about what tasks your child can do independently. Completing simple jobs like mixing batter, rolling dough and measuring water can boost a child’s sense of pride and accomplishment. Tearing lettuce, adding sprinkles to sweets and shaking parmesan onto pasta are other safe, satisfying tasks children can easily accomplish. Even very young children can get involved – give them some pots, pans and wooden spoons so they can pretend to cook with you or use them for music-making. The tuneful accompaniment will let you know they’re safely engaged and give them a way to feel like they’re helping, too.

Set some ground rules. Children need supervision when they’re in the kitchen, so establish a list of basic safety rules and make sure children are always within sight. Young children can start measuring dry ingredients before moving to liquids.  Teach children to wash their hands before and after handling food to avoid spreading germs. Discuss on a regular basis what’s safe to touch and what’s not. Make sure the handles of pots and pans are turned inward on the stovetop so you and older children don’t accidentally bump them and spill hot liquids or food.

Build up skills step-by-step. Children can develop many essential skills in the kitchen, such as following recipes or counting slices of bread. For more advanced skills, start slowly and have your child master easy tasks before attempting harder ones. Teach older children to use a knife by starting them off with cutting soft items like cheese and cooked noodles with a dull spreader. As your child’s coordination develops, they can move on to slicing or sawing vegetables and fruit with a plastic knife.

Keep it fun. Cooking can be messy even without children, so don’t stress over the “oops” moments. If the cookie batter ends up on the floor instead of the baking sheet, offer some guidance and let your child try again. You can make cleaning it up fun, too!

When your meal is complete, be sure to compliment your sous chef on a job well done. Offer them the first taste of whatever you cooked together and ask them what you should make next time.

To learn more about Primrose School of Five Forks, visit our school campus at 3030 River Drive in Lawrenceville, www.PrimroseFiveForks.com or call 770.985.0028. Bon appétit!

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