Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cooking with Kids

I don't quite know how to teach my children to love cleaning. I don't know how to teach them to always share, and be kind to everyone. I'm trying, but it's tricky.
But one thing I do know how to teach them is the love of food.
Choosing, cooking, and eating food.

I love cooking and baking. It's a blessing, since I'm a firm believer in eating homemade food. So at least three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), in addition to desserts, breads, and other treats - I go into the kitchen and start cooking.
The boys don their adorable little aprons, and sit on the counter to "help" me.
It takes at least twice as long to do anything, and I have to spend a lot more time cleaning up afterward - but I let the boys do whatever they want to help.  They can stir, sprinkle salt, dump in flour, roll cookies in sugar/eat cookie dough - and when I'm chopping vegetables I give them each a butter knife and they get to cut up playdough on a cutting board.

Here are some pictures from the last week of the boys "helping" in the kitchen. Some days they just eat snacks and watch me cook. Some days they're in charge of adding all the flour to the cookies. 

I want them to enjoy being in a kitchen. I want them to appreciate that when they spend time with their food, it tastes better.

When we were in Uganda, we stayed in a house with several other Americans and had an African cook. She would start dinner, and hand her four year old daughter a knife. A real knife. A sharp, gigantic knife.
That little girl would sit and chop carrots, peel ginger, STOKE THE FIRE. 
And I kept thinking, "We don't even let second graders use forks in lots of Elementary schools in America."

Kids are capable. Kids can grow and understand their food. Kids can cook.
And that knowledge starts at home. It starts with parents expecting more from their children. These day we don't make our kids grow up until they leave for college, but people used to have lots of kids so they could help around the farm or running the home. If our kids weren't capable of doing things until they were 18, or even 12 - that seems like kind of a poor investment...

I don't need my boys to milk cows or do... other farm stuff...
But I want them to know and be capable of at least basic things like making cookies. Like growing tomatoes. And washing dishes.

I want them to be capable at a young age.
The way to do that, is to start teaching them at an even younger age.
And to feed them really good food, every day - even if they won't eat it every time.
And it helps if they have cute little aprons.
Seriously, they look so cute wearing their aprons, that I don't mind if I have to sweep the kitchen 6 times a day.
And actually, they like to help me sweep, too. So maybe I am making some headway in teaching them to love cleaning after all...

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Betsy Hite Reddoch said...

Adorable! I'm thinking of getting my boys aprons for christmas. They've really started enjoying spending time with me in the kitchen lately. I also like your idea of giving them play dough to cut up. You're such a good mom!

-Danica- said...

The teaching to clean (in our house at least) was just as easy and the cooking! When I am cleaning I give her a wet clean rag and she wipes the cupboards while I wipe the dishes (although she usually fights me because SHE wants to clean to dishes instead...) Or dusting is a good one for little kids. And another thing I have noticed is we sing a little clean up song every time we put stuff away (blocks away, blocks away, time to put the blocks away.. etc) and once I start singing that she actually gets kind of excited to clean.

I love the idea of letting them "cut" the play dough while you are cutting stuff. I really need to include her more with cooking! Because you are totally right - kids ARE capable. We just don't take the time to show them how.

Amy said...

Apparently little kids love to do dishes (if you don't mind extra water on the floor). One of my friends posted a preschool dishes activity on her blog that would double up well with play dough clean up.(
Some little kids also get really excited to help fold clothes. When I was little my favorite was skating the kitchen floor clean.

Natalie said...

i love this, i do agree that teaching/including littles some of these things gets lost in this day and age. they are the cutest chefs!

Natasha and Jesse said...

So cute! I let my 2 year old son help me all the time in kitchen as well. It is his favorite part!

I know this is an old comment, did you make the aprons for your sons? Or where are they from? They are super cute!

Becky Pitcher said...

A friend made them for us, but I think they'd be pretty simple to whip up!