Articles : Using Food to Inspire Your Children in the Kitchen
Using Food to Inspire Your Children in the Kitchen
By Liz Krause
A child does not have to go away to cooking school in the efforts to encourage their culinary skills and interests. Instead, it can start right in your own kitchen — all it takes is a little creativity. Here are a few tips which can help you encourage your child in the kitchen, thus producing long term benefits which will help them later in life.
1. Assign Responsibilities
A great way to help your child become familiar with cooking is to start with small responsibilities. Examples would be chopping vegetables, peeling potatoes, etc. Other responsibilities could be simply helping to mix ingredients in a bowl or for assembly in a pan, such as when making the layers for a lasagna. Remember, whenever using sharp tools, make sure to provide proper supervision and coaching for proper handling.
2. Pick a New Recipe a Week
Encourage participation from the beginning by involving your child in the decision making process. Each week set aside some time to look through various cookbooks and let them pick out a new recipe they want to try. Then go to the store together and purchase the required ingredients. This gives the child a sense of ownership over the whole cooking project. When you prepare the dish with them and serve it at the table, give credit to your child. This will lead to self confidence and a positive self image.
3. Watch Popular TV Chefs
To help keep inspiration alive, do what is done in so many areas of life — look to the experts. Start watching popular cooking shows together, and discover which ones your child enjoys the most. You can even see if his/her favorite chefs have their own magazines or cookbooks. Watching the experts is a great way to learn new techniques and recipes.
4. Go Shopping Together
This does not have to be all the time, but when your child comes along on your shopping trip, involve them in some of the actual decision making. This way the child doesn't feel like they are simply tagging along, but rather a valuable contributor. This is also a creative way to show that the opinions of the child do count — just remember to give in every once in awhile.
Long Term Benefits
There are many benefits to these methods of encouragement in the kitchen. These benefits will hold intrinsic value over the years which may not be recognized immediately, but will be something your child will in future days look back upon favorably.
1. Building Relationships
Naturally, as long as there is not constant bickering, your time together will encourage and grow your relationship with one another. Remember that as with any relationship there is always a give and take. Make sure to listen to your child's ideas and suggestions, even if they are not particularly to your taste. Teach them that cooking is a creative process which allows for trying new things and testing new ideas. Some ideas will work and some will fail — but that is okay because it is all part of the process. Spending time like this in the kitchen helps develop a mutual respect, outside of the grounds of homework and chores.
The kitchen is a great way to improve math skills without ever feeling like homework. When it comes time to double a recipe, or cut it in half, or by a third, have your child sit down and figure out what the measurements would be for each ingredient. This is a great way to practice addition, multiplication and division, and fractions using real life applications.
3. Self Sustainability Skills
One of the best skills you will be teaching your child is the ability to take these cooking skills with them later in life as they venture out on their own. This is particularly helpful during college years when most kids rely on fast food to fill their stomachs. Many do this because they do not know how to cook on a budget. By teaching your child at an early age a good number of low cost fulfilling meals such as pasta, macaroni and cheese, or even meatballs with sauce, you are helping them be prepared as they head out into the real world.
Spending time in the kitchen with your children is a creative way to build memories to cherish, and skills which will last a life time. You never know, it may help stimulate the creative juices in you as well! •
© 2010 Liz Krause. All rights reserved.
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