4 Moms: teaching children to cook {linky!}

4moms35kids 4 Moms: Homeschooling in a rotten moodThis week we’re talking about teaching children to cook.  I guess that’s not quite the same as the week we talked about cooking with children, because there is no room to interpret it in a cannibalistic way.  Also, this time we have a goal that goes beyond happy memories: we want our children to actually learn a skill they can repeat without us in the kitchen!

Actually, though, the two are difficult to separate.  When the 3yo is stirring, the 5yo is cracking eggs, and the 7yo is learning to cut in butter, they are learning to cook.  They may not be ready to follow a recipe alone yet, but the skills they master one by one are the foundation for flying solo in the kitchen a few years later.

beth4spoons 200x300 4 Moms: Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity

perry1egg 200x300 4 Moms: Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity

rachael1 300x200 4 Moms: Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity

Of course there’s more to learning to cook than a preschooler spending quality time in the kitchen with Mom.  As they get older, the way they help changes, and they become more independent.  They also learn to clean up their messes as they go, because I’m one of those dreaded clean cooks.  If half of the egg you just cracked lands outside the bowl and the floor is slippery with flour, we’re going to take a break and learn to wield a washcloth.

At first, a new cook just helps with various parts of preparation: measuring the ingredients into a bowl, learning to separate eggs, adding flour and evaluating dough consistency as the mixer kneads, braiding bread dough (a favorite job!), shaping or dropping cookies onto a baking sheet, prepping raw veggies.

When they are ready to try some simple cooking on their own, they usually start with a few household favorites:

  • eggs, fried or scrambled
  • cakes – Wacky Cake is easy and forgiving
  • various quick breads: pancakes, cornbread, banana bread, muffins
  • slushies and smoothies
  • spaghetti

We expect a few mistakes and even some outright failures along the way.  Most creations are still edible even if they don’t look perfect.  If not, this is where the chickens come in handy.  They are unfailingly appreciative of a new cook’s culinary efforts.From there, it’s a pretty simple progression.  Kids who can read are free to try new recipes if the ingredients are in our pantry, and I’ll help as needed until they are experienced enough to work without help.  Less experienced cooks are invited and encouraged to help with more advanced recipes so they can continue to learn.

Of course some kids are more interested in cooking than others, and occasionally I have a conversation that sounds something like this: “What? You don’t know how to make  ___?”  Just like any other area of education, you are going to become aware of gaps.  Don’t panic; just fill them in as they arise.  You’re not bound to a scope and sequence, and you won’t lose your funding if your 11yo still doesn’t know that oats or rice take 2 parts water to 1 part grain.

So to sum it up, to learn to cook, we cook.

The other moms are talking about it, too.  Here’s what they say:

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Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • May 31 – teaching children to cook
  • June 7 – How did you know you wanted/could handle a large family
  • June 14 – Q&A
  • June 21 – How do you keep up your energy?
  • June 28 – favorite freezer meals

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  1. Two parts water? Ahhhh… That explains it!
    Is that common knowledge, then?

    • Kim,
      *I* thought it was common knowledge, but I guess that kinda proves my point. What seems important to one cook/teacher is not even on the list for another, but in the end I’ll bet all of our kids will learn to cook if we’re teaching them.

  2. I am new to the homeschooling journey, but I know learning to cook is an everyone journey. Some kids come food preparation easily while others have to be firmly ushered along the path. Where my oldest is sorely lacking because I simply did not make the time to teach that I should have, my middle child is right where you would expect a 7 year old to be. I am hoping to use cooking to teach Science this summer, that will help fill in the gaps without making them realize I was slacking:D

  3. The linky thing doesn’t appear to be working… I see a box that says the “widget will appear here”….

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