Have you been wondering at what age your kids can start helping out in the kitchen? What is appropriate and what isn’t for them to do? I have put together a list of age appropriate tasks for kids in the kitchen. This will help you teach your kid how to cook by age.
See my girl? She is 8. Little by little I’ve taught her basic kitchen skills. Sometimes, she assures me she doesn’t like “X” and I tell her that she still needs to help me make the recipe.
Bonus: she can read! She can slowly read the meal plan recipe and help me make our food.
I believe that teaching our kids a new kitchen skill should not be done during bewitching hours. Instead, use the weekends and non rush-hour times. I’ve found that I’m more patient (and not as critical) when I’m more relaxed.
Here is a breakdown of some age appropriate kitchen tasks:
2-3 years old – At this age, kids need high supervision. Focus on basic tasks like setting the table, squeezing lemons, learning to match the silverware as you empty the dishwasher, using the salad spinner, picking the leaves off fresh herb stems, gentle stirring, and mashing potatoes, for example.
4-5 years old – Motor skills are more defined and they can focus better. This is a frustrating age for many parents because many kids will be doing the 2-3 age group while others the 6-7 -it depends how involved and interested they’ve been.
6-7 years old – Fine motor skills are developed so they can take on more detailed work, like using measuring spoons and forming meatballs or nuggets. They still need a lot of guidance and reminders of where to keep their fingers during grating and peeling. Some of the things you can teach them to do at this age are: dicing and mincing vegetables (use a pairing knife and start with soft foods like strawberries), peeling raw potatoes with a peeler, slicing and scooping avocados, greasing pans, using a microplane zester, draining and rinsing canned beans, pouring liquids into containers, and decorating dishes.
8-9 year olds – This is my favorite age group. They can read! They can take on every task prior to this age group and teach new things based on their interest. You’ll have to decide if they are mature enough to work at the stove; but you can start with easy toaster oven type of recipes if not.
This age group can use a pizza cutter and can opener, scooping batter into muffin cups, scraping down the batter and using the stand mixer, putting away leftovers, rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher, pounding chicken, skewering food, make sandwiches and wraps, and chopping most foods (nothing much bigger than a paring knife or small serrated knife).
10-12 years old – This age group can usually work independently in the kitchen. Make sure they have learned basic kitchen skills and moved on up on skill level before they are left to make meals (even under supervision). Rules still apply (and often need reminding) like use mittens and wash hands after touching chicken, can do basic stove tasks like scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes.
One of the questions I’m often asked: what if I haven’t taught my kids kitchen basics in each age group? Don’t stress.
My suggestion is that regardless of when you start; teach with patience and be careful to not talk down to your kids when they are doing it wrong (I’m guilty of this). Talking “down” can be as simple as “let me show you” and… “hurry, let me take over” or as simple as our tone.
If you aren’t “feeling it” then skip the teaching moment. We can do it quicker and avoid any hurt feelings -trust me.
If you’ve got teenagers in the house they can make nearly all the recipes in our meal plans. Win-win.
I want to encourage you to teach your kids one skill each month. Just one.
Cooking along side our kids is a great opportunity to talk about life. It gives us the opportunity to connect and teach our kids about the things we find important (like our food and health).