Monday, 26 March 2018

Why We Should Say Yes to Our Children Helping in the Kitchen

Jerome came into the kitchen when I was making eggs the other day and wanted to help.

I wanted to say no. But then I thought, what is the real benefit to sending him away?

Did some shells get into the mix? Yes.
Did it take longer? Absolutely. 
Was he so proud, when he and his brother were eating the eggs, that he had helped from start to finish? Yes, yes he was.

It Doesn't Get More Practical Than The Kitchen

There are so many practical learning opportunities, many of which we try to fabricate, like sensory play, scooping, and whisking, that are so natural right there in the kitchen. Practical life is such a huge part of Montessori, and, as I have written about before, is so easily attained in the home if we just allow our children to participate in our lives, as Aline D. Wolf wrote.

Having your child help in the kitchen makes more mess, absolutely. But, the way I see it, there will be a mess to clean up, regardless of if they help or not.

A little more mess to clean up is a fair price to pay for the benefits.

Allowing your child to develop skills in the kitchen will positively benefit both of you in the long run.

Now that Jerome can make eggs, for instance, he can be almost independently in charge of making them, even at three years old, as I put a pot of coffee on and do other breakfast preparations.

I anticipate that allowing him to thrive in the kitchen will carry on later in life to having a teenager who is capable of making meals for the family, and a man who knows his way around the kitchen. (And, being married to a man who loves to cook is a huge bonus, let me tell you.)

Not to mention the hand strengthening, the dexterity. The many different tools that require him to use his hand in ways he never would otherwise.

Patience, gentleness. So many beautiful reasons to concentrate, slow down. Quantity, early math concepts like measuring, reading a recipe. Sensory experiences of every kind. Learning different tastes, smells, textures.

Learning to care for the environment, clean up after himself.

The reward of tasting what he has created.

And that is just off the top of my head.

The Kitchen is No Place for a Child, It's Far Too Dangerous

I know a lot of you are thinking this, as I know I was thinking this exact thing approximately two years ago.

The kitchen is, in fact, full of ways for children to get hurt.

Heck, it's full of ways for me to get hurt. (When I worked in a restaurant when Tharin and I were first married, I constantly had band-aids on my fingers.)

Start with what you are comfortable with. Supervise and provide the proper tools.

For example, we did not start with sharp knives. This definitely took some warming up to.

Jerome started learning to use a knife with one of those wavy cutters and easier food items, like cheese slices and banana. Then he used a plastic pie knife for more difficult food items. He has now graduated to his own kitchen knife, and yes, it is really sharp.

{One of Jerome's first knife skills opportunities}

We have taught him how to handle this knife safety, how to hold it, to only walk with it in the sheath, to never put his fingers on the cutting board while he is cutting.

{His current knife, a great little chopper from Ikea}

As with anything, the precautions we have taken with Jerome will be different for each child. Jerome has always been naturally cautious and I am already noticing that Benedict is less so - I walked into the kitchen the other day to find him trying to cut an apple with a steak knife. Yikes.

So what are some of the ways you can start having your children help in the kitchen? Next week I will talk a little bit more about kitchen tasks our kids have loved. Don't miss it, join our email list by clicking on the box below.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would also love to hear any suggestions for posts you would like me to write about. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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