Important Lessons for Kids: Cleaning, Safety, and Cooking
Teaching children to cook and use kitchen utensils and tools safely is an excellent way to help them develop confidence, encourage creativity, and learn math skills. For kids, cooking is a mysterious alchemy, something they’ve always watched as their parents created delicious food items for everyone to enjoy. Learning to cook even simple things can make them feel grown up and empowered to try new things. Holidays are a perfect time to teach children to make the kinds of tasty treats they love most, like cookies and peppermint candy. Teaching children to cook sets them on a lifelong path of discovery and gives them an appreciation for cleanliness and orderliness, important lessons kids need to learn as they grow up.
Keep it clean
The first lesson of food preparation is to wash hands and to make sure that what you’re cooking is fresh and clean. Discuss why it’s so important to wash up before cooking, explaining the possibility of passing along germs and making others sick. If you’re cooking in preparation for the holidays, use the example of flu and colds to explain how illness is passed between people and how it can be prevented. Wash your hands together with your children before you set out a single ingredient so they understand and appreciate the importance of cleanliness in cooking.
Childproof the kitchen
Safety is the most important lesson to impart when teaching your kids to cook. And the first thing they need to learn is never to cook unless you’re there to supervise. Teaching your children how to prevent kitchen fires is a essential. Explain how easily fires can start, why you should always have a fire extinguisher nearby, and the importance of keeping smoke detectors in working order. Remember that fire extinguishers can be used in the kitchen for grease fires, electrical fires, and fires produced by animal fat. Teach your kids never to put out a grease fire by throwing water on it and that if it’s not possible to snuff out the fire by using another pot or pan, throw plenty of baking soda over it.
Tool and utensil safety is another important lesson to pass on. Show your kids how to cut away from themselves to minimize the chance of injury, using a cutting board and keeping fingers tucked in. Always carefully supervise the use of any sharp object as well as power appliances. Don’t overlook safety rules that may seem obvious to adults, but which may be new to your kids. For example, children often have no idea that you shouldn’t put anything metallic in the microwave oven or try to get something out of a plugged-in toaster with a metal utensil. Don’t neglect stovetop and oven safety. When it comes to placing baking items in a heated oven, show your kids how it’s done safely, using oven mitts to avoid burns. Make sure they know to let you handle the burners.
Your kids should know what to do in the event of an emergency. Depending on their age, show them how to use the fire extinguisher, and discuss when they should call 9-1-1. Keep a first aid kit handy in case someone suffers a cut or burn, and show your kids how to treat such a wound. Make certain it’s well-stocked with Band-Aids, as well as antibacterial cream or spray. And keep all emergency numbers posted in clear view. Stress the importance of cleaning any wound thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection.
Learning to cook can be an enriching experience for children if approached in the right way. Always begin by emphasizing all aspects of kitchen safety. Most importantly, always make sure that you or another adult is on hand to supervise.