Cooking with Kids: Ages 8-11
In this age range, kids are much more capable of helping in the kitchen. By now, they should be able to understand the general fundamentals of cooking: selecting and storing produce, preparing produce, putting groceries away, reading a recipe, and cleaning up. As they reach the age where they can babysit younger children, these skills are the building blocks of living and eating healthier!
Advanced Food Safety
After understanding how to keep a hygienic kitchen, children should learn other important aspects of food safety. By eight years of age, kids typically have developed fine motor skills and are able to use a knife safely; provided you give them proper training and supervision as well as an understanding of the dangers if handled improperly. They may be intimidated by large chef knives, but you can have them start small with a paring knife or a smaller santoku knife for vegetables.
Teach them the proper way to hold a knife, how to hand a knife to someone, how to properly cut, how to properly walk from the counter to the sink while holding a knife, etc. This post from Eat Your Beets has some great photos for proper knife techniques to show to kids. You can also teach kids the different types of knives and their purposes, depending on the knife collection you have. If you don’t know about knives yourself, this is a perfect opportunity to learn along with your children so you both can be better equipped in the kitchen!
More Advanced Cooking with Kids
With the understanding of safe kitchen practices, kids are capable of managing a pot over the stovetop or helping you when using the oven. Teach them how to be safe when stirring a pot, how to safely add ingredients to a pot (e.g. lowering soup ingredients with a spoon or ladle instead or dropping them into hot liquid and having it splash back on their skinetc.)
At this point, children should be able to follow simple recipes, find ingredients, understand and execute safe knife skills and stovetop practices with adequate supervision, and help prepare most fruits and vegetables for recipes. The more experienced they get, the more they will be independent in the kitchen. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your children while imparting valuable knowledge and telling them about your own childhood experiences.