It is rare that our children do not like to work right alongside us no matter what we are doing. This is never truer than in the upper preschool age range when our children become more adept at modeling our behaviors. It is a natural progression of this modeling that leads them to want to do and create just like we do. If they have a parent who is handy with woodworking, you will see them often trying to create out of wood, if they have a parent who is a medical professional, you may see them playing doctor. However, almost all parents spend time in the kitchen which naturally leads to young chefs in training. What is the best part about their curiosity in the kitchen? It leads to creativity and when encouraged can lead to a growing sense of accomplishment.
Encouraging your preschooler in the kitchen doesn’t have to be a big ordeal and requires little more than a stepstool so those little eyes can see what is going on. It can require the parent to have patience but there is little about parenting that doesn’t require this asset. Think first about the tasks you are doing and then decide what can be delegated to little hands. Young children learn by doing, kitchen tasks are no different. You may start simply by just allowing them to dump pre-measured ingredients into a bowl as you are making cookies, or you may be braver and allow them to crack the eggs, whatever you feel comfortable doing, encourage them to assist you. This does sometimes make the task take a bit longer, but the education that they are getting simply by watching you and being a part of what you are doing is priceless.
Once you have moved past the initial stages of kitchen help and your little one has a desire to create things on their own you can actually make it a game. Teach your child to be able to discern measuring cups from teaspoons and tablespoons, liquid measure from dry. If this is too mundane for them then move straight to the good stuff. Begin by setting out 3 ingredients that you know may mesh well together and then talk your young one through what they can do with those ingredients. For example, you might set out some vanilla, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. Talk to your little one about how good vanilla smells but how it doesn’t taste good by itself, it needs to be added to other things. Suggest that your chef put a tablespoon of peanut butter in a bowl followed by a teaspoon or two of powdered sugar and then mix the ingredients together. What does it taste like? What if you add a drop or two of vanilla? What does it taste like now? Unbeknownst to your little one they are learning the basics of fudge and candy making. It is simple tasks like this that can encourage our young children to explore and become a bit fearless in the kitchen.
Another option is to open your spice cabinet to your protégé. Start by having them look at a spice jar and tell you what they think it will smell and taste like, then have a try and allow them to taste a bit of dried basil, a few granules of sea salt, then discuss what kinds of food that they like have these ingredients in them. This concept can actually be broadened so much as each of the individual components of our food taste so distinct but when meshed together into a recipe they become something new, a concept that we can apply in so many areas of life.
Our children are like sponges and taking the time to teach them and allow them to create allows the information that they have absorbed to come out in the action of creativity. This is a process of learning that is so invaluable that it is a detriment that every subject can’t be taught in this exact same manner. Give your child simple tasks and they develop a sense of accomplishment, give them license to be creative and they develop more imagination, give them a purpose and you may well see a budding chef flourish before you very eyes. Enjoy this time with your little one, before you know it you will have taught them the skills they need to prepare a family dinner and you just may have worked your way from head chef to Sous chef.
Here’s an Interesting Recipe your 5 – 10 year old can make as a play
FRUIT TRIFFLE PUDDING
Kids love deserts and what better than your 5 year old making a Triffle for you.
- Readymade sponge cake: 1 no
- Vanilla custard
1 ½ cups Milk
3 Tbsp Custard Powder
4 tbsp sugar (depends on sweetness you want
- Jelly Rasberry or Strawberry 1 packet
- Vanilla Ice cream 1 family pack
- Mixed fruits (atleast 4 – 5 types)
(like – Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Pomegranate, Mango, Chickoo, Pear, Strawberries, Kiwi)
- Whipped cream
An adult should make the custard by boiling 1 ½ cups of milk. Add 4 Tbspsugar . Stir Well. Then add the custard powder in a little milk. Stir well. See that there are no lumps in the milk. Pour this mixture in the boiling milk. Keep the gas on simmer and keep stirring till the custard becomes a little thick or batter consistency. Keep it to cool.
- Cut different fruits of your childs choice. He will feel very important because next he is going to be in charge of the dish.
- Jelly can be made as instructed on the packet and kept to set.
- Meanwhile in another bowl take half cup chilled cream. Add ¼ tsp vanilla essence and beat with an electric beater till there are soft peaks of cream. Keep in the refrigerator to chill.
- Now your little one will first crumble the sponge cake.
- Then it should be arranged in a big glass bowl.
- Now spread a layer of vanilla ice cream on it. Alternatively you can also use mango pulp or fruit juice. Just see that the cake does not become too soggy.
- Then spread a layer of fruits . After that pour custard on the fruits. Then add a layer of jelly.
- Then add a layer of the cream which was whipped and refrigerated.
9. Again repeat the whole process of cake, vanilla ice- cream, fruits, custard, jelly and cream. Decorate with glazed cherries or fruits. Keep in the fridge.
You can see the joy of accomplishment on the face of your 5 year old which will be the best thing that can happen in this world.