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Age-by-age cooking guide for your little chef

By HT School Web Desk,

Involving your kids in kitchen tasks from an early age helps in the development of various life skills.

Between 5-7 years of age, kids can mix ingredients with hands and spoons.

It goes without saying that cooking is an essential life skill. The benefits of mastering it at an early age goes beyond your kitchen. Cooking is a form of edutainment that allows your child to have fun while giving him a practice of math and reading skills. Additionally, it helps in neuro-motor development and inculcates healthy eating habits. However, many parents don’t warm up to the idea of allowing kids to cook because it can be messy and a little risky too. Well, the mess is beautiful and as far as safety is concerned, you always have to be with your little one in the kitchen while she tries her hands at this culinary skill. Though there is no age bar, you can initiate your child into cooking when he is 5 years old. At this stage, his developing motor skills will allow him to handle quite a few kitchen tasks. Here is an age-by-age guide for you to help your child grow up into a star chef.  

5-7 years 
At this age, your child can be involved in the following kitchen tasks under your supervision: 

  • Weighing, measuring and pouring ingredients from jars to cups and bowls with spoons 
  • Washing fruits and vegetables 
  • Cutting soft ingredients like butter and mushrooms among others with a plastic or a blunt knife (butter knife can be a good example) 
  • Mixing ingredients with hands and spoons 
  • Tearing herbs and squashing – tearing herbs and lettuce or squashing fruit 
  • Kneading, rolling and shaping dough  
  • Buttering bread  
  • Podding beans and picking leaves 
  • Setting and clearing the table for family dinner 

8-10 years 
At 8+ children can be involved in meal planning. They can take up some responsibilities independently. However, supervision is still necessary to eliminate the possibilities of kitchen hazards like cuts and burns. At this stage, you can include you school kid in the following activities:  

  • Making plans for a family meal 
  • Finding a simple recipe to follow 
  • Peeling fruits and vegetables 
  • Sorting kitchen ingredients 
  • Using a handheld mixer for whisking 
  • Using an oven or a microwave 
  • Prepping salads 
  • Garnishing dishes 
  • Serving food 

12 and above 
When a kids turn 12, they are able to handle complex recipes along with the tasks suggested for 5-11-year-olds. They can even start improvising. At this age, you can allow your tween or teenager to use sharp knives. Here is what your 12+ kid can learn about cooking and other kitchen tasks:  

  • Dividing portions, doubling or halving recipes depending on the number of serving required, adding and subtracting 
  • Learning about ingredients and their origin 
  • Getting acquainted with complex kitchen equipment like and learning to use them 
  • Finding out recipes and following the instructions minutely to create the final dish 
  • Knowing the different texts and textures of different spices and foods 
  • Time calculation for the preparation of various foods 

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