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If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that kids love getting their hands dirty.
They have just as much fun making mud pies in a back yard “kitchen” as they do making a more-edible yogurt parfait.
It’s a great idea to get kids working in the kitchen, even at a young age. The more you teach kids about good nutrition, the more likely they will be to make a habit of healthy cooking. Another bonus — cooking provides math, literacy and science lessons that are guaranteed to be fun!
Working on a recipe together gives adults an opportunity to teach kids about cleanliness. Thoroughly wash hands, utensils and work surfaces before starting, and make sure kids know not to sample food before it’s cooked.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides an excellent breakdown of tasks kids can safely handle in the kitchen by age:
3-5 year olds
Young children love helping out, but need very close adult supervision since their motor skills are still developing. Teach these youngsters the importance of washing produce and using clean appliances and utensils.
6-7 year olds
Most 6-7 year olds have developed fine motor skills, so they can handle more detailed work, but they will still need food safety reminders.
8-9 year olds
There is a wide range of skills in this age group, so tailor your tasks to each individual's maturity level. Teach the importance of wiping down all surfaces and refrigerating perishables, such as eggs and milk, within two hours.
10-12 year olds
For the most part, kids ages 10 -12 can work independently in the kitchen, but should still have adult supervision. Before letting these kids do grown-up tasks on their own, assess whether they can follow basic kitchen rules such as tucking pan handles, unplugging electrical appliances, using knives and safely using the oven or microwave.
Age-appropriate tasks (with adult supervision):
Get cooking! Browse our Healthy Driven recipes.
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