While you’re staying at home with the whole family, you might want to invite your kids into the kitchen to help with food preparation and cleanup duties. But what kitchen activities are suitable for each age group? Read on for our age-by-age breakdown of all the kitchen and meal-prep tasks your kids can participate in right now.
Although it might try your patience — there will be spills! — there are plenty of great reasons to get your kids cooking with you. Participating in kitchen activities can give children a boost of self-confidence and nutritional know-how. Plus, following a recipe can help with reading comprehension and math skills.
When kids get to spend more time working with food and even choosing ingredients at the grocery store with you, they’ll be better prepared to make healthier eating choices. And, in spite of the eventual kitchen messes and cooking mistakes, the extra family bonding time will be priceless.
Cooking is an important life skill, and kids of all ability levels can participate in some way. Food Network contributor Julie Negrin, says, “The main reason I love teaching kids how to cook is that it’s possible to include every single child, regardless of age, special needs or academic abilities. Since cooking is a tactile activity that you can break down into dozens of tasks, each child can take on easy or challenging ones.”
If kitchen tasks are completely new to your child, start them off with the safest and simplest activities. Focus on trying to get them interested in what’s going on. When introducing a new task, show your child what to do, then allow them to try it on their own. “Only step in to help if they are truly struggling,” Negrin advises.
Listen to your little one and observe how they interact with different tools and tasks. You’ll see how your child’s dexterity, maturity, and level of interest serve them in a kitchen setting. Only advance onto the next phase when you both feel comfortable so that neither of you gets overwhelmed.
While you work with your kids in the kitchen, make sure to talk about what techniques you’re using and how they contribute to the final result. The National Institutes of Health also suggests initiating conversations about nutrition and health while handling ingredients together.
Age-related kitchen tasks are a great starting point when deciding how to get your little one involved. But, of course, every child is different — some will be ready for new tasks more quickly than others. Maybe you’ll discover a little chef-in-training or star baker in the family!
There’s a lot that toddlers can do, but they will need to be monitored by an adult in the kitchen. Give them plenty of space to work and opt for large bowls and utensils since they are still developing fine motor skills.
Children aged 2 and up can:
At age 3, children will still need constant adult supervision, especially as they start handling liquids. But this can be a fun time to introduce your little ones to new tactile techniques like kneading, spreading, and sprinkling while you’re preparing family meals and snacks together.
Children aged 3 and up can:
As children enter kindergarten and grade school, they tend to exhibit differences in fine motor skills and maturity levels. Your little one may still work on mastering the previous activities, or they might be ready to take on a few more tasks and techniques.
Children aged 4, 5, 6, and up can:
By these ages, children often have the dexterity and awareness required to take on more sophisticated kitchen tasks. When using sharp objects like knives and graters, make sure they understand kitchen safety. Adult supervision will also be important during this stage.
Children aged 7, 8, 9, and up can:
Once your child has proven to be skilled at all of the previous tasks, they may be ready for more advanced activities. At this stage, it’s crucial to discuss kitchen safety related to sharp tools, raw foods, appliances, and heat sources.
Children aged 10 and up can:
Once your kiddos learn their way around the kitchen, they’ll start to figure out where you keep all the good snacks. Make sure you have a stash of Perfect Kids in the fridge! With seven grams of protein and a yummy cookie dough texture, they’ll make you the ultimate snacktime hero.
Think of Perfect Kids as a Perfect Bar mini-me created just for your little ones. At one-third the size of a Perfect Bar, Perfect Kids is fit for smaller hands and smaller tummies. Each one contains eight superfood ingredients, gluten-free oats for an extra dose of dietary fiber, and our signature organic peanut butter.