What tools, what age?
Slow Parenting– a new world that seems to have the fast-forward recently into the New Year!
It’s a new trend that’s emerging and has taken aim at the multitasking parents who are scheduling classes on the cell phone while dropping the kids off at dance school. This year make a family agreement …Instead, use the idea to slow down, discover the important activities and take the time to concentrate on those. Share time as a family – more quality and less quantity!
The idea has been credited to author Carl Honore whose book, “The Power of Slow” served as the impetus of the slow parenting movement. Slow Parents keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together. Honore says: “Slow parents understand that childrearing should not be a cross between a competitive sport and product-development. It is not a project; it’s a journey.”
At Kids Culinary Adventures we think it all sounds as if everyone needs to just get back around the kitchen table! This year make a designated day each week to prepare a meal together! And allow the kids to be a part of the journey. When you’re in the kitchen with your child, how often do you find yourself pouring the flour, dumping the spice, washing the bowl… and before you know it, the child has just had a chance to watch, or stir! Of course, it is only natural for us as parents to drive these skill sets, as they were driven for us. Spending slow parenting time in the kitchen will be a rewarding experience for your whole family.
Here are lists of items that can help you get started this new year; please remember… as adults we view the world differently. In the kitchen we all will have to address a child’s natural interest in the variety of shinny small wares we have in the drawer. Because we use peelers, mashers, and cutters in our home kitchens on a regular basis, children will naturally be curious about them; parents and caregivers look at that overstuffed utensil drawer as something that fulfills a purely functional purpose. But what does a child see? Well… now that’s different! Through the eyes of a child that over stuffed drawer looks like a toy box full of fun gadgets, and this can be dangerous, and while slow parenting in the kitchen implies us to allow a child to do for themselves; it doesn’t mean to leave them unattended with hot or sharp kitchen materials.
Given the right equipment and an opportunity to use it correctly, your child will be able to manage peelers, paring knives, and other kitchen gear with surprising dexterity and confidence…but, only with the proper training; those tools can also be hurtful to small hands. Also, when making your determinations, keep in mind every child is different. You should make the decision based on the child’s ability to focus, their desire to learn, and their dexterity. A child should always be supervised in the kitchen but allow them to take the task, unless you see danger ahead!
Children under 7 years old should be given tasks of measuring, additions of ingredients stirring kneading or mixing ingredients by hand, shaping dough, spreading, mashing, shredding or tearing herbs and lettuces. Shucking peas and legumes; shopping, test tasting, and cleanup.
Children 7 to 9 can handle peeling tasks. Guide a small hand with your own hand at first. The more often they hear, “Always peel away from your hands, not toward them,” the better. Have them peel over a paper towel for easy clean up.
Children 11 and older are usually ready to begin using a paring knife. While peeling vegetables with length like carrots help keep their hands and the peeler further and further apart from one another. Start this age group put with vegetables that offer a little less resistance, and are easier to cut, such as zucchini and peeled cucumbers.
Kids 13 and older can use larger knives and tackle more challenging cutting jobs. Even though these kids show more dexterity keep an eye on them. Usually this age breeds confidence which will lead to increased speed…increased speed which can lead to cuts. A gentle reminder to slow down is often the best way to keep someone on the right road. Make sure all your knives are sharp. If by chance, (and let’s hope not) someone does get cut a cut from a sharp knife the cut be as bad as one from a dull knife. Keep your cutting board on top of a damp towel to prevent it from moving and always work clean, it’s safer.
Welcome to the New Year… May you hurry up and slow down!
Kids Culinary Adventures