What Tools… What Age?

Every parent wonders when their child is ready to start using kitchen cutters and peelers !

 

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We all will have to address a child’s natural interest in the variety of shiny 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. Look at the attached photo – and for a moment try to think like, well– think like a child. Curious, Inquisitive. This looks like a fun location to explore doesn’t it? Kids will naturally look shiney treasures as items that need to be explored. And why not. Play is the work of the child! It’s up to us– as caring adults to teach and to keep them safe.

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? 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. However, without the proper training those tools can also be hurtful to small hands.

When making your determinations on what to teach- when, 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. Children that are same age but physically larger will be working on motor skills as oppose to maybe a child who happens to be working on cognitive development. Don’t judge toddlers. Everyone learns at their own pace and ends up at the finish line at the same time anyway. Follow the child’s lead and your…”in the moment teach point” will soon surface.

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, potatoes and cucumbers.

Teens 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. Always teach the children to make a round surface flat and then cut from there. Example: Round onions- cut in halves, place flat side down on cutting surface and begin cutting from there. Celery, lay on the flat side instead of the curved side.

Make sure all your knives are very sharp. If by chance (and let’s hope not) someone does get cut a cut from a sharp knife the cut will not be as bad as one from a dull knife.

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