I came across a good article on kids and teaching them to use knives in the kitchen and then *gasp!* actually letting them go at it. There were some pretty interesting statistics about what teaching a kid to cook and to use knives in the kitchen means when the kids gets older, and no it doesn’t mean they can no longer count to 10 without taking their shoes off.
This is the Princess, at 6 years old, helping me can tomatoes. She peeled the tomatoes, then grabbed a razor-sharp chef’s knife and proceeded to quarter the tomatoes and get them ready to can. How did I know she was ready at six to handle a knife? First, she asked. Not the whiny can I have what you have (mom’s you can hear it in your head, right?) No, she asked if she could help me do what I was doing. I spent about 3 minutes showing her how to hold the knife, how to cut with the knife, and how to be safe with the knife. My famous safety lesson on knives is, “This knife is designed to cut meat and it’s really good at it. Do you understand? Yes. Ok, now what are you made out of?” Blank stare. “The answer is meat.” I’ve had children hand me the knife back after that explanation. They weren’t ready yet.
So after that quick demo, I watch her for five minutes and make sure she’s doing it right. Is she taking this serious? Is she playing or working? Is she keeping her mind on her business or getting distracted by her siblings? Any signs she’s not focused and the knife goes on the cutting board till she talks to her sister or smacks her brother. Mom comes in and tells her to do something? Sorry mom, she’s working and can’t, get someone else to do it (that goes a long ways folks, when you’re working your above kid duties and get treated like an adult).
Did The Princess ever cut herself? Yes, not that day but yes. She didn’t even cry (something she’s very proud of and still remembers). Did Bok Bok try cooking later and cut me in the process? Yes. Did either need stitches, a trip to the ER, a blood transfusion? No. If you work in the kitchen enough, you get cuts. You don’t die, and neither will your children.
And of course what could be more long-lasting than cooking not only with mom but with Grandma!
Of course here at Ninja Cow Farm, we care not only about knives and cooking but also about the kids nutrition and wouldn’t dream of letting them actually plan a meal and then cook it. Who knows what kinds of unhealthy sugary things they’d make if mom wasn’t here to supervise, like say if she went to the beach and left the kids and dad to cook on their own. 🙂
So cook with your kids. It’s good for them and good for you. Just remember, safety third!