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Most parent know that kids are only too eager to join in with helping out in the kitchen but kitchens can be dangerous places for kids, so you have to be careful when encouraging them to join in.

One of the jobs that kids can help out with is laying the table ready for the family meal – in fact making a child solely responsible for this is a great way of introducing them to regularly helping with household chores.  However, knives and forks are sharp, so make sure your child is old enough to handle them safely and that you’ve taught him/her the correct ways of carrying these items.  Rather than have your child walk around holding the knives and forks ready to lay the table – why not put all the cutlery onto a tray that he can carry to the table?

As a child gets older, he/she can begin to help with the clearing up after meals.  The youngest can be responsible for putting the condiments away while older kids are quite capable of clearing the dirty dishes away into the kitchen.  Stacking the dishwasher can be a regular job for kids, as can helping with the washing up by drying or putting away.

Of course, the fun part of having kids in the kitchen is when they can actually join in with the cooking.  As parents you’re probably aware that cooking with kids can be hard work – there always seems to be so much more cleaning up to do.  Making muffins or fairy cakes is always a popular activity with the kids and they’ll often beg to have a cooking session when you really can’t face the thought of the major clean up job afterwards.

If the kids are asking to cook and you really don’t want all the mess, don’t dismiss their pleas out of hand – there are ways of letting the kids ‘cook’ without total disarray in the kitchen.  Why not consider a sandwich making session?  Your child can choose a selection of fillings and he/she can do most of the cooking here without too much help from you.  Buttering the bread and then spreading on cheese/jam/peanut butter will keep your little one occupied.  Then comes the job of cutting the sandwiches into halves and quarters – all great pre-mathematical activities that will have them learning fractions as well as how to cook. 

Another great idea for the kids that doesn’t involve too much mess is icing biscuits.  You can use bought biscuits (Rich Tea or Digestive should be fine) and let the little ones mix up some icing sugar in a few different colours.  Decorating the biscuits is a great creative activity – spreading the icing is great for developing hand-eye coordination – and don’t forget a selection of sprinkles to jazz up the biccies ready for a great family tea time treat.

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