Teaching Kids: How to Cook

Nannies and Children in the Kitchen

For a majority of nannies, preparing daily meals and snacks for the children is part of their job duties and responsibilities. Depending on the specific nanny and employer agreement, nannies may also grocery shop, plan monthly menus and prepare meals for the family.

As nannies plan meals and snacks for the children, they must take into consideration not only age-appropriate choices, but must prepare meals and snacks in accordance with the family’s nutritional standards, allergies and dietary preferences. In some cases, a family’s religious beliefs will also impact the family’s diet and the nanny must be able to adhere to any food guidelines determined by the family’s beliefs.

As children get older and become more independent, they’ll want to start helping to plan and prepare their own meals and snacks. Nannies can teach the children in their care to make healthy food choices, how to prepare food safely and how to maintain a sanitary kitchen.

Since nannies supervise meal times, they must be CPR and first aid certified and prepared to administer both should the need arise. Nannies
must take proper steps to reduce the risk of choking in their charges. This includes serving age appropriate foods, in the right size, texture and consistency.

Many times nannies offer new foods to a child for the first time they must be vigilant about watching for food allergies and sensitivities. For nannies of charges who have allergies, they must teach them how to select and prepare foods that won’t trigger an allergic reaction.

10 Tips for Teaching Children to Cook

Cooking provides opportunities for adults to teach and reinforce math and science concepts with the children in their care.  In addition to the practical aspects cooking lessons provide, during snack and meal planning and preparation, children can be taught to make healthy food choices. As children become more independent, they’ll be able to help out more in the kitchen and eventually be able to prepare simple meals and snacks for themselves. As you begin to teach a child how to cook, keep these 10 tips in mind:

  1. Let Them Watch You – Because there are so many potentially dangerous situations that could arise in a kitchen, many parents opt to shoo children out when meal preparations begin. Letting children observe you cook is one of the best ways to foster interest and teach by example.
  2. Explain What You’re Doing – If you notice that your child is watching your progress, take the opportunity to explain what you’re doing and the purpose it serves. Older kids may want to know why a step is necessary; explaining as you go along can help them understand that a step can’t be eliminated without affecting the quality of the food or the safety of the cook.
  3. Ask For Their Help – Asking a child to help you with a kitchen task or to hand you implements is a great way to increase their familiarity with utensils and methods. Even toddlers can help stir or add premeasured dry ingredients to a bowl.
  4. Choose Simple Recipes – Starting out simple is the best way to foster a sense of accomplishment and confidence in a child. Even preparing a simple sandwich can be an exciting challenge to a young chef.
  5. Gradually Increase Their Level of Involvement – With each meal that your child helps to prepare, give them a bit more responsibility. When you feel confident that they’re up to the task and interested enough, put them in charge of one particular task; getting butter out of the fridge, tossing the salad or icing the cake.
  6. Ask What They Want to Make – Kids are more likely to be interested and engaged with their cooking lessons if they’re preparing food they actually want to eat. Have them make a list of the things that they’d like to learn to make, and make a commitment to eventually cover each one.
  7. Let Them Take The Lead – After a solid foundation has been established, allow an older child to prepare one meal for the entire family, while you supervise. Let them know that you’re available if they need help, and give them pointers if they’re making mistakes, but avoid the temptation to jump in and take over.
  8. Teach Them the Clean-As-You-Go Method – While adults may not always follow this tenet, it’s still a good idea to get a child in the habit of cleaning up as they progress in order to prevent a chaotic post-meal kitchen.
  9. Explain About Leftover Storage and Food Safety – After the meal, it’s a good idea to explain the importance of proper food storage and correct methods of handling leftovers. Kids should know that leftovers need to be promptly refrigerated in order to prevent food-borne illnesses.
  10. Help Them Clean Up – Doing the clean-up yourself isn’t advised, as it doesn’t teach children the importance of handling their own messes. However, it may not be wise to throw them to the proverbial wolves. Help them clean up the first few times, in order to ensure that things are cleaned thoroughly, put away properly and handled safely.

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