Yesterday Jenna asked what age-appropriate jobs might be when having kiddos help out in the kitchen. I’m going to cheat and consult a few pre-made lists, because I’m not the expert here. What my kids actually do doesn’t match up in all areas, and that’s fine and normal. These are only guidelines. Do what works and what your kiddo is ready for.
My kids have all helped stir pancakes, muffins, cookies, marinades, etc since they were able to stir and follow simple directions like, “Stir slowly.” For my oldest, that was when she was 17 months old. Somewhere I have a picture of her sitting on the counter around that age, helping stir muffins.
grab a printable by clicking above!
2 years: Stir, help pour things into bowls. Put away some dishes if they can reach a shelf. We keep a small microwave cart in our kitchen and store all the kids’ dishes and spoons and forks there. That way, they can help themselves to cups and plates and things when we are getting ready for meals, and they can help unload the dishwasher. It really does work. They love it. My toddler currently loves to trash it…but hey. Soon enough he’ll be helping, too.
3 years-4 years: Begin measuring dry ingredients, clean veggies and fruits, peel carrots (yes, it’s true! Wait a year or so if you want, but my kids peel carrots by age 4) and if you’re brave/your child is good with directions/good with fine motor skills, you can let them cut things like bananas and other soft fruits and veggies. My 4 year old helps cut mushrooms on a regular (when I use mushrooms) basis. This crew can start learning the microwave with help. Cleaning duties: unload dishes and help wash/rinse dishes by hand, wipe counters and tables, wipe the floor.
5 years: Measure wet ingredients, turn on the mixer, more cutting practice. More use of the microwave. Maybe learn to turn on the stove, if you feel so inclined. Wash and rinse dishes by hand more often. They can also do a better job on cleaning tasks now, since they’ve been practicing.
6 years-7 years: Mix like crazy–add dry and wet ingredients, whisk things, turn on the stove, stir at the stove. Learn to scramble eggs, maybe. Kids of this age are capable of lots of things, but whether or not you think they are up for the task is another issue. Learn to use the blender and make smoothies. Give this age a bit of freedom when you can. My oldest at age 7 was making up her own smoothies and starting to record recipes. (which means 2 recipes) Kids feel empowered when they can create and record their own ideas, and that feeling of ability and accomplishment will go a long way!
8 years-9 years: This crew should be solid readers and understand fractions. They can certainly read a recipe and measure on their own, stir, turn the stove on and off (supervise, of course! No need to get carried away with the trust and end up with a horrible accident.), learn to use the oven and put things in the oven as well as take them out.
10 years-12 years: These kids can start really testing the waters of independence. Try to have them bake muffins, start to finish. Cook pancakes. Do all the prep for veggies, and steam or roast them. Follow more recipes and prepare them independently. My personal goal is to have my daughter able to prepare a full simple meal on her own. Maybe it will be pasta and veggies, or eggs and pancakes, but I want her to be able to do one meal, solo. By 12, this is probably a great age to have kids able to toss a meal into the crockpot, cook rice, and know how to make soup.
13 years until leaving the house: Do it all. Learn more advanced techniques like preparing a pan sauce, using the grill, preparing yeast breads, improving knife skills to dice and mince foods.
Now. This is not exhaustive. There are too many skills to put them all neatly into age groups, and kids all learn and improve at different ages. You are the teacher here, so you decide when is best for your child to learn these skills. And heck, here I was all this year saying to my 9 year old, “I want you to cook dinner when you are 10,” and I am pretty sure we’re not there yet (she turns 10 next month). It’s OK. Just keep working together and enjoying the process, enjoying the meals you prepare together. With this, it is the process as well as the goal that matters. ENJOY the process. And remember, patience, safety, wine, and laughter go a long way to having fun together. Oh, don’t forget to sample, eat chocolate chips from the bag when you’re baking cookies, and lick the bowl if you want. 😉
Grab a printable of the list by clicking the image above!