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Old 10-21-2009, 09:34 PM   #21
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In reality,I started with my children as soon as they were able to crawl. That is, I started teaching them about hazards and how to obey me, and that it was important to obey me. I'd have the charcoal grill going and let a solid bed of charcoal get very hot. Then, I'd pick up the child and place his/her little hand in mine and move it close to the fire. I'd know when we were too close both by the heat level on my hands and the fact that they'd begin to squirm. I'd let the heat become uncomfortable, but not dangerous. Then I pulled both of our hands away, point to the appliance and say "hot" firmly. I'd then move their hand, again in my hand, close to the outside of the barbecue. Again it would be uncomfortably warm. Again I'd pull away and say "hot!" firmly. A couple times in one session and they learned what "hot" meant. After that, whenever I told them something was hot, they would stay away from it. And I never told them something was hot that wasn't.

Some who saw me do this thought I was being cruel and skolded me for it. But not one of my children ever had to endure the pain of a serious burn. Nobody taught me those lessons and I learned them the hard way. I have some substantial scarring on one shin due to 2nd degree burns, and I never wanted my children to have to suffer that pain. It was almost unberable.

In the same way, my kids learned to understand that when I warned them that something was dangerous, care needed to be taken.

My kids learned what sharp was by age four, and were cutting with butter-knives by age three. They learned the mechanics of cutting, and by age six or seven, were at home in the kitchen helping dad with mixing, simple, supervised cutting chores, measuring and so on. The key was that they learned that knives, stoves, pans, etc. were tools. This was impressed upon them and they then didn't use them as toys. They had toys and knew the difference. and since they were familiar with the kitchen tools, curiosity never led them to experiment with them when we weren't in the kitchen with them. In short, we could trust them to be safe, at least in the kitchen. Now that's not to say that they didn't fall out of a tree or two. But even there, the falling skills that I learned in Judo, and taught to them saved them from serious injury. You can't give your children enough knowledge. The more you give them, the more you increase the chance that they will not have to learn hard lessons through experience. Of course, a few knocks in life are required too, but not one that will maim or injure.

They are all now accomplished cooks in their own right, and very creative in the kitchen. We also had a lot of fun and could experiment and try things, because they knew I was straight with them. I didn't exaggerate danger, and tried not to minimize it. They witnessed me cutting myself a few times due to carelessness, and so didn't have to learn it the hard way. I do remember my youngest daughter nicking a thumb a couple of times though.

To me, that's a parents job, to teach skills, and to guide children with love, letting them progress at their own level, and trying to encourage without pressuring. I have four children, and they learned at different speeds. They also each had their own strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to recognize those and to help them overcome the weaknesses while developing their strengths. And sometimes, you get it right, and sometimes it brings a few tears and some frustration, to both child and parent. But if you try, and honestly make an effort to understand each child, the rewards are beyond measure. Plus, you gain a trust, and a bond with your children that can't be shaken. And let me tell you from personal experience, there is nothing more fulfilling in life than to see your children grow to be responsible, happy, adults who love you and are friends with you. I have that, and wouldn't trade it for anything. I know too many parents who are estranged from their children, and generally it's because they put too much time into their careers, or their own personal life, and not enough time into loving their families. To me, there is nothing more heart wrenching. You see that lien at the bottom of my posts? That's my creed. It's what I live my life by. Put your family first and it will come back to you a hundredfold, and that includes not only your children, but your husband or wife too.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- http://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:04 PM   #22
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Old 10-23-2009, 12:42 PM   #23
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My son loves to help. I don't let him as often as he asks, however. He likes to stir, flip pancakes, he wants to crack the eggs but I wont let him yet.
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Old 10-23-2009, 03:42 PM   #24
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I started out helping Mom with the clean up chores when I was 3-4, cooking with my grandmother when I was 5, was cooking supper on my own for the family by 12. My sons were always in the kitchen with me from about the time they could walk - they also helped with grocery shopping and watched cooking shows on PBS every Saturday with me - gave us something to talk about when trying to plan a special meal and shopping for the ingredients to make it ... kids will eat a lot of stuff they might not otherwise touch if they have been a part of shopping and making the meal. My kids were not picky eaters and would eat just about everything with the exception of smothered liver and onions, I can't eat that stuff, either.

Both of my sons wound up as kitchen managers in a restaurant, until they decided they wanted more out of life.

My granddaughters (15 and 11) are a different story ... they don't help in the kitchen, they don't help shop, and they are as picky about what they eat as any kids I've seen. The only time I've seen them offer to help, sometimes, is when their mom is making cookies.

I think kids should be made a part of shopping and cooking just as early as possible with age appropriate jobs. The meals can be a fun opportunity to teach a little math with measuring, geography, a little about other cultures, and where food comes from and how it is grown.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
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Old 10-24-2009, 04:27 AM   #25
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My kids started when they were 3 with playdough and then real mixtures.
Make sure they understand issues with hot pans and ovens sharp knives and scissors, its a good way to teach them safety BUT always supervise them.
Shopping for ingredients encourages an interest in healthy food
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Old 10-24-2009, 11:36 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
I'd say as soon as possible. I was three when I started out cutting out Christmas cookies, while standing on a stool. I've always loved cooking. My sister didn't come into the kitchen much at all as a child, and finally as a Sr. she loves cooking, but it took a long time.

I notice with my nephews and nieces that the ones who are encouraged early have all developed an interest in cooking.

I don't remember when I started handling knives, or the oven, but there are so many tasks children can do in the kitchen without getting close to knives or ovens.... peeling carrots, potatoes, etc. When I was little, there were many more scratch jobs (like shelling peas) than there are now.
I think that kids can do a lot more than people give them credit for, and encouraging them to cook tends to wean them away from the pop tarts and chicken fingers.

When I have guests with kids who show an interest in being in the kichen, the menu includes homemade bread and ice cream. Even very young kids can make these from start to finish with the help of machines. Bread in a machine involves only measuring and setting the timers. I have a couple of Donvier ice cream makers. There are a lot of recipes which do not involve custard. Again, only measuring and turning the handle.
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Old 10-24-2009, 11:46 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
I think kids should be made a part of shopping and cooking just as early as possible with age appropriate jobs.
I couldn't agree more. When my kids wanted brand name soda (unnecessary) and snacks (unnecessary), I chose no soda and no snacks. When they started spending 'their own money', they made choices of none or generic soda and snacks. They also learned that buying in bulk doesn't always make sense, sometimes the generic peanut butter in small jars and brand name in small jars makes more sense per ounce as well as tuna in smaller containers, there is no one rule, that works for every situation.
I taught my kids to shop by price/ounce, we at times carried a calculator, now it's mostly on the price label.
Besides, my eyes started to fail at age 40, and I'd forgot my glasses, though, they could read the labels.
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:00 AM   #28
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I don't have kids. I am not married either. But I have seen my cousin sisters helping their mother out in the kitchen. One of them is 14-15 years old and the other one is just 9 years old. The younger sister does not help in cooking as such but helps in serving the food. The elder sister can cook some dishes and is still learning.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:48 AM   #29
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Since my 13 yr. old son is in a home ec. class this quarter in school I included him in Thanksgiving dinner by having him make the dessert. He made a pumpkin gooey butter cake that was out of this world (thank you Paula Deen), and because he had missed a few days of school the week before he had to cook something at home to make up for a missed assignment, so I get to critique and he gets a grade.
Finally things have started clicking for me, my knees, my elbows, my back, etc...
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:36 PM   #30
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If I had kids yes! We cooked as a family and it is a major part of my sister's and my life. It is also how we keep our traditions alive and our memories. It is also good for reading, measuring (math science) direction following etc.

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