Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In the Kitchen: Teaching Kitchen Safety

Today I'd like to introduce a new series of posts. Over the course of the next few months, the girls and I will be working in the kitchen. We'll be learning to safely use different kitchen tools, learning new skills, learning about nutrition, and other fun activities designed to get us in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy "In the Kitchen"! 


The girls have always loved to help me in the kitchen. They love to make cookies and smash the avocados when we make guacamole. But, before they began spending a lot of time with me in the kitchen, it became essential to teach them some basic rules to keep them and me safe in the kitchen. 


Why is kitchen safety important?
  • It's the first step in learning an important life skill.
  • It allows more independence in the kitchen.
  • It keeps mom and dad more relaxed when little helpers are in the kitchen.


Safety Skill #1: Never Touch a Sharp Knife! At 5 and 3, the girls are still too young to use a sharp knife. I keep things simple by restricting their use. It's easy in our kitchen, because all of our sharp knives have similar black handles. They know that if they see that handle, they are not to touch the knife. Even if a sharp knife is in reach, they know to leave it alone.


Safety Skill #2: Hands Off! Stoves are HOT! The girls have been taught to never touch the stove when it is on. We don't rest our hands on it, lean on it, or touch it. We also don't lay anything down on top of it or touch a pan sitting on the stove. In order to show them just how hot the stove is, they watched me quickly melt butter in a pan. With this lesson learned, I am able to supervise, but not hover, while the girls are stirring something on the stove. (*Note: I don't walk away when the girls are by the stove, but I do feel comfortable enough to reach for the salt or a spoon if needed)


Safety Skill #3: Always Stand Away From an Open Oven. When it's time for an adult to open the oven door, the girls step back a few feet. They are too far away to touch anything and it also gives mom or dad room to work. I let them come closer one time to feel the hot air coming from the oven. Now, they walk away without being asked.


Safety Skill #4: Always Wash Your Hands Before You Start Cooking. We always stop in the bathroom before working in the kitchen. Clean hands are essential for food safety. I've taught this skill by example. The girls have watched me time and time again wash my hands before cooking or after handling such things as raw meat. We learn more about this safety skill every time we work in the kitchen.

These are my top 4 kitchen safety rules that I find essential to teach before allowing the girls to work with me in the kitchen. Obviously, these are not the only kitchen safety rules; we learn more each time we are in the kitchen. But, these have instilled confidence in the girls and have made our experiences in the kitchen much more fun and rewarding. If you've been hesitant about letting your kids help in the kitchen, these rules are a perfect starting point. 

Have fun "In the Kitchen" with your kids!
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