Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cook's Helpers

(c) 2012 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com

We've started a new thing here at the House of 42 Doors.  It's summer, you see, which means the girls and I are around the house & each other pretty much ALL DAY LONG.  We've got swimming lessons in the morning for now, and tumbling for one evening a week for 6 weeks, but that's it.

Do you know what happens when kids get bored? They bicker.  They whine.  They fight.  They get a TEENY bit annoying...even to their loving mother.

Now, I'm definitely all for letting them figure out what to do to entertain themselves much of the time, 'cuz boredom isn't all bad!  But all these hours DO allow for a lot more opportunities. Opportunities for them to learn some responsibility, some household skills, some LIFE skills.

One of those opportunities is getting to be "Cook's Helper."  I think strongly that if you eat, you should know some rudiments of cooking!  The girls have been alternately responsible for table-setting for a while now, but this is a new evening responsibility (aka chore).   

And they LOVE it! 

Sure, we're still a bit in the honeymoon phase, but while one child takes care of setting the table, the other is my assistant.  They get to wash potatoes (with a rubba scrubba),  cut up tomatoes (with a real, sharp knife... and a little more help for the 5 year old than the 7 1/2 year old!), wash lettuce and rip it up into bite-size pieces, choose between two different noodle dishes, cut up almost a pound of mushrooms, run out to the garden to get specific herbs, etc.  Heck, my 5 year old turned two carrots into carrot ribbons with a real vegetable peeler today!  

I'm right there.  I'm supervising.  I explain and demonstrate the task as needed, and I watch like a hawk at the beginning to make sure it's suitable and that I haven't misjudged the child's abilities, dexterity, or carefulness.

But you know what?   

They take it so seriously.  This is real work.  This is a genuine job that needs doing.  They respect their tools (especially the sharp ones) and use them with care.  They are so INVOLVED with their task.  My 5 year old spent probably 20 minutes carefully cutting up almost a pound of mushrooms with a butter knife.  (And then she thoroughly enjoyed eating them sauteed in butter with a sprinkle of salt!) 

They are learning so much - cooking skills, refining their dexterity and fine motor skills, gaining experience with unusual vegetables from our CSA, respecting potentially dangerous yet useful tools, and being contributing members of our household.

Yup, I think "Cook's Helper" is here to stay!



Kashka said...

Great idea. It doesn't get to show much, but I spent most of my time as a kid with Mom in the kitchen. Which once led to the following exchange, as recorded, by my own mother, in my baby book:

Me: If you say please, I will help you.
Mom: If you say please, will you go away?

Julie Jett said...

Tell Mr. Kluges I miss his posts on the blog House of 42 Doors. I too live in the Midwest, central Illinois, and just bought a 1910 Victorian farmhouse. I've learned so much from the old house blogs. I love your house and reading all your stories. The raised flower beds turned out great!

Anonymous said...

cooks helper is a wonderful thing
I wish my mom had done that when I was little instead of telling me that I should do homework and she would do cooking
not much of a cook even today

pippasmum said...

I love cooking with my kids. We started when Pk was about 18 months and it's been a tradition ever since. Sometimes, especially when I am grouchy and in a hurry, it can be frustrating but the kidlets love it and I remind myself that they will actually be able to do something in the kitchen when they leave home.