Introducing your kids to baking can be a life-altering experience for them. If they enjoy it, they may just take a shine to this creative activity. A bad experience, on the other hand, could leave them avoiding it. Hence, familiarizing your children with the oven needs to be done carefully.
Many parents feel baking with their kids is an opportunity to bond with them, as well as a chance for the children to pick up a new skill. Although they will be messy, parents will have to be empathetic towards them and understand that they are learning.
Working with kids may slow down the task in order to ensure efficiency. Here are a few more things you need to keep in mind:
(a) Be patient. They won’t get everything right. Give them time, take it easy, and stick to baking in small quantities. Ensure you’re in a good mood.
(b) Allow room for mistakes for there will be many. Think of it this way – the more mistakes they make, the more they will learn. Give them tasks as per their abilities and guide them well.
(c) Make it a point to be calm and cool throughout the activity, and not get perturbed by recurring mistakes. There’s a high chance their baking will not be perfect. The food may be lumpy, burnt, or uneven. Take the experience with a pinch of salt and have fun instead.
Contemplating introducing your children to the art of baking, but wondering where to start from? Here are some useful suggestions.
Decide in Advance
Plan your baking activity as much in advance as possible to be prepared to deal with the eventualities. You can involve your kids by asking them what they would like to bake with your help. Once that is decided, start looking up recipes, ready your grocery list, and shop for the ingredients.
Planning well in advance will help you get a lot of prep work out of the way so that the rest of the activity can take place smoothly.
Make sure there is ample room in your kitchen for you and the kids to be able to work efficiently. If there isn’t, think of another place where you can work with them. The dining room may be helpful here.
Choose Simple Recipes
Keep things simple to start off with. Don’t set lofty expectations and try to reproduce your mom’s perfectly baked blueberry cheesecake and expect it to be just like the one she makes. It is better to try simple recipes like easy-bake cookies, brownies, and snicker doodles.
If you’re working with very young children, it may be a good idea to bake only with the intention of having fun, rather than think about how the final product will turn out. Just focus on how you can make it more fun.
Read through the Entire Recipe
Because you’ll be working with kids, you will have to ensure that you’re in control at all times. One of the best ways of doing so is reading the recipe you’ve selected from top to bottom before starting work on it.
Doing so will eliminate the possibilities of unwanted and unpleasant surprises during the course of the activity. Plus, if some prep needs to be done the previous night, you’ll be on track with it.
You’ll be abreast of exactly what equipment or ingredients you’ll need and at what stage of the preparation.
Baking can turn out to be a great way of teaching your kids about personal hygiene. Teach them the importance of washing their hands before they begin working with the ingredients. Let them know that doing so keeps germs to a minimum.
Buy them aprons and ask them to put them on to protect their clothes and give them that ‘home-baker’ feel.
Do spread a plastic tablecloth on the kitchen table to keep it clean and prevent it from hot utensils, water, scratches from knives, and so on.
Assign Baking Tasks
Depending on your children’s age, assign them certain baking duties.
(a) Children around 3 years of age can be assigned tasks such as washing, shaking, spreading, mashing, and hand-mixing ingredients.
(b) Children between 5 to 10 years of age can be allowed to use a blunt knife to chop certain vegetables and fruits, crack eggs and separate the whites from the yolks, open cans, grate cheese, roll dough, and read out recipes.
(c) Children over 10 years of age can do almost everything, but you are advised to supervise them when they use sharp knives and hot ovens.
Keep All Ingredients Ready
By this I mean, keep them ready on the kitchen countertop. Doing so helps you in two ways:
(a) You can make sure that you actually have all the ingredients.
(b) It makes things simpler and faster when you have the ingredients measured out and assembled in one place.
Always observe the following precautionary measures when baking with young children:
(a) Teach your kids about the importance of following certain basic safety practices to keep risks at bay. Doing so calmly will ensure your kids don’t become fearful of baking, but respect it.
(b) Make sure your kids use sharp knives, graters, hot oven or the stovetop only under your supervision. Make sure they develop the habit of using oven mitts and potholders which fit their tiny hands snugly.
(c) While it is important to keep tasting the food when it is being prepared to ensure a good balance of flavors, do not let your kids taste anything that has raw meat or eggs in it to keep the risk of salmonella, e-coli, or other such diseases at bay.
Clean up after You’re Done
Be sure to clean the kitchen after you’re done with your fun day of baking. You can get cracking once you’ve placed the raw material in the oven to bake. By the time the finished product comes out, your kitchen will be back to looking spic and span.
Baking is a fun activity in itself, which your children are sure to enjoy, provided you keep things simple and guide them well. With your help and preparedness, your kids will surely become expert home-bakers in no time. Keep baking and having fun!