Yes, little kids can help in the kitchen: An age-by-age guide

If you want to practice Montessori at home, you don’t need to start by purchasing expensive materials or rearranging your living space. The reason? Chances are, your kitchen is already full of Montessori-style learning opportunities! That makes this the ideal space to start incorporating Montessori practices—or just to involve your child. 

Your child has likely been watching you perform in the kitchen since a very young age and is eager to join you. Yes, it can feel overwhelming to set your child loose in the kitchen. But, with some preparation and age-appropriate tasks, you may have yourself the perfect sous chef.

Here are some age-appropriate ways you can invite your child to help in the kitchen.

Tasks for 1- to 3-year-olds in the kitchen:

Although this age will require the most supervision in the kitchen, there is still quite a bit they can do. Keep in mind the Montessori practice of quality, child-sized materials when providing your child the tools to complete their kitchen tasks.

Age-appropriate activities:

  • Mixing ingredients
  • Spreading on crackers
  • Basic cutting
  • Peeling fruit
  • Pouring in ingredients
  • Pouring drinking water (requires a low pitcher)
  • Setting the table
  • Squeezing juice
  • Wiping up spills
  • Using small broom and dust pan

Tasks for 3- to 5-year-olds in the kitchen:

As your child gets older and their fine motor skills improve, there are more ways they can help in the kitchen that will actually take some of the work off your plate. Many of these skills build on each other and will require numerous attempts before your child has mastered the skill.

Age-appropriate activities:

  • Measuring ingredients for baking 
  • Following directions with photographs
  • Putting away groceries
  • Washing fruits/vegetables
  • Loading and unloading dishwasher
  • Kneading dough
  • More advanced knife skills 

Tasks for 5- to 7-year-olds in the kitchen:

By early elementary years, many of the things adults are doing in the kitchen can also be done by children, it jussometimes may require some modifications. Keeping kitchen tasks fun and achievable should foster a love of cooking in your child!

Age-appropriate activities:

  • Reading recipes
  • Use of kitchen appliances with supervision 
  • Preparing simple meals on their own
  • Hand washing dishes
  • Most adult tasks with slight modifications 

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