Do you ever dream of the day that your child is able to bring you breakfast in bed?
It’s never too soon to give your children independence and autonomy in the kitchen and the best place to start is by teaching them to make you breakfast in bed, or at the very least, their own breakfast.
I know, I know, this idea is a little scary, I expect you’re envisaging your five year old son slopping boiling hot water from a tea cup onto his arm, sticking his fingers in the toaster and wrecking your new kitchen worktops?
Am I right?
Well, hear me out, here is why I think breakfast is not just the best start to the day, but it’s also the best start to your child’s repertoire of cookery skills and life skills in general.
If your child can prepare their own breakfast in the kitchen:
- It will help them to be more independent
- It will help with the rush in the mornings before school
- It will provide an excellent basis for further cooking skills
- Your child will gain confidence
- Your child will gain a renewed respect for the other work you do in the kitchen
preparing food for the family.
- Your child will experience a huge sense of pride and satisfaction.
- You may just get a lie-in one day
- You may even get served breakfast in bed!
Where to start?
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, we can’t expect a full English in one day either, however, I urge you to watch this video of 5 year old Sam who I taught to make a smoothie about 5 minutes before we made this film.
We made the smoothie once before the film and then Sam independently made the smoothie himself – there are no cuts in the video (I don’t know how to do this yet!). I hope you’ll be impressed, I know I was!
I also taught my daughters in the same way, and they are able to make their own smoothie each morning.
Some tips to get you started
- Invest in a cheap and cheerful, simple smoothie maker like the one featured in my video. It makes single servings or double servings and that’s it. The vessel the smoothie is made in is the vessel you drink it from. Alternatively a hand blender in a jug does the job as well. Both of these pieces of equipment are easy to clean – a vital requirement in the early morning pre-school rush – I think you’ll agree!
- Make sure you train your child on correct grips when cutting fruit and vegetables. The two main grips are Claw and bridge. I’ll be writing a blog on these shortly. Watch this space!
- Any fruits you’d use for a smoothie are usually soft enough to be cut with a normal dinner knife. No sharp blades needed – this allows your child some independence. Alternatively buy frozen fruit packs from the supermarket and store these in your freezer. Mangoes are lovely in a smoothie, and you can even buy sliced avocado frozen which makes smoothies really creamy. Mixed berries are lovely too!
- Teach your child how to clear up after themselves. You decide your expectations on this one. For me it simply is to wipe down the side and put any dirty equipment next to the sink. This is of course age dependent.
Teach your child how to do it, watch or be in the background for the first couple of times and then embed it in your daily routine. A smoothie is an excellent start to the day especially for children who can’t stomach much for breakfast early in the morning.
You don’t have to limit yourself to smoothies either:
Toast is easy and spreading butter / spreads is a great way of practicing fine motor control. Make sure you teach your child never to put their fingers or any implement into the toaster, and obviously you are the best judge to decide at what age your child is able to be trusted with this task alone, however there is no problem with them doing it whilst you are in the same room.
Cereal can easily be served, eaten and put away with minimal or no supervision, sometimes it just takes some simple instructions and monitoring the first couple of times and then once your child has mastered it you’ll be so pleased. One tip with cereal is that if you buy milk in the huge 6 pint bottles, you may need to decant it into a smaller jug for your child to use more easily. This can be done the night before and stored in an accessible position in the fridge.
There are numerous other breakfast products that can be pre-prepared for you child to help themselves to including mini fritatas, muffins, granola bars and equally many more that can be prepared together with your child. However I’ll save these for another time.
These are some very simple tasks you can start your child off with. They are an excellent foundation for other learning in the kitchen. Through these you can teach your child some of the fundamentals of good kitchen management and basic cooking skills such as clearing up after themselves, washing hands before cooking. Being safe, and handling equipment safely.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions and see photographs of breakfasts your child has created. I’ll leave you with a picture of the breakfast my daughter Mary surprised me with one morning when she was 7 years old.
Initially it was served with the grapes down the centre between the two slices to make it look like a butterfly. Sadly I can’t lay my hands on the first picture right now, but at the time I was so touched that she’d put so much thought into it and it taster all the sweeter to me for that reason.