Tips for teaching children how to cook

Be involved to monitor every step of cooking and give children room to ask questions. STOCK PHOTOS

What you need to know:

CULINARY LESSONS. Children are always curious about everything in their surroundings and as such, they are always asking questions. There comes a time when you want your child to learn How then do you teach them especially cooking? PAULINE BANGIRANA finds out from different parents.

Growing up, my mother and grandmother taught us, (the girls), how to cook the hard way. There were no questions asked and all we did was watch and learn. I was scolded whenever I was preparing matooke. With time, I dreaded preparing it with my mother because she quickly pointed out how the banana leaves were not folded properly. I can now make a meal perfectly. How do you introduce your child to the kitchen and guide them without worrying that something will go wrong? Some parents share tips on how they do it.

Joan Namubiru, a mother of four, says she would call her children and explain to them how to prepare food. “I peeled the matooke and placed it in banana leaves as they watched,” she says. Namirimu says when she noticed that they had mastered the basic steps, “I forged a trip to a friend’s home and I intentionally delayed to return home. I, however, left instructions for them to prepare food.”
On return the children had prepared the food. With time, she says they became better at cooking and preparing meals.
Involve them
Clare Ahabwe, a mother of three, says you can teach children by asking them to assemble various ingredients. For instance, you can send them for onions, tomatoes and even instruct them to wash the necessary utensils.
Ahabwe says she told her daughter that cooking is ‘our thing’. This helped the two bond; as such, they share stories. “With time, you can let them help out with doing the simple things such as boiling water and, frying an egg . When they show interest, involve them but keep them safe from kitchen accidents.” Ahabwe shares.

Always cook when they are around and answer their questions. When a child asks, do not send them away when they show interest. For instance, explain why when cooking you use cooking oil and not milk or seasoning with salt instead of sugar. As a parent, always start with the simple foods, depending on the menu that guides your household.

Encourage them
For Christine Najjuko, “During school days, I’m always away and return home late. However, it is the girls who make the meals.” Najjuko notes that the food prepared is not always the best but she eats it anyway and thanks them for cooking.
“Eat the food gladly with them and show them that it is tasty. This way, you are encouraging them to keep trying and make better meals because they want you to enjoy your meal than the previous day. Najjuko, however, notes that she points out what can be made better and asks them to always pay attention when it is her turn to cook. “I always tell them that they their food should be better than mine although they feel that mine is the best.”

We all take time to learn. Do not expect your children to learn how to make meals in one day. Maimuna Asiimwe says parents ought to practise patience while teaching their children how to cook. Asiimwe says food always got burnt because they were unable to regulate the heat. However, her mother never screamed at them nor beat them for that. Thus, patience is paramount when teaching youngsters.
Even when you do not like what they do, smile and correct them to build their self-esteem.
“Whenever we would be having lunch, she would always say that reducing on the charcoal and using more ash will help prevent the food from getting burnt,” Asiimwe shares. This she says has helped her to date because she rarely cooks food and it gets burnt. Above all, let the teaching be fun. Children should know that cooking is fun and interesting.

• Make it fun by trying to explain to them each and everything about the chore process. In case they have any questions, answer.
•Create an activity board with rewards: You can reward them with stickers and also set a target score that earns them a day free from chores, a trip to the cinema or even money. This will get them interested in doing the different activities available.
• In case they are less interested, don’t be tough or constantly threaten to punish them because it only drives them away.