How young is too young for cutting in the kitchen?
I’m sure it is different for each child, but at 3 1/3 years old, I’ve found that Jemma is more than ready for simple cutting tasks. Not only did this project give her practice in knife safety, it has allowed her to tune some fine motor skills and contribute with dinner preparation. It’s a win win for us all!
Here’s what you’ll need to begin a careful cutting lesson …
- A sturdy chair or learning tower
- A no slip cutting board
- A knife for little hands, our serrated butter knife works well
- Fruits or veggies, something firm, but not hard — celery, bananas, zucchini, etc.
- Small prep bowl for collecting cut pieces
Set up your cutting station and review cutting guidelines. Only use a knife when a parent says it is ok, knives are only used in the kitchen, never point a knife at a person or animal, knives stay on the counter/cutting board and watch out for fingers.
Next, show your child how to begin cutting. Talk through each step while they watch. Then, do it together. Allow them to hold the knife and place their fruit/veggie on the cutting board. Show them the cutting motion. We said, “down, saw and push” as we cut. Then we’d set the knife down, pick up our cut piece and place it in the prep bowl.
Then, you watch while your child demonstrates what they’ve learned. Encourage them along with non-praising phrases like, “I can tell you are focusing very hard on this job!” and “I love spending time with you in the kitchen – it’s fun to work on dinner together!”
During our first lesson in cutting, Jemma cut all of the celery for our Paleo Buffalo Chicken Soup. I was so impressed with her concentration and technique. Little ones are capable of so much when given the guidance to achieve new things.
Ready for more Montessori at home? Try your hand at pouring water next!