Monday, January 6, 2014

When the Kitchen Becomes a School House

In an era when children are spending more time inside the home than they are outside, a kid-friendly kitchen is invaluable.  It's a playground for the mind as well as the spirit.  With each recipe you tackle  you can teach your child: math, reading, team work, nutrition, cleanliness, respect, timing, the art of conversation, etc.  The list goes on and on. Taught by you in the  comfort and convenience of your own kitchen.
There's no doubt that the tools of the culinary trade like knives and glass items are dangerous, so safety and cleanliness are paramount when kids are working in the kitchen.  It's a good idea to keep those sharp knives off the countertop and keep anything  glass out of  their reach.   As a child I often worked with my Mom in the commercial kitchen of a large high school where she was the Director of the School Cafeteria as well as their principle cook. There were about 4,000 students in the school,  so I did my share of mashing potatoes and snapping green beans. The concept of fast food was not a part of everyday lunches programs at the time.  There were lots of sharp instruments around so Mom undoubtedly kept an eye on me but in today's world we have plastic utensils.   Plastic (bowls, measuring cups, lettuce knives, etc.) works great for kids.
Designed by
As You Like It Designs
Countertops:  The standard countertop height of 36" can be tricky for kids but is accessible with a stool that has a built- in handle which  allows them to move it around the kitchen.  The better option would be a lower countertop height of 30" which is your standard table height.  Some homeowners resist this idea because they are concerned that it will be obsolete as the child matures but a lower countertop is also advantageous for shorter adults.  It allows your arms to be straight which adds upper body strength when you lean over to roll out the pie crust or open that bottle of wine.    As far as the countertop material goes there are many options:    Silestone, Corian, Laminates, even Granite as long as it is sealed properly and has a rounded top edge or a bullnose edge.   

Hardware: The variety of knobs and pulls for you to choose from for your cabinetry is endless.  There is only one which I've pictured here  that I've heard parents complain about in regard to small fingers getting caught and cleaning.  Getting baking dough out of this hardware is apparently not an easy task.   
 Cabinet Locks:  Locked cabinets are a pain for adults but cabinets that contain chemicals like the sink cabinet need to be restricted .  If possible it would be best to store such items in the garage or a utility room.

Specialty Kids Cabinet:  Kids from ages 1- 3 love to pull out cabinet contents and empty them onto the floor.  For your own peace of mind it's best to just have a base cabinet where their sippy cups, lunch boxes, storage containers and play items can be stored and the kids can easily get to.   Maybe have this cabinet in the kitchen island or as the end cabinet.  It should be out of  the traffic flow pattern if possible. 

Cooktop:   All children need to understand that fire is dangerous and to always be aware of their distance from the flame or the burners or the oven.  If you are remodeling your kitchen then an Induction Cooktop is a great choice.  The heat is retained in the pot, not on the surface of the cooktop.  So, a child or adult can touch the cooktop without fear of being burned.  But remember, the pot will be very hot. 

Faucets:    Young children have a hard time reaching the kitchen faucet yet they need to understand how important it is to wash your hands while working with food.  You don't want to scare them about germs but it's a lesson you can't overlook either.   There are many faucets that have water sensors so you don't have to actually turn it on just either touch it or put your hands under the spout.  It just makes it easier for the kids to wash their hands and for you too when you need to water on  but don't have a free hand to use.  This faucet is also good for any elderly individuals that you may have living with you. 

Fun Stuff:   Young children are in a constant discovery mode so they enjoy learning and they pick things up very quickly.  Things that help their enthusiasm are colors, shapes and specialty items like their own aprons to wear.  Cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes are  excellent.  They aren't just for cookies.  They can be used to make eating sandwiches more fun.  I mean,  wouldn't you rather eat a gingerbread man peanut butter sandwich than one with a crusty old edge to it?  This is where kids can teach adults a thing or two about life.  Another item that's great in the kitchen is a blackboard.  A somewhat vintage idea this can be a great teaching tool for math, reading and drawing.  It can be used for making list and then checking the item off after it is put into the batter or after the task has been completed.  Of course, you can always use an IPAD for this instead but it may get a little sticky.

These are just a few details that need to be considered when designing a kid-friendly kitchen.  There is so much more that could be said about appliances, flooring, hardware, utensils and there is a plethora of  fun items that make the whole experience a fabulous family affair.  And when the meal has been enjoyed make sure the kids help to clean up and hang up their aprons.  

No comments:

Post a Comment