It’s never too early to have extra hands in the kitchen. From unloading the dishwasher to planning a family meal, helping kids master a few basic life skills will teach them how to be independent and to appreciate where food comes from. Plus, it’s kinda awesome the first time they make their own cereal on a busy morning. Keep reading for all the kitchen tasks kids should master before they’re 10.

photo: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

Age 2 & up

Clear their own plates. A two-year-old can easily grab her plate and bring it to the kitchen.

Unpack the groceries. When you set your grocery bags on the floor, expect eager toddlers to want to join in the fun. Especially if you have a shelf designated just for them.

Wash fruits and veggies. Step right up to the sink toddlers and preschoolers, your fresh fruits and veggies need a quick bath before you dig in!

Mix the cookie/cake/bread batter. This is an easy task that’s also great sensory work! You can even give your toddler their own “bowl” and ingredients to mix.

photo: Chris Caravello via Flickr

Age 4 & up.

Make a healthy snack. Simplify your after-school snack routine with a little help from your crew. Preschoolers and kindergartners can prep easy foods like toast, hard-boiled eggs, or fruits and veggies while they debrief about their day.

Tear veggies and herbs. Have the kids help you prep the basil for pasta, or shred lettuce for the salad!

Read a recipe. Put the “if you can read, you can cook” adage to the test with your beginning reader. Once your sidekick has the basics, let him read a favorite recipe while you two whip up a meal together.

Use measuring cups and spoons. Insert a covert lesson on fractions while cooking with your grade-schooler. Before you know it, she’ll be leading the math pack at school.

Load or unload the dishwasher. This easy task is one even four-year-olds can do, and not just because it’s right at their (ground) level. Pulling out silverware or dropping it in baskets will be their new helping-hand fave!

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Age 6 & up

Grating cheese. Hand over the block and let them give it a go.

Set the table. This is a simple chore that also encourages the important tradition of family meals.

Prep skewers. From veggies to meat or even fruit, this is a fun task for your budding chef.

Use a stand mixer. Your grade-schooler can pour, sift and mix up his favorite batch of cookies using a stand mixer, without too much supervision, around this age. Waistlines, beware!

photo: Tim Pierce via Flickr

Age 8 & up

Use a knife. The best thing since sliced bread is your sidekick doing the slicing. Around second or third grade, let her carefully cut up fruits, veggies, bread and more so you don’t have to.

Boil water. Teach your second or third grader this gateway kitchen skill and before you know it, she’ll be cooking up pasta, hard-boiling an egg and steaming broccoli—scratch that—green beans while you prepare the main course!

Pack their own lunches. Grade-schoolers who’ve practiced slicing and dicing can make their own sandwiches, cut their own fruit, pack their own yogurts and snacks.

Plan a meal. Sit back and breathe easy, your kidlet’s got this one. Once he’s ten, he can plan the family dinner and write out the grocery list too! Driving to the store … well, that’s up to you.

—Allison Sutcliffe



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