Elementary School Chef?

From Stacey Seybold Hiller, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and Owner, Dream Dinners of Indianapolis, IN.

As parents, one of our most crucial responsibilities is to create independent adults.  Too often however, we leave some of the most fundamental teachings until the very last minute.  For example, how old should a child be when they start to learn how to do the laundry, or cook a simple meal?  Children as young as 8 or 10 years old can learn all the basics needed to cook the family meal.  Begin by asking them to help you prepare a meal once a week or so.  Let them become familiar with the language and equipment of cooking.  Teach them the safety basics. Once they have developed a competency with these skills, have them help you actually plan the meal from the very beginning.

  • What should we have?
  • Is this a healthy mix of foods?
  • What do we need to purchase at the store?
  • How much of each ingredient do we need?

After your child has completed these tasks with you, they are ready to start on their own!  Have them plan one or two meals a month for the family.  It may not be gourmet, but the sense of satisfaction and pride that your child enjoys will be better than any five-star meal. An even simpler method is to include them in meal assembly at Dream Dinners, then let them pick out and cook the meals at home.  By the time they are ready to live on their own, cooking will be second nature, and be one less “new” skill they will have to learn during that transition period.


  1. Ruthann Tobiason says:

    My girls are 19 and 16 and we’re still teaching/reinforcing healthy eating. It’s hard sometimes, especially when I recall how 6 slices of cinnamon toast was much more fun than a piece of fruit. (Yes, I would have a glass of milk, but only to wash down the toast.) For the most part, they humor me a little, listen politely and occasionally tell me they eat better than their friends.

    With junior high and high school came teaching them reponsible independence and letting them “fail” under the safest circumstances possible. Still working on this, but so far so good.

    Hope to see more about growing independent adults.

    1. Yes – here’s to growing independent adults! It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m happy to hear your girls have had such a good influence when it comes to teaching healthy eating. Thanks for your comment!

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