Whenever I share E and V assisting with picking up glass, stirring near the stove, or cutting up veggies with their own knives I always receive messages saying that I’m brave. That they (the parent writing me) don’t see themselves ever being comfortable letting their child do such tasks for fear of injury. There is often the follow-up of concern. Concern that their child will miss out on learning to do such things.

Here’s the thing:

One–Safety comes first and you know your child best. What they are capable of and what they are ready for, not just physical skills but emotionally and mentally, too.

Second–Observing IS taking part, it’s actually one of the most important aspects of learning. We demonstrate and our child watched us. They see the steps we take and in what order. They see the precautionary measures we take to ensure safety, such as safety glasses and gloves.

Whenever I introduce new materials, they observe a presentation. If you don’t want your child to touch the broken glass, explain what you are doing while you go through the stops and the reasons. Don’t want them stirring the pot on a stove? How about removing the pot from the stove for a moment so they can take a turn stirring for a moment.

Third–Take baby steps and find others ways to include them until you are ready for them to do the other things. When E and V were too young to stir, we would talk about how the stove and pot are hot and watch the steam, even placing our hand, ever so carefully, over the pot to feel the heat rise. When they were a little older, but still not ready to stir over the stove, they would grab and hand me the items that go into the pot. While the steps may be 1, 2, 3…sometimes you need to do 1, 1.5, 2, 2.25, 2.5….until everyone is ready, and that’s okay.

Ask questions, like, “What should I do next? Where should I hold the knife?” It’s another way for them to participate in the activity and provides you both the opportunity to see when they are ready.

Find alternatives you are comfortable with. For instance, nervous about the wavy knife? Start with a wooden one first.

You should never feel pressured to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing. Never!

When you do feel comfortable and your child is ready, then provide the opportunity.

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