Instead of keeping her out of the process and away from helping, we've decided to include her. I located Pampered Chef's My Safe Cutter. Retails about $4 (highly recommend this product and you may be able to find something that works for less, I just happened to be invited to a PC party and made the obligatory purchase, you know what I'm talking about).
This serrated knife is sharp enough to cut through apples and potatoes, but can still slice through breads and tomatoes. Look, I sound like an infomercial! Someday, I would like for her to learn how to properly slice and dice vegetables and fruit with a chef's knife, but for now, she's able to use a sawing motion to cut. Since we've had it, she has a new found fervor for meal prep. She will eagerly slide her stool in position, set up her cutting board, and go to town. And she follows the rules well.
- The knife never leaves the kitchen, ever.
- No walking/running with the knife.
- Only cut food with the knife.
- After use, the knife gets placed by the kitchen for us to clean it.
- When we remove it from the dishwasher, the cardboard sleeve goes back on.
- Place it in the drawer designated for the knife.
Preparing the foods isn't the only thing that goes into meal prep. For the actual meal, we must set the table and get our drinks. She is responsible for placing the napkins/cutlery on the table and getting her own water. We have placed her cups in a lower cupboard so she can reach them. Lately, we've been enjoying our meals together gathered around a traditional Korean coffee/tea table that was gifted to us by our dear friend, TJ before she moved. (kamsamhamnida Teej!) It's great because Tesla can sit in her Bumbo and we are all joined together, which makes the meal more intimate. My favorite moment is witnessing us all bent down in prayer, everyone holding hands, including Tesla, with Guapo reverently by our side. After the meal, we all take our plates to the kitchen and M's job is to wipe down the table. Everyone helps, regardless.
What about you? When did you/will you introduce kitchen skills to your little ones? This is a great reference page for Increasing Preschoolers Mealtime Independence.