How to teach safe knife skills to children

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When my daughter started going to The Montessori Place at 22 months old, one of the skills she learnt was how to use a knife safely.  At first, I was blown away that a child under the age of two could be trusted with a knife and I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily and enthusiastically she took to learning this new life skill.

One of the mother’s at the school recommended that I purchase a My Safe Cutter Knife to have at home and it was honestly one of the best things that I’ve ever bought my daughter.  The blade is very gently serrated with a rounded point and is just sharp enough to cut apples, cheese, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, pancakes and more.

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I always set her up with two bowls on each side of the board.  One to hold the contents that need cutting and then another to put everything into after it has been cut.  It helps to keep her board clear for the cutting and also I think it offers her a sense of having accomplished something by transferring the contents from one bowl to the other with a bit of work in the middle.  I usually cut two pieces as a sample to show her the size that I need, but sometimes I leave her to do her own thing.  I always make sure that wherever she is cutting, she is standing or sitting at a surface that is the right height for her.  Often this means standing on a chair at the kitchen counter.

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I started her off with peeled cucumbers so that I could teach her the skill of correctly holding the knife in one hand and then using her supporting hand in a safe way (fingers safe from the blade).  She learned how to saw the knife backwards and forwards to get through the cucumber.  The other part of the process was teaching her to try not to eat everything that she was cutting, so that we actually had a finished bowl of things to cook with.  When we progressed on to red peppers (one of her favourites) this got a little tricky, so I would always save a little bit extra on the side so that our stir fry didn’t look sorry for itself :-)

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She’s four and a half now, and when I have the time and patience during dinner preparation I will invite her into the kitchen with something set up to help me.  Mushrooms, red peppers, green beans, basically anything soft enough for her to cut.  Every time I have a very content daughter to accompany my cooking.  Since buying the knife, it’s one of the things that I always pack with us whenever we are traveling away from home.  I know that it’s one activity that we do together that helps ground us both – cooking together.

At just $4.75 from Pampered Chef, it’s the perfect gift to add to your Christmas stockings this year 😉  You can start teaching toddlers as young as 18 months.  It’s an essential life skill to learn and so important to teach children while they are young so that they can respect knives as well as enjoy the simple process of cutting.

 

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