Sharing - Go Ahead, Give Your Toddler A Kitchen Knife

~ Posted on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 12:03 AM ~

I came across this article which I must definitely share with you guys as I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this. For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

"As part of the practical skills curriculum at Montessori schools, children as young as 18 months old are given a butter or jam knife for spreading condiments. Then they move on to chopping soft fruits like bananas. Eventually the child graduates to a serrated knife. (Supersharp chef knives are not part of the program.)

The process is slow and supervised. "Kids are shown early on, even when they're using the butter knife to cut the banana, how to hold the handle, where to put the other hand, how to stabilize the banana," says Anna Perry, executive director of Seton Montessori Institute and Schools in the Chicago area.

Giving young children knives is a small component of Montessori education, Perry says, but it complements the central philosophy of fostering independence. "This drive to 'do it myself' — we're squashing as a society," says Perry.

From a health and nutrition standpoint, studies have shown that getting kids cooking makes them more open to eating healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Both the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association suggest that getting kids involved with grocery shopping and food prep can reduce picky eating.

There's also an evolutionary argument for allowing children to learn how to cut their food themselves. A child's world, David Lancy, an anthropologist at Utah State University in Logan and author of The Anthropology of Childhood, tells me, used to be filled with tools, such as hammers, rakes, mortars, pestles and machetes to break open foods like coconuts.

Nowadays, though, the only real tools many kids use on a daily basis are spoons and forks. In an article titled "Playing with Knives" to appear later this year in the journal Child Development, Lancy writes that contemporary parental overprotectiveness is linked to rising incomes and declining family size, factors that have turned children into "precious treasures rather than future helpers."

Historically, it appears that humans not only gave the littlest members of society access to tools but also let them sort out the danger for themselves. Even now, in many communities around the world, young children still have access to sharp tools.

Lancy says that this laissez-faire approach to parenting has several explanations, among them parents' unwillingness to impose their will on another, even a child, and the belief that children must learn through exploration, regardless of the risks.

Here in the U.S, parents don't seem to be denying kids access to knives entirely but rather delaying it. A perusal of cooking classes for kids online, for instance, shows that the earliest knives are allowed in the kitchen is around age 7.

Yet Lancy and others argue that delaying knife use until then hinders the child's natural development and inhibits curiosity. It's akin to delaying potty training until elementary school, says Elizabeth Norman, director of advancement at Brickton Montessori School in Chicago."

Toddler using knife

I personally feel that as long as it is age appropriate and you think your child is ready for it, why not? I let our 6.5 year old boy and 4 year old girl use the butter knife (heavy for the metal material but not sharp that it can hurt anyone) and let them practise cutting fruits like mangoes and papaya after I sliced off the outer skin layer. Very nice to watch them being happy and accomplishing a big task (to them!)

What do you think?

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