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Teaching food safety may seem like a low priority on the ‘teaching’ scale but teaching your children about food safety is an important and valuable life lesson.
There are many different things you can teach your children about food safety. You may not feel the need to touch on all the finer points so focus on the basics. Once the foundational knowledge is learned and become commonplace, then you can build on the skills. There are a great number of things you as a parent will teach your child, and a great number of food safety tips alone.
You may not be able to teach your child each and every single rule about food safety, so concentrate on those that are the most important. Begin with the rules that are foundational, and build on them little by little.
Children often learn the easiest when they’re having fun. Try making a game out of teaching/learning food safety. Focus on fun. You can do this daily as you make and prepare each meal. That’s at least three times a day you get to teach and they get to learn. Snack times are bonus times.
Don’t get frustrated if your child isn’t catching on quickly. Don’t get angry. Don’t fuss at them. The best lessons are learned through action. Showing and telling while doing.
For instance, you can teach them ‘how’ to wash their hands properly and ask them to scrub for 20 seconds.
How long is 20 seconds? It’s about the time it takes to recite the alphabet or sing Happy Birthday. Both make learning how & how long to wash their hands fun.
Use Real Life Situations
When you’re in the kitchen with the children and preparing a meal. Talk about what you’re doing. Talk about food safety tips. When packing up leftovers for the fridge talk about how and why. If you ask your child to do something and it potentially involves food safety, educate him on the information surrounding it instead of just making a demand.
Teach by Example
Little eyes watch. When you’re in the kitchen preparing a meal think about food safety and practice what you preach. Don’t use the same cutting board for veggies that you just used to cut up chicken. You know why. You’ve explained why to your child. Don’t do it (for food safety reasons) and because you should practice what you preach. Little ones really are observant and will remember, especially when you don’t follow your own rules.
Make it Fun
Once you’ve taught the basics of food safety you can ‘test’ them by letting them create a meal. I’d steer clear of fancy dishes but your child can make a sandwich and chips or other simple foods.
Let them plan the meal. Encourage them to talk about the safety measures they’re following as they make the meal. Doing something even as simple as a quick meal is a sure-fire way to get them involved in learning. In fact, they’ll learn without realizing they’re being taught
Food safety is important and you should make every effort to teach it to your child. Use a variety of opportunities and circumstances to help anchor the concept in your child’s mind.
When your child understands food safety, you will improve his life and the lives of those around him.