I have a thing or two to say about teaching cooking classes, as I am very active in teaching them in 4H.
I am pretty well-versed in what to do, what not to do…I’ve messed up a lot. Hopefully, though, you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. So here’s some things you need to keep in mind while teaching a kids’ cooking class:
1. Time – How much time do you have for your class? A good time is 1 1/2 hrs – 2 hrs. Consider recipes that will be able to be made in that time (and keep in mind, sometimes kids take a really long time to do things that most adults can do in no time!). Reserve 5-10 minutes at the end to eat your creations and clean up.
2. Age + Skill Level – How old are the kids attending? What skill level are they? Beginners? Intermediate? Make sure to fine-tune your recipes to the audience you will be teaching. For the first class, start simple – it’s better to err on that side than to make something that is too complicated for them. Then, if needed, choose harder recipes as you go on.
3. Order – Sometimes a class can be a balancing act, a math problem. You must place the recipes in the right order; if your porchetta takes 45 minutes to bake, you need to get that done and in the oven before the 10-minute cookies.
4. Don’t stress – Ultimately, it’s more important for the kids to have fun and learn than for everything to go exactly as planned! No matter what happens, you can learn from your mistakes and make your class even better the next time.
5. Be flexible – Sometimes things won’t go as you planned, so be flexible. Once my class ran out of so much time, we had to cut our not-yet baked dessert, put each slice on a paper plate, and give the kids directions on baking it at home. It was a huge flop and fail, but it turned out fine because of our quick thinking.