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View Full Version : Thoughts on getting a child started...



skewed
02-10-2012, 11:23 PM
My eldest, 9.5yr old daughter, is showing a strong interest in my knives and has been asking about learning how to sharpen and how to use them. On on hand I really cringe at the thought of her cutting herself and feeling terrible about it but on the other hand I think this might be the perfect time to get her going with good technique and sharping skills (while she is very interested).

Too young?

I am thinking about getting her a Fujiwara 120mm petty FKH and dulling or taping the edge at first. Carbon will teach her to practice good knife hygiene and should be the easiest for her to learn to hone. Have her start with soft things such as cukes then teach her to sharpen a little at a time as she progresses with her skills.

Sound reasonable? Other thoughts?

Cheers,
rj

Salty dog
02-10-2012, 11:33 PM
First I would explain the facts of life................Safety.

skewed
02-10-2012, 11:35 PM
haha

Yeah, tons of safety. I will be closely watching.

Eamon Burke
02-10-2012, 11:53 PM
Children can learn basic knife skills at right about that age. She's old enough! Just give her small, safe jobs, like cutting a piece of veggie, and learn to love weird shaped food bits. Safety, Safety, Safety.

Be advised: She is going to cut herself while using a knife. Happens to everyone. Ideally never the same way twice.

tk59
02-10-2012, 11:56 PM
I started my daughter with a cheese knife and bananas. Now that she's got the claw thing going, I let her cut orange segments, etc with something sharper.

Deckhand
02-10-2012, 11:58 PM
Tough call. My oldest son is 9 and it would be fun, but if he cut his finger off... Well I wouldn't ever forgive myself. And the wife wouldnt be pleased either. Can't believe I haven't cut my own finger clean off, but came close a couple times.

Justin0505
02-11-2012, 12:12 AM
I was probably around that age when I started really getting into knives and cooking. Safety is, of course, important, but you also want to make sure to keep things fun and not intimidating. Let her go at her own pace / level of interest and realize that even adults will eventually make mistakes /cut themselves.

Mr. Drinky would be a good person to talk to: his daughter has her own mini santoku with custom Martel handle....

Johnny.B.Good
02-11-2012, 12:12 AM
Have you seen the Misono knife designed for children? Mr. Drinky here bought one for his daughter and had Dave put a new handle on it. Amazing.

Here's how little I know about kids. I have a good friend at work who has a little boy that's coming up on his third (yes, third birthday. I honestly thought the little Misono might make a good birthday present, as he asked for a little (actually not so little) play kitchen for Christmas. So I asked Drinky in a PM what he thought of the idea, and he sent a very thoughtful response with some polite alternatives. ;)

Maybe he will chime in here...

Johnny.B.Good
02-11-2012, 12:13 AM
Mr. Drinky would be a good person to talk to: his daughter has her own mini santoku with custom Martel handle....

You stole the words right out of my mouth.

mr drinky
02-11-2012, 12:47 AM
Ok, late to the party. I can't remember what exactly I said about the Misono but I think all knives and children depend first and foremost upon parent awareness. I think the AP food editor gave his kid a real knife at 2 years but it involved very strict rules and a lot of parental 'support' which means involving the kid in a lot of other cooking, direct monitoring, and explicit rules for cutting.

For my first daughter, 5 years was the sharp knife safety zone for me. I knew that I could communicate to her and she could understand cutting technique enough. The first thing she cut with her sharp knife was raw fish for sushi. She was safe -- but it wasn't that great of cuts. (Just kidding)

With that said, there are many tool options for cutting -- some safer than others (regular but smaller knives, mezzaluna, plastic lettuce knives, serrated table knives, and butter knives to name a few).

Here are some of my thought/rules/ideas:

* Don't think of cutting with knives first but just cooking in general. Food is the gateway drug.
* Know your kids and monitor them. This is probably the most important rule. Some kids are Ok at 2 others at 7+.
* Let them learn the 'burn' lesson before giving a really sharp knife. If they still want to cook after the burn, let them cut.
* Use a big cutting board. Cutting boards are more important when young. They need space because they are really inaccurate.
* Let them have their own knife and cooking gear if they seem interested. It makes it special and they take ownership more.
* Teach them a bit about honing and sharpening -- they will probably find it interesting. I stayed up sharping a paring knife with my daughter once until midnight.
* Teach good technique BUT you may have to let some things slide for safety sake.
* And lastly, teach them never to join a knife forum. Make up some story, but protect your children ;)

k.

Johnny.B.Good
02-11-2012, 12:55 AM
This is from Drinky's message to me:

A year before the Misono I started my daughter on one of those little Kuhn Rikon dog knives. She still uses it, and it helped getting her used to cutting before the Misono. They have a serrated one, a flat edge one, and there is also a duck snipper, which I haven't used. You might want to look into those. All three would probably cost the same as the Misono.

http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-Kinderkitchen-Dog-Knife/dp/B001UK3FAQ/ref=pd_sim_k_2

Might be another possibility.

RRLOVER
02-11-2012, 01:01 AM
Go for it!!!! I started my baby girl off with a 165mm shigi.It was a great bonding time with her and we have had none of her blood on the board so far.The only problem I see arising is her high standards of kitchen cutlery.

skewed
02-11-2012, 01:03 AM
...and learn to love weird shaped food bits

:lol2:


Be advised: She is going to cut herself while using a knife. Happens to everyone. Ideally never the same way twice.

Yeah, I really hate the thought of it but it will not be the end of the world. She will heal and hopefully not make the exact same mistake again.

skewed
02-11-2012, 01:19 AM
Here are some of my thought/rules/ideas:

* Don't think of cutting with knives first but just cooking in general. Food is the gateway drug.
* Know your kids and monitor them. This is probably the most important rule. Some kids are Ok at 2 others at 7+.
* Let them learn the 'burn' lesson before giving a really sharp knife. If they still want to cook after the burn, let them cut.
* Use a big cutting board. Cutting boards are more important when young. They need space because they are really inaccurate.
* Let them have their own knife and cooking gear if they seem interested. It makes it special and they take ownership more.
* Teach them a bit about honing and sharpening -- they will probably find it interesting. I stayed up sharping a paring knife with my daughter once until midnight.
* Teach good technique BUT you may have to let some things slide for safety sake.
* And lastly, teach them never to join a knife forum. Make up some story, but protect your children ;)

k.

k-

She does enjoy spending time with me in the kitchen cooking.
I know both of my kids very well and my girl is pretty mature, responsible and mindful.
Burn lesson! Great suggestion. She hasn't burned herself yet though she actually has a pretty high pain threshold.
Big board- check
Own knife- soon to get
Honing and sharpening will definitely come also. She is interested.
I wont be too tough on her and safety will come first.
I will work on not getting her into the forums!

Great list. I am really looking forward to this endeavor. I will have to take a look at that Misono but for her first a 120mm petty should get her going.

update- I like the look of that Misono. That might be what I get her. Is it 120mm (last number in the item #)? What steel is it? Rounded tip might really help cut down on accidental pokes.

Cheers,
rj

mr drinky
02-11-2012, 01:37 AM
The Misono is technically 120, but because of the rounded tip it comes in more around 11.5 -- but what child cares about that.

The rounded tip is also a mixed benefit. It is saferr but a lot of kids like to stab meat with the tip at first and the rounded part can be frustrating. The good thing is that it forces you to teach technique early on. You kid at 9.5 years is going to be fine with it.

Good luck and I might contact you via PM to see how things are going. It sounds like you are in a good situation with a great kid.

k.

skewed
02-11-2012, 01:49 AM
Good luck and I might contact you via PM to see how things are going. It sounds like you are in a good situation with a great kid.

k.

She is a peach. I will get something this next week. PM at will.

Cheers,
rj

Deckhand
02-11-2012, 02:08 AM
Hmm.. With a Kuhn Rikon dog knife, and the misono kids I had seen at Korin before. May need to rethink my view. Good advice on this thread.

Johnny.B.Good
02-11-2012, 02:46 AM
In case you haven't seen the Misono that belongs to Drinky's daughter:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/150-Western-Re-Handle-Gallery?p=65081&viewfull=1#post65081

I like it so much I may need to pick one up for myself. Could come in handy when I have had too much to drink and need to prepare a late night snack. ;)

Salty dog
02-11-2012, 02:48 AM
and remember a cut is a badge of honor.

It means you were trying too hard.

Tristan
02-11-2012, 02:54 AM
Some kids develop a phobia for cooking and knives after getting burned/cut. Hopefully with supervision and the right mindset this never happens to anyone on this forum

mr drinky
02-11-2012, 02:59 AM
and remember a cut is a badge of honor.

It means you were trying too hard.

That is true. But as a weak parent, the first burn was much easier for me. It was her fault and quick. And I had more time to teach her that this stuff happens. But improper cutting on a tiny finger can possibly mean the loss of a finger. That's hard to explain in the bloody moment.

k.

mr drinky
02-11-2012, 03:01 AM
In case you haven't seen the Misono that belongs to Drinky's daughter:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/150-Western-Re-Handle-Gallery?p=65081&viewfull=1#post65081

I like it so much I may need to pick one up for myself. Could come in handy when I have had too much to drink and need to prepare a late night snack. ;)

Thanks for re-posting. Even I love that knife, and the best thing is that it was leftover wood from my Martell so it is a matching set with mine. Daddy and daughter knives ;)

k.

Deckhand
02-11-2012, 03:05 AM
Thanks for re-posting. Even I love that knife, and the best thing is that it was leftover wood from my Martell so it is a matching set with mine. Daddy and daughter knives ;)

k.

Nice knife and cute/sentimental that they match.

Johnny.B.Good
02-11-2012, 03:06 AM
Thanks for re-posting. Even I love that knife, and the best thing is that it was leftover wood from my Martell so it is a matching set with mine. Daddy and daughter knives ;)

That's really cool. You need to post a picture of them side by side in your gallery.

I still have a tiny pocket knife that my father let me pick out when I was a boy (it didn't seem tiny at the time). I'm sure your daughter treasures her little knife and will keep it forever (or until she has a son or daughter of her own to pass it on to).

mr drinky
02-11-2012, 03:23 AM
You need to post a picture of them side by side in your gallery.


I've planned on doing that and will, but the neat thing is that when you follow the link (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/150-Western-Re-Handle-Gallery?p=65081&viewfull=1#post65081) and look at the knife handle in Dave's signature at the bottom, that is actually my knife, so in that specific post the whole 'family' is together.

k.

skewed
02-11-2012, 04:04 AM
Mr Drinky-

That is one sweet rehandle! I like the idea of a matched set.

I really understand why your last rule is to keep them off the forums!

Lefty
02-11-2012, 05:54 AM
My parents let me get my first hunting knife at (I think) 8 years old. I used to try to sharpen it on the bricks on the corner of our house and stones I'd find down by the creek, behind our house. I used to try to hunt squirrels and snakes with that thing until I became fascinated with my Dad's Estwings and making dinky cars look like they'd been in an accident.
If I managed to keep all of my fingers, I'm guessing you shouldn't have too many issues.
Of course, safety is number one!

Sarge
02-11-2012, 11:08 AM
My oldest son was 3 when he got interested in cooking and 4 when I started letting him cut things like bananas soft fruits with dullish knives. At 5 he has got the claw down cold, but he loves cooking more than cutting and so we spend more time with that, right now. He still is into the knife side but doesn't find prep as enjoyable as I do so he waits till its cooking time. We've had a few burns and it hasn't been a deterrent, and being a rowdy boy he's used to cuts and scrapes, so I doubt it'll be an issue.

My view is you know your child best and my younger boy who is now 3 I barely let in the kitchen he's just not at an awareness level that I can turn my back on him at all. I will say however he is very into my knives and in few years might get to do more than admire from a distance. Just lay out clear rules provide support and supervision and use Drinky's list as a good guide, and you'll be fine

Phip
02-11-2012, 05:45 PM
I think my daughter was 12 when I bought her a Tosagata from JWW. http://www.japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=05.131.9&dept_id=13198 It's a 7.5" blade, real carbon steel, easy to sharpen and handle, and only $35--plus it "looks like one of Papa's". She started with the basics of safety and knife care, and she does the rest. She's into the cooking and cutting, but not the sharpening, so I do that for her figuring there's not much point in forcing it.

skewed
02-11-2012, 05:58 PM
I think my daughter was 12 when I bought her a Tosagata from JWW. http://www.japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=05.131.9&dept_id=13198 It's a 7.5" blade, real carbon steel, easy to sharpen and handle, and only $35--plus it "looks like one of Papa's". She started with the basics of safety and knife care, and she does the rest. She's into the cooking and cutting, but not the sharpening, so I do that for her figuring there's not much point in forcing it.

Phip-

That looks like a neat next knife for my daughter if she like the carbon fujiwara I just ordered. I hope my girl gets into sharpening but if not I wont push it either. Thanks for pointing out the knife.

Cheers,
rj

mr drinky
02-11-2012, 06:59 PM
Phip-

That looks like a neat next knife for my daughter if she like the carbon fujiwara I just ordered. I hope my girl gets into sharpening but if not I wont push it either. Thanks for pointing out the knife.

Cheers,
rj

I like those tosagatas from JWW. I have two that I bought for practice sharpening way back when. The edge on some of them can be a bit wavy and might need some work, but I still like them and they are surprisingly stain resistant with the kurouchi finish. I think it is a great buy and good starter knife for an older kid.

k.

skewed
02-11-2012, 07:57 PM
So two votes for the Tosagatas. I will be sure to grab one soon.

dschonbrun
02-12-2012, 12:58 PM
Depending on the child's hand-eye and age/maturity, you can start basic skills with a simple table/butter-knife and some soft cantalope, watermelon, or honeydew. By using an edge that isn't too sharp, and a food that's easy to cut, it will be fun and rewarding for the child. Once you feel comfortable that they are less likely to cut themselves... you can move to a sharper blade.

For learning to cut on a board with a first sharp blade , it helps to ensure the child has basic skills that recognize the edge, use a controlled grip, and a controlled guide. Having taught many 12 year olds in scout camp to use knives for cooking.... I would recommend a slightly deeper profile knife, deba or gyuto, in a smaller length. While a full grown chef might not find much use for a 140-150 mm Gyuto or western chef, they are perfect for juniors if made in a light enough steel (thinner). With a petty, paring, yanagiba profile, it's much easier to catch a knuckle while learning to use the claw and starting your position too high off the cutting board. With a Deba, Gyuto, Santoku, you are more likely to set the knuckle against the blade enough above the edge to reduce the risk of such a cut. I find that focusing on a process, and taking your time, present the best results in teaching good knife skills.

Also I find it helpful to use a knife that is not laser sharp, perhaps a German double bevel in the 22 degree per side region. A knife that has a vertical full bolster which runs to the knife's edge so the middle finger is less likely to catch the heel and produce a small cut, is also very helpful for a first timer.

D

Dave Martell
02-12-2012, 01:43 PM
This is great thread with lots of good advice and information in it. I have two girls myself (5 & 2 yrs old) and while the 5 yr old has plenty of interest in my knives she's just too flighty for me to go there with here right now. I'm planning, when the time feels right, to start her off with the banana & butter knife and go from there. With my youngest she may be completely different and show more maturity but only time will tell. As it's been pointed out already we probably already know the answer as to when it's right and when it's not, just got to go with the gut and be safe.



On a side note, here's a picture that I came across years ago while doing research. I just loved this, made me smile, so I saved it. :)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v438/dmart/09b.jpg

Keith Neal
02-12-2012, 02:00 PM
I think strict rules help keep the right things in mind. My son had his first shotgun at 8. The rules were:

If you ever touch it when I am not with you, it is gone forever.
If it ever points at anyone, even in passing, loaded or not, it is gone forever.
If it ever gets a minute spot of rust, it is gone forever.

I meant it, and he knew it. None of those things ever happened.

There was much explanation about the whys of the rules, and discussion about what-if situations, until all was clear.

Kids need firm rules. They respond well to them, and feel more confident when they understand and appreciate them.

The rules for knives will be diffferent, of course, but the principle still applies, I think.

Eamon Burke
02-13-2012, 12:42 AM
I also think that effective play is critical in teaching children. If you pretend with them in a play kitchen, and treat it like real life, they will absorb things that become almost cultural constants--like never putting the knife on the edge of the counter. If you get it before they even think to make the mistake, it will never look/feel right to them and they won't think of doing some of those things.

Think of the things your kids learn without you trying to teach them...just by watching you. Though they don't know how to properly hold a knife, they don't grab it edge-first, do they? Yet nobody told them not to!

mr drinky
02-13-2012, 12:49 AM
Non knife related, but I remember the first time I gave my daughter an ice cream cone and she just held it and looked baffled. Then I realized she hadn't been taught how to lick -- seriously. I had never eaten an ice cream cone in front of her and I had this sort of 'oh sh!t' moment and said to her, "I'm sorry, you don't know how to lick do you?" I had to scramble with an impromptu lesson before that ice cream melted.

k.