Teaching your child to use chopsticks is a great learning experience. Children in China start using chopsticks at age 1 and are generally masters by the age of 4. Like with so many other things, the younger you start teaching your child to use chopsticks, the easier it is. Here are step-by-step instructions to teach your child.
First, you need a pair of kids' chopsticks. You can find training chopsticks at most large grocery store chains. You can also order them online. Fred & Friends make cute chopsticks just to help kids learn to use them correctly.
Next, you need to prepare some food for your child. Apple chunks, cubed cheese, and mini marshmallows are good to start with, as they are easy to pick up. Try to avoid foods that are too slippery, as this could frustrate a beginner.
Most of how a child learns to use chopsticks comes from watching adults use them correctly. It does take time, but this will help engender patience and appreciation for the food they are eating.
To begin, give your child the sticks and let her grip them with her fist. This should be done just like she were picking up a fork or spoon.
Show the proper technique by having her rest one chopstick in the V-shape of her thumb and forefinger. She will then support that chopstick with her little finger and ring finger. It is important that you demonstrate for your child a few times until she gets the hang of it.
Next, instruct her to hold the other chopstick like a pencil. This is between the middle finger and the index finger. Now have her hold the bottom stick still and move the top stick to pick up the food. You can liken the motion to a bird picking its food up with its beak. (See Resources for photos of each step.)
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