In Japan many children start learning to use chopsticks around two years old. You can teach your child how to use chopsticks in three basic steps, and it is something fun you can do with your children even if you don’t live in Japan or don’t plan on eating Japanese food everyday.
We live in Japan. Using chopsticks or as they are called in Japanese “hashi” are pretty much a given. We all use them for every meal unless we are eating Western food like Hamburgers or Pasta.
Training chopsticks come in many different characters and colors. I suggest matching your child’s interest to make it even more fun. I found some Edison Disney Baby Minnie Mouse Learning Training Chopstick for Kids – Right Handchopsticks that are so cute!
These chopsticks are hinged and have 3 rings for the fingers to fit in. Your thumb goes in the biggest ring and your first two fingers go in the other rings.(I highly suggest this type as your step one! There are many variations of training chopsticks on the market, but in Japan this is the style we all use.)
At first it is a little awkward for your child to use those fingers, but being that they are hinged preschoolers usually catch on quickly. It is best to start with small chunks of food that they can pick up easily. Bits of banana, blueberries or even mini rice balls.
After a year of consistent use, you may want to move on to the next step.
2. The second step is the weaning set.
Your child will have built up the muscles in the hands and will have more developed fine motor skills. I call this the weaning set because you will need to work with your child to not depend on the chopsticks staying together via the hinge. There is an indentation and a loop that will guide where to hold the chopsticks. (I skipped this step because we use chopsticks very often. If you are having trouble using them yourself or teaching, YouTube and Google are your best bet for additional guidance.)
After another year of use, you will find that it is not necessary to assist your child at all. Soon your preschooler will be on the way to Kindergarten or at least Pre-K. Your little one is ready for the real deal in mini version.