|My not-quite-three-year-old sauteing shrimp. She ate all of those, by the way, just like that, for dinner.|
From Charlotte Mason's Formation of Character, pages 258 - 259:
Every woman should understand, and know how to perform, every duty of cooking or cleaning, mending or making, proper to a house; and a regular, practical course of training under her mother's eye might well occupy an hour or two of the girl's morning. May I suggest the great use and value of a household book, in which the young housekeeper notes down exactly how to do everything, from the scouring of a floor to the making of an omelet, either as she has done it herself, or has watched it being done, with the little special wrinkles that every household gathers.
Now, Mason's reason for this was not so the woman would be able to cook her own dinner, but so she could instruct the help as to how things should be done. I think it is of even more importance now for children to learn to cook because it is highly unlikely they will, in their adult lives, be employing their own Mrs. Patmores.
Though my daughter is too young to keep a household book, I've been letting her cook since she could stand on a chair. She chops vegetables with a crinkle cutter and scrambles eggs. While baking sugar cookies, she once cracked an egg one-handed without getting any eggshell into the mixing bowl!
I supervise her very closely.
Mason went on to say that girls should not just be taught how to be homemakers. From page 266:
[...]What is to be done with a family of grown-up daughters? It is not enough that they learn a little cooking, a little dressmaking, a little clear-starching. Every one of them should have a thorough recognised training for some art or profession whereby she may earn her living, doing work useful to the world, and interesting and delightful to herself, as is all skilled labour of head or hands.