The photo above shows a selection of knives I have found really useful when working with kids. I have laid them out from left to right in order of how you would introduce them - a skills progression if you like.
Unless you are cutting bread or a tomato I would avoid using a serrated knife. It is teaching children the wrong skills as they need to saw with them to get them to cut.
This is the best place to start when teaching knife skills. Being blunt it is totally safe, it's very cheap and although they can be washed and used again they are also compostable.
You can use the lollipop stick to cut bananas, strawberries, dough, mozzarella cheese and many other soft food items.
Teach the bridge / tunnel and claw techniques for cutting using the lollipop stick so that the action and fine motor skills of cutting can be introduced.
This is a great knife to use for cutting soft fruits, tomatoes, bananas and other soft items like pieces of bread etc.
It is blunt and the serrated blade is safe as it won't cut the skin.
This is also a great knife to use when making pastry, buns etc to help mix the dough without getting your hands sticky.
This is a good introduction to using a sharp bladed knife as it has a rounded end, meaning that you can't stab with it and so avoid certain accidents.
This has it's down side as it is harder to cut into some vegetables, and is particularly unhelpful when trying to chop an onion.
Although the blade is too thick on this particular knife (so it is difficult to make it very sharp) it was a bargain price of £2 from Tesco. I keep a few in my knife box for use with students who are more likely to find knife safety difficult.
This is the knife I use most in schools. It is small enough to be used by Year 2 and upwards and is very versatile.
Use it for cutting vegetables, fruit, fish and meat.
I like to keep the blades sharp as then it is easier to cut. The easier it is to cut the less accidents occur, as a blunt knife means more pressure needs to be applied and there is more chance of the knife slipping.
I take a small number of these into schools when I cook with kids as Year 3 upwards can handle them (under closer supervision than I would with the paring knives).
These knives are great for chopping herbs, finely chopping onions and I use them myself when cutting open a bigger vegetable like a cabbage or pumpkin (I wouldn't let kids do it).
The only item this will cut is a banana, and even then it tends to mash it.
Avoid it like the plague. Use a butter knife instead as it cuts better and is just as safe.
This cuts well, but being so fine I have often found it being used upside down and then there is real potential for an accident
Use a heavier paring knife instead. It is almost impossible to hold it the wrong way.