While children are home during this period, it might be a good opportunity to extend learning beyond school classes to some basic life lessons. Sewing on a button, sorting and folding laundry, sweeping a floor and basic yardwork are all examples of small tasks that can occupy time and prepare a child for life. My hands-down favorite lesson is cooking, because it checks many of life’s boxes.
Each of my sons, both adults now, were responsible for planning and preparing dinner one night a week. As a child, I started cooking when I was ten years old, my first creation being a cake from a box mix. I started the boys around the same age with simple things that progressed as their skills improved. Their work was supervised, and I occasionally would pitch in when needed. Aside from wonderful, sometimes interesting, meals, both my boys developed and strengthened valuable life skills. After all, preparing a dinner truly requires planning and project management.
Determining what to make requires research. They rummaged through my cookbooks to find a recipe which usually had an appealing picture or a tasty-sounding title. After a selection was made, the actual directions were read. Unknown terminology needed to be looked up – for example, “baste” isn’t a word kids see every day.
Ingredients need to be located. If any were lacking at home, a grocery store trip might be required or a substitution might be workable, as in the case of dried herbs versus fresh. Missing ingredients could force another recipe selection.
Time management is required. To serve a dinner at 7 p.m., where the meat is marinated, what’s the time to start preparations? If ingredients are needed from the grocery store, would there still time be to make the recipe this week?
Math comes into play, especially the dreaded fractions, when trying to increase or decrease ingredients. Explaining why one cup of flour is needed when doubling a recipe that has ½ cup of flour is math.
Preparing the workspace with necessary tools, utensils and food requires organization. Following the recipe requires attention, comprehension and usually good hand-eye coordination – overseen by a responsible adult, as needed.
Sharing dinner as a family is the obvious final step. Acknowledging the creativity and effort taken to prepare the meal that feeds the family boosts the child’s self-esteem.
My boys, now men, still cook. One is working on his PhD and the other is in the Air Force. I’d like to think their time in the kitchen contributed to their successes. And yes, they can sew on a button, do their own laundry, sweep a floor and much more.