Hands down, my absolute favourite subject in homeschooling is what I deem life skills. It’s a bit of a catch-all subject in which I (or the kids) identify skills that are currently lacking and we put a plan in place to learn them.
For Leah, this has included things like tying shoelaces and working through some of her occupational therapy homework. In theory, we’d tackle these things anyway, but I find it helpful to set time aside to work on these skills specifically. Otherwise, it’s easy to let them slip through the cracks in favour of more traditional academics.
Right now, though, we’re working on kitchen skills. As we settle into a routine, the plan is for them to cook or bake twice a week (one recipe of their choice and one of mine). This week I picked applesauce, since it seemed seasonally appropriate. Leah picked chocolate chip cookies, because, well, cookies.
In order to make this a relatively enjoyable experience for all involved, I’ve got a two-part strategy:
- Only make recipes that I’ve tried before so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises; and
- If both Adam and Leah are in the kitchen at the same time, they need to be given completely separate tasks so they aren’t in each other’s way.
For the applesauce, this meant that we made baked applesauce, which is easy peasy and pretty foolproof. I then gave the kids their individual tasks: Leah washed the apples, Adam cut them, I helped with the coring, and Leah placed the cut halves on the baking sheets.
Half an hour later — with the house smelling like fall! — we plucked the skins from the apples and scraped the remaining flesh into a bowl. At this point, the original plan was to employ the potato masher to help even out the consistency, but the kids decided that chunky was better than smooth so we portioned out the applesauce and enjoyed a mid-morning snack.
Today the applesauce became one of the ingredients in chocolate chip cookies, practically making them a health food. Right?
Leah has helped bake cookies often enough that this afternoon I was able to let her lead while I took on the helper role, mostly assisting with fractions and anything involving the oven. Following recipes has provided a great opportunity for Leah to practise both reading and following instructions.
Interestingly, she doesn’t need any help with the quality assurance. She was quick to tell me that the batter tasted great — it just took a few tastes to confirm her initial findings.
Spending time in the kitchen with both kids or on a one-on-one basis has huge benefits for all three of us. Their newfound independence encourages them to take on larger tasks (Adam makes a great Pasta Primavera!) and I can delegate some of the meal prep to them without making more work for myself.
Looking ahead, Adam and Leah have plans for learning to sew (I see beanbags in our future) and planting a garden. I can’t wait to see how their ideas shape our homeschooling adventures.