I spent hours this week trying to figure out what I wanted to share today. I knew it was going to be about something that was working in our home/school this week but I didn't know what I wanted to share. I knew I'd promised to share about our math manipulative cubes but I keep forgetting to take pictures. I thought about sharing how well being outside works for us, but I've talked about that a lot this week. I contemplated talking about not yelling, but this week that just doesn't seem right. So what did I end up with?
Cooking as a family works for us.
From littlest (Peanut) to biggest (Daddy) we all enjoy cooking. Sometimes we only like to make certain things, sometimes we just want to help out, and sometimes we aren't really enjoying it but we're still doing it. The kiddos have not always helped out in the kitchen. I just figured that I could get it done faster myself if they'd just step out of the kitchen for even a few minutes. This changed a few years ago when I decided that ECJ, then around 8, could certainly make his own lunches for the most part and definitely get his own cereal in the mornings. I taught him a few simple things like pouring cereal, making toast, making sandwiches, we taught him how to use a microwave (although three years later this one still escapes him from time to time). This helped me a lot when Daddy was having one of his in bed ill times because if ECJ could get one sandwich made than he could make YCJ one while he was at it.
Doing those little things sparked a wild fire of interest in cooking for ECJ. He is now often found in the kitchen no matter who is making what and asking a TON of questions. "How do you make ... ?" and "What is ... ?" are some of the most common questions he asks. As YCJ noticed this happening and us calmly answering if not actively allowing him to help she began asking as well. And slowly over the years each child has learned more and more of the how and what's involved in the kitchen.
Around age five we begin with cereal pouring and drink pouring. Sometimes it's late in the year the kiddo turns five, sometimes it's early in that year. It depends on the child. We move on to sandwiches, the toaster, the microwave oven, and helping us stir and sprinkle as the need arises.
We've found recipes that they can help with or make themselves. One of the biggest hits in our home is homemade pizza night. These are just soft taco shells (or burrito shells) with a spoon or two of sauce, sprinkled with cheese and toppings of the child's choice. Each kiddo gets to make their own and they only take about five minutes to cook in a 350 degree oven. These make for wonderfully thin crusted pizzas that are personalized to each person and everyone always eats theirs because they got to make it.
YCJ began seriously helping out this year and is now in charge of making lunch for everyone usually (hopefully) once a week or so. One of her favorites to make are roll up lunches. She prefers taking those same shells we use for so many things and spreading them with peanut butter (or some other yummy spread), adding a little surprise (once it was raisins), and rolling them up. She even once tore a couple extra shells up into quarters and asked me to cut the rolls on a diagonal for her. Coming up with a rather cute plating idea.
ECJ is now 11 and even though we have a gas stove he gets to help with actual cooking quite a bit. He's a bit short for his age and so we're always right there to keep an eye on him but he does very well. It's one of the activities that he knows he must concentrate when he's doing it, and that makes it one of the ones that he doesn't let his ADHD interfere with.
Having three kids, or sometimes even one kid, in the kitchen with you while you're cooking doesn't always work. But, by and large, it works for us. It teaches them important life skills they will need as they grow older. It teaches them responsibility and nutrition. And it reminds us all that we're a family first and families are teams.
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** Linking up today with both Our Busy Homeschool and Squishable Baby