(written for a home education exemption when Kgirl was aged 6)
Kgirl is particularly fond of cooking so we use this interest to teach her learning tools (good habits, curiosity, creativity, language skills, reason, wisdom). With these tools mastered, she will be able to learn anything she sets her mind to.
- Habit of attention/concentration: She has to pay attention to details – reading correctly and measuring precisely (weights, time, temperature) for a recipe to turn out right.
- Habit of excellence: We expect her to do her best – slapping icing on a cake is not acceptable if she is able to do it well.
- Habit of orderliness/neatness: She has to tidy up when she has finished, doing the dishes and putting things away in the right place – home management skills!
- Habit of truthfulness: We can use cooking to help train Kgirl in truthfully assessing what she actually knows and what she yet has to learn. She struggles with deceitfulness in general, and in particular in the kitchen cupboards, so this has afforded special training for her.
- Habit of self-control: Even when it’s hard or she doesn’t feel like it, if it is her turn to cook, she is required to do so and learns self-control as she does.
- Habit of diligence/redeeming the time: In the face of distractions, she is spurred on to work hard.
- Habit of love: We have encouraged her to use her skills to bless others, sharing what she makes with neighbours, family and others.
- Habit of obedience: Through following mama’s directions over the years, the kitchen has been a great training ground in obedience for Kgirl.
Good appetites for literature, art, music and video
While we work we listen to music, feeding our souls as well as our bodies!
Kgirl’s interest in cooking has even affected which books she likes – Pass the Jam Jim, Green Eggs and Ham, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the Little House books that give so much detail about food preparation are all favourites.
Rembrandt’s The Potato People struck a chord with her.
(Although that is not to say she doesn’t like other things too – this just shows how we can use her interest to develop her learning).
What will happen if I drop an egg? Does sugar dissolve the same in milk as it does in water? How many cups of rice would fit in that bowl? How do eggs go hard when you cook them? Why did the lid come off the bottle of water I put in the freezer? How does an eggbeater spin around when I turn the handle? My brother made salt crystals – would it work with sugar?
All these questions have arisen naturally out of time spent working in the kitchen.
She has invented new recipes, and we plan on using her interest to introduce her to such people as Louis Pasteur who might inspire her to even greater heights of creativity.
Writing skills are developed as she keeps a recipe book of all recipes she has made. Reading occurs as she reads recipes.
Speaking skills are honed as she teaches some of what she has learnt to younger siblings.
Listening is important when she is learning something new.
Reason can be developed by dialogue and that certainly happens in the kitchen as we work together. Mama asks probing questions to stimulate thinking. And specific to the kitchen is the issue of healthy living – this is discussed a lot.
Problem-solving is another way of developing reasoning skills and this, too, occurs naturally in the kitchen – how do you double or triple a recipe? How do you measure a whole cup if the cup measure is in the dishwasher and there is only a half cup measure in the drawer? How will we divide this up equally amongst all the children? When a child forms an opinion on something their reasoning skills are further developed, so we encourage Kgirl to persuade us why her opinion on a matter is correct or at least reasonable! This often occurs as we are working together.
We have been able to use Kgirl’s interest in the kitchen to introduce her to older wise ladies who love to cook and bottle fruit – she has worked alongside them and has learnt more than just cooking as they chat about their work or relationships or when they were little or their walk with the Lord etc.
So far, Kgirl has had opportunities to work out which product is the most economical to buy at the supermarket. We envisage extending this to her being capable of doing the shopping – in the role of shopper, she will be able to exercise stewardship.