Most people have by now made up their own minds on whether or not they like homeschooling. It’s not a debate that is likely to get any less polarized any time soon. Both sides have their positions, and hopefully in most cases can respect the opposite side. So rather than try and convince anyone to change their mind, it may just be worth focusing on the method.
Now, it’s fair to say that there is some good to take from a standardized schooling system. There are fundamentals that kids will learn through that system that prepare them for a future career. What that style of education often lacks, compared with homeschooling, is the practical application.
Here’s an analogy: you may learn from a book what to do if a fire breaks out. But if an actual fire does break out, do you run and look for the book? No, you put it out. When it comes down to it, we all learn more by doing than we can just by reading.
(Please note: This isn’t a recommendation to start a fire so you can teach your kid how to put it out.)
What we can take from this is that your home is a place where so many of the practical aspects of education exist both in theory and in practice. And nowhere is this more evident than in the kitchen. Let’s have a look at how.
Math: Measurements And Sums
One thing you can be sure of about kids is that they like to eat. Early on in life, there is a sense that they just see food appear, but don’t know how it got there. Cooking a meal, such as a pie, is an excellent opportunity to both see that process and learn some math.
Say the recipe calls for half a pint of milk. That’s a measurement right there. If you go to the fridge and take out a pint container of milk, there’s also a sum involved. You need half of that bottle. Now, if you’ve got a recipe that serves four, but there will be six of you eating, you need to do some multiplication to make it work. So before long, your kids can see math in action. It makes it stick more than reading it from a page.
Home Economics: Preparation And Safety
Most schools have a class dedicated to Home Ec. But let’s be honest here, where is the best place to learn about Home Economics if not the home? As well as cooking, the kitchen is a place where you can learn about hazards and preparation. This can all be arranged around the math lesson above if you like.
To make a meal you need the right ingredients, the right equipment and enough time. Preparation is essential, so give your kids a list of what is needed and where it can be found. Get them to arrange it in the center of the table, and do this all by a certain time limit.
Once the meal is prepared, then there is another important thing to do – the cleanup. This is a perfect chance to reinforce the importance of a clean, sterile kitchen and putting things back where you found them. Leaving things out, and bits lying around, can lead to milk going sour, pests showing up, and accidents in the kitchen. No classroom can teach this stuff better than your home.
Biology: Health And Nutrition
Cooking a meal has some lessons to give about some of the key aspects of biology, too. We all know how important it is to eat healthily. Kids know what they like, but aren’t always so good at knowing what’s good for them. If a recipe includes butter, they may look to use more because, well, they like butter. Too much is unhealthy, though, and you can use that to make a point on health.
Each ingredient that you use has its nutritional profile. For example, celery is an excellent food for lowering blood pressure, as The Alternative Daily points out. Garlic has many benefits for health, including the immune system. If you’re going to use making a meal as a learning experience, then it’s best to use one with a lot of ingredients. Pie, or a casserole, will give you a lot of teachable moments.
Geography: Climate And Commerce
In some people’s hands, an onion is just an onion. But in a home lesson, it can become so much more. Where did the onion come from? How did it get here? What did you pay for it and what did the farmer receive? There are a lot of questions there, and a lot of layers. Much like an onion, in fact. Or an ogre. There are facts, figures and details attached to every ingredient you use.
America is a land with varying climates, and many different foods are farmed in various regions of the country. Your potatoes may come from Idaho, your squash from Arizona. Your meat may come from somewhere else again, and it’s possible that your peppers originate from another country.
All of these are a chance to learn about climate – which foods grow in which conditions and soils. And you can learn about different cuisines – why Italian food uses tomatoes so much, the specific spices used in Mexican dishes. Fajita night can even be a chance to use any Spanish food terms the kids may have learned.
It’s amazing how much one seemingly simple process – cooking a casserole or pie – can allow you to teach. Your kitchen is in so many ways the heart of your home, but homeschooling allows you to make it the brain as well. And remember, this is just from preparing a meal.
The other rooms in your house have their own lessons to give. So for that matter does the garden (geography, science, Phys Ed). When you really think about it, the home in homeschooling isn’t just about the venue of the learning. It’s the source of so many lessons all rolled into one. Pretty impressive, when you think about it!
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