teach them diligently [the oven]

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One of my goals for this year is to continue teaching my children some skills to make them more independent of me. A focus of our learning around here is to take full advantage of all the learning we can in and around the home. In addition to math, science, and languages, I feel it’s my duty to help my children learn to care for their own needs. Each month of this year, I am focusing on a different skill/chore and taking my time to instruct my children.

This isn’t earth-shattering news. These aren’t difficult skills. No doubt generations of mothers before me have been doing this since the dawn of time. I have been slowly showing and teaching my children these things since they were tiny. First it was to put away toys into baskets and bins and over the years that has evolved into doing their own laundry, loading and emptying the dishwasher, and making their own beds. As they are growing, so, too, should their level of involvement around the house.

Our kids do earn “commissions” for a few set chores each week, but the skills we are working on this year are “just because” skills. They will learn to use the oven “just because” it’s a wonderful life skill to know how to make yourself something hot to eat.

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Our kids are in the kitchen all the time (mostly eating) and have all contributed in small ways to helping me cook or bake. My girls, especially, have taken a big interest in measuring, mixing and seeing the results from making something sweet. For this practice, I bought the ingredients for the kids to make their own “mini-pizzas.”

I felt it was important to have the motivation of their own lunch as a means for teaching this lesson.

We started with talking about the dangers and benefits of having an oven and stovetop. We discussed preheating, using oven mitts and never touching a hot pan after it comes out of the oven.

Thomas, Mae and Kate each did a great job using the oven and they enjoyed their pizzas. During the month, Mae and Kate made TWO Funfetti cakes all on their own. They read the recipe, measured all the right ingredients and successfully baked two, two layer cakes without incident. photo 3

(You may have noticed my counters are still askew in these photos. Gah!!!)

Also, during this month, I turned over one night of making dinner TOTALLY to the kids. They made an easy dish, spaghetti. Each one helped to browned the meat, and added seasonings and sauce. They simmered. They boiled a large pot of water and cooked noodles. (I did offer to help drain the hot noodles over the colander.) They also made salads and served the meal at the table. (They already clean up after themselves at every meal and all of the dinner mess for commissions.)

What was so surprising to me was how well they ATE the dinner they made. I think we all take pride in a job well done and children are no exception. I plan to start encouraging their help on a regular basis.

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This is going to sound so peculiar, but when my three children were all tiny (Thomas not quite four, Mae not quite two and Kate a newborn), one of the constant worries and irrational thoughts I had was that if something were to happen to me (oh, I don’t know, like my gall bladder rupture or I randomly fall into a state of unconsciousness), our kids could possibly be left for hours without food or care.

Blame it on watching Steel Magnolias (“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here, Mama.”) too many times where baby Jack is found squalling in tears and Shelby is passed out in the floor with food burning on the stove. But I have such a peace now that if something were to happen to me, my kids could not only call 911 and their dad to rush home; also, they could make themselves a nice hot dinner of spaghetti or cake while they wait for the ambulance. It really is the little things.

See January’s chore here. Ironing.

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