As homeschooling moms, we are quite adept at taking almost any experience and turning it into a lesson. This often done accompanied by the eye-rolling of our children who sometimes express their desire to just enjoy an experience without looking at its educational merits. However, Thanksgiving dinner is one of those areas where we can incorporate a full on semester’s worth of education in just a matter of hours. Most home economics and cooking classes teach very simple recipes and are more prone to teach a child their way around a kitchen with a few uncomplicated ingredients than they are to really prepare a child for life. One way to be sure that your children are getting the life’s lessons they need in the kitchen is to take a hands-off approach to your Thanksgiving dinner.
Turning Thanksgiving Dinner into Home Ec Class:
The first step in this process is planning, and this lesson needs to occur a week or so before the intended day. Sit down with your child or children and plan out your holiday menu. This would include a grocery shopping list to ensure that you have all the necessary items to pull off your family meal. If you want to really get into it, have your children budget how much they think the meal will cost and then do some comparisons as you shop. Don’t forget the lesson in portions as well so you are sure to plan enough food for the number of people who will be dining.
The next step in your home economics course is to plan out what items can be made ahead of time and start your plan of action. This might be things like peeling and chopping your potatoes to put in water the day before or preparing pie crusts ahead. Whatever you are planning, resist the urge to jump in; this is where your children start the learning process. You are the instructor in this lesson so sit down somewhere and instruct. If your children truly have no idea how to do a task, ask them to creatively think about how they would see a demonstration. If they aren’t grasping your explanation and they need a visual tutorial teach them the problem-solving skill of using Google or YouTube to find a tutorial.
You also want to help your children achieve a timeline so they have a clear understanding of preparing food and planning when to cook each item and how long it takes, this way you can help them understand simultaneous preparation. You may want to give them a blank schedule for the big day. Be sure that your schedule has time slots so you can sit down and plan out what time the food preparation will begin on the big day, and what time each food item should be started to keep a continuous flow occurring. This will also help your children see to it that all sides and your meat are done at the predetermined time.
Last of all, as you progress through this project, be sure to praise your children for their accomplishments. Pulling off a Thanksgiving feast can be a challenge, even for the most seasoned of chefs, so celebrate their victories with them and chalk up yet another learning experience conquered. If you are lucky, you just might work yourself right out of a job and have your own personal chefs on staff after the experience.