As Thanksgiving and the other winter holidays are coming up right around the corner, food and food preparation become the center of our homes and the focus of our kitchens. Years ago I saw a film about child development (black and white, reel to reel) and in it was a teacher who said something that has stuck with me, and has resonated over the years.
We don’t include children because they are competent.
Children become competent because we include them.
This was said in reference to completing a food experience with young children. The children were baking something that required eggs. The film shows many children trying to break eggs without getting the shells in the bowl. The teacher was smart – she didn’t have the children break the eggs into the batter; she had them break the eggs into their own separate bowls. That way she could sift the shells out and use the eggs for something else. Children don’t learn to break eggs by watching other people break eggs. They learn to break eggs by breaking eggs. They become competent at breaking eggs by breaking eggs and becoming competent.
This principle is one that I followed with my own children and one that I followed as a teacher. Yes, food experiences are easier if the teacher completes the difficult stuff and then simply lets the children stir. Your baked goods will have less shells in them, but the children will have engaged in a watching activity rather than a food activity. You might as well put them in front of Paula Deen and call it a day.
As you begin preparing your holiday menus, try and include your children in the food preparation as much as possible. Think of ways that they can participate actively rather than observe the activity. Let them prepare, cook, and eat their efforts. This is a great way to let them truly engage in the festivities as they grow more and more competent.
Happy Thanksgiving Math at Home Readers!