Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Life Skills

In my opinion, one Seventh grade Home Economics course is not near enough to prepare anyone to run a home. Children must be taught skills early and often. Little ones are capable of emptying small garbage cans, straightening shoes, and dusting baseboards. As they grow older and more capable, bigger jobs should be assigned to them after you have patiently taught them what to do and exactly how to do it. Their first efforts won't be perfect, and yes, you could do it better, and faster yourself. The point is, they need to learn. And to learn, they must do. That being said, I have never settled for a job poorly done. When they are finished the task, you must inspect. If it does not meet your standards, gently tell them what they missed, etc. and have them do it again.

I recently presented Abigail with a junior cookbook.

I wish the book still looked like this!

She was thrilled and has been pouring over the pages, making lists of necessary ingredients, and menu planning. We agreed that she could make one dinner a week, and lunch and breakfasts at various times.

This morning, she woke early, and donned her apron. She consulted with me, cookbook in hand, as to whether or not I would give my permission for her to make breakfast cookies.

After scanning the page for ingredients, I told her she may. She disappeared into the kitchen, and I stayed out.

This may seem terrible to some of you for Abigail is just nine. I assure you that she is very responsible, and I did enter the kitchen for her to place the cookie sheet in the oven.

The true test though, is to see if she could follow the recipe with no help. And she did! She even remembered to place the egg shells in the compost bucket without being told!

She preheated the oven, gathered her ingredients, and got busy. When I entered the kitchen, it was a mess. Cabinets hung open, and boxes of cereal littered the floor, but she had followed the directions to a T, even using kitchen shears to cut up dried apricots! I supervised the cookies going into the oven, and she asked me to help her check them for done-ness when the timer went off. Other than that, she was on her own. And boy, was she ever happy!

Abigail set the table, and poured juice.

She was most pleased when Autumn and Collin went back for seconds!

And for good measure, they practiced their UNO skills while they ate as well. By the way, this is a common occurrence in our home. ;o) She had to clean the kitchen up, too.

I love that my girls can not only clean, but they cook, crochet, sew, and knit. They do laundry, and grocery shop. Tonight, Autumn is starting a cake decorating class. These skills will last them a lifetime.

post signature


Erica said...

I had that cook book!!! The original one! I bet it's at my mom's... :-)

Believe me, your girls will be thanking you in the years to come! I look around at all the young ladies getting married and struggling because they weren't taught basic homemaking skills and I am ever grateful to my mom for teaching me much more than the basics!!

And cake decorating is awesome! I got to take classes when I was about 15 and LOVED it! Hope she enjoys them as well.

This is probably my first comment here, but I wanted to say I enjoy your blog! (I have subscribed via google reader) :-)

Karen said...

Homeschooling at its best! We've always had the hands on learning in the kitchen, too. That's how I learned, so I passed it on to our girls. I love the generational lessons!
Abigail's cookies look delicious!

Anonymous said...

the turning point in our home came when the princess told me i intimidate and over-correct her and that she'd cook more if i stayed away from the kitchen. hard pill for me to swallow and i sure felt bad - but it was necessary. now that i've backed off, she's preparing some awesome dishes and boy, are her father and i blessed and impressed!

Mrs.B said...

Way to go Abigail!!

Tracy, the way you described your teaching method sounds perfect!


50shousewife said...

I wish I had learned all of that when I was a girl. It would have saved me much crying over spoiled recipes.

I would like to teach my daughters to knit, but as I am still teaching myself (out of a book) I'm afraid I might not teach them correctly. Maybe I should just give them the book and see how it goes... :)

Beck said...

What a good girl! My girl - who is 8 - loves to cook by herself, too. I bet they'd be great friends.

His Girl said...

Need your shipping address... have adorable twin girls to send your way for some LESSONS!!! I think I'll tag along too, 'cause I don't know how to do many of the things on your list!

Rachel said...

WTG, Abigail! They look awesome!
Tracy, you are an inspiration to me! Do you think this is a cookbook I could use with my boys?

Tracy said...


50s Housewife,
You'd be surprised what children can learn from a book. Klutz makes great books for learning to crochet and knit. Check them out. They are very kids friendly!

I DO think that Abigail and the Girl would be great friends!

His Girl ,
Twin girls!!!! Sure you can ship them over! And you're welcome to come along, too!

Yes! I think your boys would do great with this book. Some of it is out and out cooking from scratch, like the recipe Abigail made today. Other recipes are taking things on hand such as canned soups, frozen hashbrowns, and the like and adding to them.

Sheri said...

Tracy, you are such an inspiration! I too want my little girls to learn homemaking and life-skills. It's amazing what they are even able to do at just 4 years old!

Please give Abigail a huge "congratulations" from me and tell her that she is an inpiration just like her mommy. Oh, and tell her to keep cooking!!!

Christy said...

THIS is why I am looking forward to homeschooling! The opportunity and the time to be able to let your child bake breakfast for her siblings is so precious.

I was taught at a VERY early age to cook and clean and while there were times in my childhood I resented it, I am SO grateful now. It is because of those skills that my house is an orderly, clean, COMFORTABLE place to live. Well...most of the time LOL.

I am rambling, but my point is I am so happy for your girls that you are willing to teach them, that you are teaching them and that you trust them enough to let go and let them learn!

Momma Roar said...

That is so great! (and I agree, I like the older style cookbook look better too)!

I can't wait until mine are old enough to begin cooking/baking. Right now, they are big helpers with mashing and adding ingredients to my mixer. Elle can even get out all the ingredients to make pb&j sandwiches! I let both her and Quintin spread the pb & j and they do a great job. They aren't at the point of cleaning that up - but they know to clean up their plates when they are done eating!

I think these are all very useful skills too - what a blessing for your children to learn these things - things that they can always do for a lifetime!

Mimi said...

I think it is wonderful when mothers take the time and effort to teach their children how to take care of a household...
it is very valuable learning in order for them to be productive adults

Tracy said...

I'm sure that your daughter felt on top of the world.

Thanks for this post. It is a good reminder to me that I need to trust my own 10 & 11 year old daughters in my kitchen too. I started cooking at about that age.

It'll take for me to be deliberate about letting go a little bit of the control in that department.

Stacie said...

Abigail's cookbook is really cool! Looks like she did a good job. The cookies look yummy! =)

I hope Autumn enjoys her cake decorating classes! I bet she will be really good at it! I thought the one I took was really fun! We will have to get together and decorate another cake! Maye we will put another "Sound of Music " lyric on it. lol

Jennifer said...

I'm taking notes... literally :o)

We don't have kids yet... but I love how you get your kids involved and let them learn such important life skills.

Becky said...

Breakfast cookies! What a great idea for a child to pitch in. I love it.

She is learning those wonderful skills young, and I applaude you for teaching her.

They look delicous by the way.

Sharon said...

You are a wonderful mother and teacher Tracy!
Abigail's cookies look yummy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks very interesting

~~ said...

Wow, I'm impressed! What a treasure you have given your daughters teaching them the old arts of cooking, sewing, cleaning , knitting and the like.