On several occasions recently, I have considered the amazing learning opportunities which arise during everyday activities, and have reflected on how, if you choose to rush from one thing to the next and never really spend time on these, that these opportunities are lost. My boys and I were making an apron for my husband (our recent wedding anniversary was number 13, and the ‘modern’ gift option was ‘textiles’. The boys also thought he needed an apron as they are very proud of theirs). Around a photo of the boys in their baking outfits, we printed words to summarise what ‘daddy in the kitchen’ means to us. These included:
Teacher: Many aspects of cooking and baking can be taught. Recipes need to be read and understood.
Demonstrator: As he shows how things should be done
Chef: That one goes without saying
Artist: As he shows how to arrange things beautifully and make a meal look (as well as taste) fantastic
Economist: As they go shopping and make appropriate choices
Nutritionalist: As consideration goes into making each meal balanced
Chemist: The different interactions whereby the addition or omission of an ingredient can make a key difference
Physicist: Why does a cake rise? Why do some flop? What is ice? What is steam? Why is cooking with gas better in some circumstances, but electricity better in others?
Mathematician: Measurement is precise. Numbers need to be understood.
Biologist: How does yeast make bread rise? Why milk go thick when making yoghurt? How do you make blue cheese? Which vegetables are seasonal? How does fruit ripen? Why are there seeds inside this?
Inspiration: Because that is what he is, as he patiently and enthusiastically embraces his role as father
I could write something similar about many of the day-to-day activities which most of us are engaged in. To me, this is one of the great beauties of home education, in that children learn without even realising they are doing so. There is no formality, no clear transition between ‘school’ and ‘fun’ and ‘the rest of life’. It is seamless, and we all live, learn and grow together as a family. I often hear comments such as, ‘I would find home education too much hard work’, or when I talk about something we have done together as a family, ‘I wish we had time for these things’. Sometimes others say, ‘I wish we could afford to work part-time and spend more time with the family’, yet when you look at their lifestyles, they are spending a lot on external ‘activities’ for their children. I hope you can see, from the example of cooking, that this does not need to be hard work, does not need to incur huge expenses, and can be a great opportunity for children to develop in a wide range of disciplines and subjects.