Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and writer at Steady Mom
About a month ago, I started teaching my children to bake. For years they have watched and “helped” me in the kitchen, standing around the center island with their own mixing bowls. But recently I felt my kids were ready to bake on their own.
I expected this would be fun–but I had no idea how much of a positive impact it would have on our homeschool.
Baking is now a core component of our school day on Tuesdays. (Doesn’t this bring to mind Little House?!)
“Ma used to say: Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, Rest on Sunday. Laura liked the churning and the baking days best of all the week.”
– Little House in the Big Woods
Want to know how and why we’ve added baking to our curriculum?
Haven’t you noticed that kids around age 8 desperately want to act “grown up?” Many aspects of adult life still lie outside their reach, and that frustrates them.
The idea of baking and cooking without assistance connects with the deep yearning they have for more freedom and responsibility. In a homeschool setting, we can easily give them this chance to spread their wings!
Much of our family’s homeschooling philosophy comes from the principles of Thomas Jefferson Education.
Two out of three of my kids are currently starting to move from the first phase of learning, called Core Phase, into the second, called Love of Learning.
As its name suggests, love of learning phase is all about falling deeply in love with learning–learning that which excites them as students. And what kid doesn’t find chocolate chip cookies exciting? I rest my case.
The start of adult skills
After we finish this class, I plan to introduce a cooking class, then a household cleaning class, and so on.
Our baking course is therefore the start of learning adult skills. (My children already help with meals and cleaning, but these will be more formal, structured lessons.)
Venturing into formal learning
As you’ll see below, our baking class is fairly structured. As an interest-led homeschooler, most of our learning is informal. With these adult skills classes, I’m paving the way toward more formal learning in the future–but in a way that still inspires and connects with my children.
As I watch Trishna and Jonathan read recipes aloud, concentrate and focus on their task, and measure ingredients, I am deeply convinced that this activity “counts as homeschooling.”
The initial idea for adult skills classes came from the book A Thomas Jefferson Home Companion–I then adapted the concept to what works best for our family. For those just beginning to learn about Thomas Jefferson Education, I recommend reading Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning first.
1. Each child over the age of eight is “invited” to enroll in the class.
I invited each child separately to have a tea time in front of the fire with Mommy. I did my best to make it an inspirational moment, explained the baking classes to them, presented them with their binder (see below), and asked if they’d like to participate.
Trishna (age 9) and Jonathan (age 8) are currently taking baking lessons with me (individually, not at the same time). Elijah (age 7) knows his turn will come soon, and I made him a binder too–though it’s empty at the moment–so he wouldn’t feel left out.
2. Present the child with a binder.
This binder holds the syllabus for the class, recipes as the child progresses, and information for any adult skills classes they take in the future.
3. Get baking!
I made a list of ten items that we’ll learn to bake. The children make each recipe three times: once with me teaching, once with me there to help as needed, and once all on their own!
This means that it will take us about 30 weeks to finish this class. I sign off in their binder when we complete each week’s lesson.
Note from Jamie: Check out my follow up post, Recipes to bake with your kids, for links to the specific recipes we use and love.
We agreed that when they can make all ten items without help, they graduate!
To celebrate, we will host a party for them where they can invite friends and bake all the treats themselves to show off their new skills. Steve and I will also buy them their own apron as a graduation gift–fun, right?!
It’s simple to create your own, but you’re welcome to download and print out the baking “syllabus” we’re using. Enjoy!
I’m stunned to see that my eight-year-old son can make three loaves of bread from scratch, and I watched in awe as my daughter whipped up her first batch of chocolate chip cookies. Now this is my idea of a living education!
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How have you integrated learning adult skills into your homeschool?
This post originally published on November 12, 2012.