Involving children in routine activities provides more then just a good way to spend quality time together. It's also a powerful opportunity to develop important life skills in a meaningful, hands-on way. Parents are often in so much of a hurry to just get things done that they fail to make this investment. Never underestimate the dramatic benefit you has a parent can have on the bottom line with your child's development. The missing link between theoretical, book-learning compared to hands-on, applied learning is relevancy. Learning about an abstract concept like the number 100 on paper is not intuitively understood. Seeing, feeling and counting 100 flowers provides much more appreciation for the concept then just seeing the number 100 on paper. While this fact is recognize by educators, don't rely on the system to compensate for the role parents should be playing. There is only so much quality time an overburdened teacher can do with 17 or more kids to take care of. Children will often surprise you with their capabilities. In an age appropriate fashion, introducing progressively challenging tasks is exactly what parents should be doing do. Children love to help out and feel needed. This is where the cookies come in. I enjoy the whole experience...planning, shopping, preparing and eating. The life skills they learn in simple domestic tasks is amazing. I encourage my daughter to take part in the whole process. Since her penmanship is not something to be proud, guess who gets to write the shopping list? During that time, we discuss what things we might need. If we are working on a specific recipe, I let her check the pantry, count the eggs, assess how much milk is in the jug etc. If she is unsure about something, I will answer her question with another question. For example, if she is unsure if there is enough milk, I will have her read the recipe, "2 cups daddy." O.K., here's a measuring cup. Are there two of these inside the jug? "Yes." Are we going to need more milk soon, like maybe for breakfast tomorrow? "Yes." So we should probably buy more milk now while we are out. If we have 8 eggs and need only 2 I will ask if she thinks it is reasonable that 6 eggs will due till the next trip. -This allows her to build her common sense and good judgment. If she gets something wrong, I just gently offer her a more reasonable alternative. It is during those times where you are likely to experience what educators call "teachable moments." That's when everything comes together to make learning possible; the student is rested, interested, excited and engaged. For maximum enjoyment, ensure sure you get the timing right -always keep that in mind. There's no progress to be made dragging a tired, cranky kid through the store. This is not something that can or should be forced. FUN is the key word. While there, talk about everything you see. Discuss where it was made and try drawing the big picture for them. It's like a story that never ends as you add to it over time as the child's interest and awareness grows. It makes it more fun if the child knows where products come from and how many people had to work to produce it. Makes them enjoy it more and I find the food tastes better too. Honestly, this takes time. It could be 3 hours before you're eating a cookie made from scratch. It gives kids a real sense of achievement and appreciation for how much effort goes into the simplest things. Even a cookie is hard work. Be patient. Kids get tired, bored and distracted. If you can't keep their interest through the whole process, just try to let them go on a high note, after finishing some aspect properly. Next time they'll make it further. The kitchen is a fun place to learn and best of all, a cookie never tasted so good.


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