Cooking is a wonderful tool to teach our children not merely Life Skills that will keep their bellies full and happy but also a method to teach them Etiquette and Social Skills as well. Raising a son, I want him to be a true Gentleman. He will hold the door open for others. He will pull out my chair on special occasions. He will say please and thank you. While these may seem like simple things, to me chivalry is a lost moral code in a world that desperately needs men of honor, integrity, and good manners.
Before my son was diagnosed with Autism, we worked on having him make eye contact whenever he spoke to someone. It was a common courtesy that I felt he needed to learn. When we went out to restaurants to eat, we would eventually have to remind my son to use his inside voice and not his outside voice. He's sixteen now and there are times he still needs to be reminded to talk in softer tones. Recently, we ate at a public restaurant and were seated near some older ladies. These ladies were talking very loudly. My son was amazed by how loudly they were speaking and how easily we could hear every detail of their conversation. He finally understood why we've asked him to use his inside voice.
There are just certain things you do NOT do at the dinner table. You don't slurp your soup. You don't eat with your fingers (unless you are served finger food like burgers and fries or pizza). You don't pick your nose or blow your nose. You don't talk about disgusting topics. You don't play with your food. You don't have food fights. You don't talk with your mouth full. These are all manners that children are taught.
In our modern age, people have become attached to cell phones. Mealtime is one time that cell phones should be powered down. Neither children nor adults should talk or text while eating.
Home Economics is not just a class where girls learn how to be wives and mothers. It is a class where boys can also learn how to cook, clean, do laundry, set a table properly, sew (hem, replace a button), and iron. (As an aside, I think it is just as important for girls to learn how to change a tire, how to change the oil in their car and refill the window washer fluid as well as to be able to use a basic tools to do minor repairs.)
Finally, cooking is a great opportunity for families to bond. Cooking can be fun. It is a time when families gather together and while they prepare food and eat, they converse. They talk about important things that happened during their day. They talk about future plans. Family meals are great opportunities for children to learn Social Skills. When we go out to eat, I make my son order his own meal. He isn't overly thrilled with having to speak with a stranger. However, it is an opportunity for him to utilize his Social Skills. He needs to make eye contact, speak loudly and clearly, and think through what he wants. This can be quite a challenge for a shy boy who struggles socially due to Autism. Yet, each time he succeeds, he builds confidence. Social Skills are an essential part of our every day lives, which is why a family dinner table is the best and safest place to help your child start building them.
Homeschool Review Crew site to see what other members have shared about cooking their way through school!