There are some valuable lessons kids can learn on Thanksgiving. There is so much that goes into making a good holiday meal.
And there is a lot of budgeting, shopping and cooking that goes on before you get to enjoy the turkey. So get your kids involved in every aspect of this family get together. Educators say that it can be very beneficial.
“The thing that works most effectively to making education an ongoing part of your life is making it fun and making it practical,” said Mike Sullivan, executive director of the Lubbock, Wichita Falls and Abilene Sylvan Learning Center offices.
And without the pressure of tests or quizzes during the break from school, there are many ways for students and their parents to do so creatively during the holiday season.
“Just the holiday meal itself can be an awesome learning experience for kids — regardless of their age,” Sullivan said. “You can involve children of all ages in the math that’s involved in grocery shopping. Start making grocery lists. Have some type of a budget as you’re going through the store.”
Math isn’t the only practical skill that shows up in the shopping. Reading and important critical thinking skills are needed as well. For instance, Sullivan said size, price and brand reliability are all things to consider when piecing together the turkey, mashed potatoes and all the fixings.
Reading and more opportunities for math come into play during cooking time, too. Gracie Buchanan, president of the Miller Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association, said she incorporates both the oven timer and measuring cups into lessons while cooking with her children.
“Lots of times, kids work better when they’re actually touching it,” said Buchanan, whose four children range in age from 7 to 13. “I think cooking together is great. You talk to your kids, lots of times you’re rushing here and there, and when you’re actually making something they’ll remember it.”
Another practical skill is the concept of taking a big project and breaking it down into smaller tasks — as can be seen in the Thanksgiving meal itself, Sullivan said.
“That’s a life skill,” he said. “What are the different steps that I need to take to get the particular outcome?”
But the lessons don’t stop in the kitchen.
Going to grandma’s house for the day? Have children read highway signs out loud, Sullivan suggested. Older children can take the learning experience a step further by dividing the number of miles in the trip by the speed at which the car is traveling to find out how long the drive will take.
Football and family
Children also can practice their math skills while glued to the TV cheering for their favorite football team.
Adding the score was Sullivan’s first suggestion.
“The football field is 100 yards. How many first downs do you have to get if the first down is 10 yards? What kind of choices do you make when it’s third (down) and one (yard to go)? Any of that stuff,” Sullivan said.
Lisa Leach — assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Lubbock Independent School District — said there are also many learning opportunities that can be gleaned from children having extra time to spend with adults and out-of-town family members over the holidays.
“I think that children are learning all the time, and they learn particularly well when the learning is relevant,” Leach said.
“When you have learning opportunities tied to family activities and family events, it makes the learning richer. Cooking, of course, is such a major focus with Thanksgiving, and then just being able to have the oral language opportunities that being around family members gives you.
I think a lot of times kids are kind of shoved off to the side, but there’s so much the kids can learn from being around the extended family.”