I first connected with wonder woman Rani on Instagram. I remember reading her blog Big Life Tribe and being impressed with the fact she:
a) has four kids under four,
b) homeschools said kids, and
c) is so effortless at it all.
Then, as we spend time talking between Rani taking her kids to doctor’s appointments and getting lunch ready, I added a point d) to that list:
d) this Florida mom is also deeply invested in her kids learning to cook from a young age.
Home schooling and cooking
Rani is committed to consistently getting her kids involved in the kitchen. Her four kids even benefit from their mom going the extra mile by extending their school assignments to cooking.
“We don’t have a strict curriculum as my eldest is only 4, but we focus on fine motor-skills and practical math skills.” says Rani.
For example math, for the most part, is done in the kitchen. With the 3-year-old doing the counting and the 4-year-old organizing the measuring, the learning becomes instantly applicable.
“I try not to make it a drag to learn and try to keep it fun.” says the mom of four.
Her motto is to do as much hands-on learning as possible and it doesn’t get more hands-on than cooking.
How the library helps with cooking
When the family started working in the kitchen together, Rani would choose really simple recipes that only required 3 ingredients.
The success of the activity was immediate so, as the kids became more proficient in the art of cooking, she slowly expanded the cooking activity by adding extra recipes.
Rani made a point of letting them take part in the entire process. From meal planning to shopping to cooking.
This group of 5 joined their local library and as they browsed through different cookbooks Rani would include the kids in choosing their next recipe based on the pictures.
Grocery shopping with little kids
Shopping for groceries is an important life skill Rani teaches her kids from a young age as well. She makes a point of going to fresh markets and buying local ingredients. .
“Every week we’ll pick out a recipe and the older kids will get to help me buy the ingredients.” says Rani.
Although it requires some preparation – Rani prints out pictures of the ingredients as the kids’ shopping lists – the kids love going around the shops and finding their foods. It’s almost like a treasure hunt.
Rani observes “I get some weird looks in the grocery store sometimes – I guess some people don’t like including their kids in shopping.”
Fortunately she doesn’t let it stop her from making sure her kids are learning real-world skills .
The positive effect of cooking on the kids
Since starting to teach her kids the ropes, she’s noticed the hugely positive impact it’s had. They are very confident little cooks and have become quite independent in the kitchen.
“I love seeing how confidently my 4-year-old cuts his own vegetables and uses kitchen tools responsibly.”
The kids pride in their work is also clear in their enthusiasm for their own dishes. They can’t wait to show their dad what they’ve made as soon as he gets home from work.
Rani’s husband loves seeing his kids being so independent in the kitchen. Although he didn’t grow up learning how to cook, he encourages it in his own kids.
When dad comes home he’ll do fun things with the kids, like bake pizza together. As he works a lot the home team make a special effort to send pictures of their daily cooking adventures.
“The kids LOVE it when people eat their food. They are so proud of themselves and the fact they’ve done it on their own.”
Rani makes a big deal out of their accomplishments as cooks so the kids can tell from her reaction that they’ve done something great!
I’m looking forward to seeing how she will include cooking in to their home and school life.
Photos c/o Big Tribe Life