Spontaneous Learning

People often look a bit baffled when I try to explain how a lot of learning happens spontaneously, springing from what we are doing in the moment by living our lives. I don't really plan a great deal. Usually, spontaneous learning is the best and it is when I am trying to follow my own plans - and the boys are not particularly engaged - that things don't go so well. The other day, we experienced a great example of spontaneous learning, and I thought I would share it here to give you an idea of how it can happen. It was a sunny morning and I looked out of the window and noticed that the vegetable patch was a little over-run and in need of harvesting and tidying up. Also some of the flowers had finished blooming and needed cutting back. My second son was at home and he is the one most interested in gardening. (His elder brother is now at school, and our third son was with his grandparents.) So I gave him a shout and he came out a few minutes later to give me a hand. Seeing what I was doing, he soon joined in. Our toddler was roaming about as we worked. He found his courgettes had done really well and there were several ripe for the picking.

Some of his crops were a bit disappointing so we cut those back and also picked some spinach and beans. He sorted and washed the spinach and then we thought about what we could do with the courgettes.

We pulled out the cookery books and decided to have a go at making a courgette cake. The recipe included a filling of lime curd, which we also needed to make. My son made the shopping list and we went to the local supermarket to buy all our ingredients. He then followed the recipe to make the cake, curd and icing, reading, measuring, weighing, estimating and counting. Baby brother went for a good nap, so we had some good one-on-one time. He was especially proud of the lime curd, and expressed a desire to try making custard another day. The cake proved an interesting experiment, actually better a day or two later.

We then decided to make a courgette carbonara dish for dinner, which was very tasty.

I always smile to myself when I hear about cooking lessons in school, the theory that has to be done before any practical cookery can take place and all the concerns about tools and health and safety. In the real world, meals need to be prepared and our children can be involved with that. Not only are organisational, reading, writing and mathematical skills involved, but they have the satisfaction of preparing delicious food for their family to enjoy - and the confidence and life skills of knowing they can do that!