“Colonial Cuisine” / CNYF Life Recipe Curriculum – 1st Quarter
"Chase, what do you want to learn next year?" "I don't care Mom, as long as it has to do with food."
And thus the framework for Chase’s Life Curriculum was established, and the journey into the homeschooling frontier began.
Because of Chase’s unique circumstances, I couldn’t simply start using any of the existing homeschool materials and resources at their face values. I had to, in a sense, reinvent the wheel when it came to what and how Chase needed to learn, at this stage of his development.
I had to consider and incorporate those subjects that he was behind in – subjects that had not been introduced to him, or he was not able to learn and retain because they had not been presented to him in a way that he could process; and subjects that are necessary for him to learn so he can have a well-rounded understanding of the world, and be able to navigate his way through it confidently, competently, and successfully. But of course, it’s the methods used to nurture and cause learning to happen, that makes all the difference, and can be the most challenging aspect of teaching. As already discussed in previous posts, Chase is a literal thinker, struggles with multi-tasking, and is primarily a visual learner.
In order for Chase to learn something and have it cemented in his brain, it must be rooted in something personally meaningful and positive; have practical and immediate relevance in his life; all of his senses need to be immersed and engaged in the learning process; and repeat, repeat, repeat. Some of us can memorize lists of facts and information simply for the sake of passing a test, and / or might even get genuine joy from such mental exercise; and some are highly motivated in adverse and antagonistic circumstances, and seem to be wired to perform their best when faced with some relative level of crisis.
But neither of those scenarios resonates with Chase. Chase is confounded and frustrated by information that is not useful to him in his everyday life, or in which he has no relational reference point, or emotional interest in. Antagonism, intensely charged and stressful situations are overwhelming to him, and he shuts down. In previous posts I’ve also discussed how there are physiological symptoms associated with his diagnosis that make writing and certain other tasks and mental processes more difficult for him. Asking him to perform those tasks at the “normal” or expected level, is like asking someone who is color blind to perfectly match up a pile of different colored socks. So helping Chase to learn requires a sense of adventure, patience, and a level of creativity that extends far outside the box.
Which full circles us back to FOOD!
Over the next two years, the quarterly themes of Chase’s Life Curriculum will feature the food that is specific to the region or era that is being studied. So in addition to studying significant people, historical events, scientific or medical contributions, natural wonders, and any artistic, musical, or literary contributions Chase will get to explore new food recipes which will help bring the educational experience to life.
The first quarter was titled “Colonial Cuisine”, and the study emphasis was “Colonial America”. One of the most outstanding resources of the quarter was Chef Walter Staib’s Emmy award winning series, “A Taste of History”. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect and effective tool! Chef Staib prepares recipes and meals from Colonial America, using the exact cooking utensils and processes that the colonists used, and he filmed the episodes in the actual homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers. During the shows, Chef Staib talks about Colonial America, and has special guests who are experts in the people, places, and events of that time. He also has a famous restaurant in Philadelphia called The City Tavern, and Chase and I will be going there in January to meet Chef Staib, tour his kitchen, and enjoy a delicious colonial meal. We’ll go from there to Washington D.C. to spend a week touring our nation’s capital, so in preparation for this Chase also watched various DVD’s and answered worksheet questions to familiarize himself with the Presidential Monuments, the White House, Congress, Supreme Court, Pentagon, and even the Secret Service and the FBI. (We’ll be posting about our tour when we return, so stay tuned!)
In keeping with the sensory immersion experience, I took Chase to Riley’s Farm to actually experience how people lived during Colonial times. And we also went to an equestrian park to go horseback riding on a trail, so he would know what it was like to have to travel on horseback from place to place, like they did during Colonial America.
is what's on the menu in the latest installment of Chase's cooking show."
When planning his science experiments, I made sure to select ones that he had missed doing in elementary school, and also involved food items - like making a lava lamp, invisible ink, and testing how different chocolates melt. He also watched DVD lessons and learned about how things are made and packaged for stores, including ice cream treats, fig cookies, candy canes, as well as other non-food items like pinball machines, sombreros, and even waterbeds!
Math is Chase’s least favorite subject, and he is not destined to be a mathematics major and enthusiast, so as long as he continues to progress in the math that the average person needs and uses on a daily basis, he will be a success. Math games, tricks, and practical exercises that help with money, cooking, and figuring out how much, how far, or how much time are all ongoing practice lessons for him.
For reading comprehension and vocabulary building, I had Chase sample the Hardy Boys mystery series. And every subject provided an ample supply of new vocabulary words and concepts.
That 1st quart “Colonial Cuisine” flew by, and now the 2nd quarter “Fusion Cuisine” has already come to a close. Time indeed flies when you’re busy and having fun! Keep an eye out for my next post about our 2nd quarter.