I have been teaching cooking classes with Explore After 4 (and privately) for some time now. I absolutely love working with kids and teaching them about food. To be truthful, I don’t really understand how people work with adults all day long. I get to see things like the “I’m so happy we’re making chicken fingers” dance, I get hugs and “I love yous” when I walk into class and there is nothing better than when a little one pulls on my apron to tell me they’re “so happy – now [they] can help mom cook dinner!”
One group will stick with me forever. I recently finished teaching a 5-week course at Parkdale Public School. Anyone who knows Toronto will understand my worries walking into Parkdale. It’s not a neighbourhood known for its cleanliness, courteousness or safety. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t concerned for my safety, but after teaching at schools like Annette in High Park, Deer Park in Forest Hill and Branksome Hall in Rosedale, I wondered how the kids in Parkdale would measure up.
My Parkdale students hit the top of the charts and I cannot speak highly enough about the teachers and support staff working there. The class was eager to learn and happy to work. They asked intelligent questions and helped each other in every lesson. They had incredibly positive attitudes and, much to my amazement, said “please” and "thank you” at every turn (without coaxing!). The class was so culturally diverse (Parkdale is a community of many backgrounds including Tibetan, Middle Eastern, Afro-Canadian and Indian) that one might assume there would be cultural stereotypes and barriers to break down, but I found the opposite. Not only were the students completely accepting of each others’ backgrounds and religious beliefs, they were also eager to learn about foods and cultures they were not familiar with. Their interest has sparked my teaching cultural foods lessons in my other schools, and it's going over like gangbusters. Kids today love learning about cultural backgrounds and beliefs that are foreign to them – and they do so without the ethnocentrism we may have seen in the past.
So thank you Parkdale students. Thank you for being so wonderful and gracious to my helper Amanda and myself. Thank you for working so hard and helping each other. Thank you for sharing my interest and passion for food. Thank you for educating me about some of your cultural backgrounds. Thank you for being the most rewarding class I have taught this far – I will remember you throughout my career. I can only hope I brought some interest in food, cooking, baking and culture to you. You all have the intelligence, heart and interest to do anything you want in life.
Kids CraveFood offers in-home cooking classes for children in the GTA – what better way is there to occupy your little one AND get dinner on the table?
Also - check out Explore After 4 if you are interested in having co-curricular classes at your child's school!