Back to Practical Life: Making scones


As the semester progressed last Fall, I started feeling more and more unhappy because Astroboy was fighting the work period.  I would too if my teacher asked me to do the same thing every day.  For me, I had wanted to read to him daily and do Sagebooks.    But it is no fun when it’s a must-do rather than a choice.

I was also reminded of how important it is to do practical life with the children watching Waldorf Mama work with her children.  In Montessori, Practical Life is the foundation for all primary work because it cultivates concentration and trains the hands.  While I knew that, I again was not following the philosophy because I felt anxious about the Chinese and not meeting his needs in math.

Sometimes I know that whatever it is I’m doing isn’t what I want to do, but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself from the momentum I gathered.  But as always, a pause in homeschooling during the holidays provided an opportunity for me to reset myself.

For the new year, my New Year Resolution is to 1) not be on the computer during the work period and 2) do more practical life with Astroboy to help him with his fine motor skills.   It is hard not being on the computer because sometimes I run off to print a worksheet or look up some information and that turns into a 3 hour trip on the Internet.  However, cooking is a sure way for me to not look at the computer.

Today, Astroboy and I made scones.   My good friend Glass Mama also Montessori homeschools and once I watched her having her 5-year old child show us how to make Dutch pancakes.  Watching him opening ovens and putting in a hot cast iron pot, scampering up their counter to take down a super large plate, and bringing said plate to the table in an off-handed manner nearly gave me a heart attack.  But he didn’t break any plates nor burn himself.

I realized that I have to give the children more credit.  It’s obviously a judgement call.  But if they’re shown the proper way and slowly work up to it, they can do more than what I think they can.  The other thing is environment.  Without an environment designed for children’s height level, tools designed for their smaller hands (For Small Hands is a good resource) it is often hard for children to cook.

The third is trust.  I forget that it took me years of practice to reach the fine and neat movements I use in cooking.   Especially in the beginning, their motor movements are very rough and jerky.  It’s taken me quite a few years to accept this as the norm, not something to correct.  It takes a lot of will to stop myself when I see them not beating the eggs properly or having trouble opening cans or cutting apples, to bite my tongue and not offer my help or tell them it is a hard thing to do.  (I don’t want them to whine and say “This is hard!” and yet I find myself telling them that all the time!)   Pausing that extra 5-10 seconds before I butt in has helped.


So yes, we made chocolate chip scones today bought from Trader Joe’s today.  I curbed my impatience and had Astroboy stir the dough and scoop them onto the baking sheet.   I even had him put the pan into a warmed up oven by himself, my first.   I did take it out of the oven for him though.

And then I ended up munching on most of them throughout the day because they were so delicious!


  • Chocolate chip scones –  巧克力司康餅 qiao3 ke4 li4 si kang bing




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