By Ashley Allgood
When my kids were little one of their favorite things to do was play restaurant.
I have fond memories of playing this myself. I remember my friends and I would rename soda crackers as shrimp in our fancy restaurant. We’d go all out, sitting in a dining room, holding a piece of paper and pretending it was a fancy menu. All of this was so real in my imagination,I was eager to do the same for my kids.
I got the idea one day to turn lunch time into lesson time.
I think my oldest was around eight years old, and I told her she would be the waiter. Together, we created a menu based on what we had in our house. I took a folder and taped paper inside. My daughter wrote “The Allgood Restaurant” at the top, and then we listed the drinks and meals in our restaurant. My daughter drew pictures of the food. We then made up prices for each item. I could have gotten very technical and figured out the cost of each slice of bread, cheese, or water, but I didn’t.
The idea was for my daughter to take orders from her younger sister and brother, then bring them to me so I could make them.
I was wrong…my daughter wanted to be the cook too. I was tempted to say no. I wanted lunch to get over so I could do other things and put her brother and sister down for a nap. Then I remembered reading a long time ago, that it was best to let kids learn how to do things on their own. Learning to fix lunch for four people is a lesson in its’ own. So I backed off and let her do it. Of course, this took some time and I learned a lesson in patience.
Once my daughter had lunch made for all of us, we would eat, and then she would get back up and play waitress again.
I would sit back as her brother and sister gave feedback on the meal, asked for dessert, and then eventually the time came to total up the meal. I would watch as my kids pretended to pay and watched in surprise as my daughter cleaned off the table on her own, without being asked. She said that was the job of a waitress.
I checked my daughter’s math and writing skills on the “order” form.
I made sure I praised her in how well she worked, and praise her writing too. I helped her spot any mistakes and tell her how to avoid them next time. She’d tell me how much fun she had and how she wanted to do it again tomorrow.
Then I heard my middle daughter say “My turn!”
Playing restaurant turned out to be a fun lesson for my kids.
Your kids’ ages depends on how you play. You can get really creative or just print out a standard menu template on your computer. You can let each child take turns throughout the three meals of the day, or break it up into one child a day. Or, even just do this whenever you feel like it. For us it became something we did daily at lunch time until my kids grew tired of it. I’d often catch them playing it alone upstairs or at snack time.
Best of all, most young kids don’t even know they are learning when they play. So open your own family restaurant today and have fun.
Ashley Allgood is a Christian wife married twenty-one years to Michael. They have three children aged twenty, sixteen and fourteen. They live in Georgia where they homeschool their children. Ashley is a distributor for Young Living oils. Ashley has always loved writing and story-telling. Read her blog Thoughts Of Faith – mythoughtsoffaith.blogspot.com