Home / Education / Should We Teach Children Basic DIY Skills, Cooking and Growing Vegetables?

In the UK, there has been a steady decline in DIY skills over the last 50 years. Between the 1970s and the end of the 1990s, the percentage of men learning DIY skills from their fathers dropped from 71% to 44%. New research from 2017 suggests that the percentage now sits at just 15% for men and women. In stark contrast to the research, 86% of parents think that DIY skills are an important part of a child’s education.
In today’s culture, many people don’t depend on fundamental DIY skills in the same way that they once had to. It’s never been easier to hire a trade expert to perform basic DIY jobs for you, but does that mean that DIY no longer has a place in education?
Just like DIY, there’s less of a reliance on cooking in today’s culture, with so many ready-prepared meals on the market. However, for excellent nutrition in later life, cooking and growing vegetables are important factors to consider in early education. So, should schools be teaching these life skills as essential aspects of a well-rounded curriculum?


What Are Students Taught About DIY, Cooking and Growing Vegetables?

In the national curriculum for schools in England, there has been some provision made for cooking and DIY skills. Design and technology is a foundation subject, and in accordance with the national curriculum, schools must teach it to children between key stage 1 and key stage 3. Students in key stage 4 also have an entitlement to study design and technology if they wish.
In key stage 3, design and technology classes cover domestic, local, and industrial concepts. Included in the curriculum are requirements to teach children cooking, nutrition, and some DIY. However, this doesn’t include growing vegetables or every basic DIY skill.


Why Life Skills Are Important?

Cooking and DIY skills are both generally considered to be life skills, just like first-aid and money skills. Cooking is virtually essential in later life to some degree, but it also teaches other skills like nutrition and the importance of having a healthy diet – children who know how to cook before eight years old have a 50% higher chance of having a healthy diet. People often need DIY skills in later life but learning the skills can also encourage creativity and problem-solving development, amongst many other skills.
Growing vegetables, whilst not considered as a vital life skill by a surprising amount of people, still teaches some important lessons. It can teach children about nutrition, the plant cycle, where their food comes from, and about organisation and patience. Schools can also incorporate the benefits of school gardens into other subjects, such as science, art, and mathematics.


Is the National Curriculum Comprehensive Enough?

DIY skills, cooking, and growing vegetables are not absent practices from schools in the UK. Many schools not only teach the required subjects, but also go beyond this to give children a more diverse education. School-wide incentives, like maintaining a garden or allotment, help with this. However, the extent of the commitment to these diverse educational opportunities range from school to school.
While cultures have changed, there’s still a great importance in learning skills, like cooking, DIY, and growing food. These skills can help children to lead healthier and more independent lives in the future.


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