Lunch Lessons

Several years ago, my wife and I set up a whiteboard in the kitchen and began using it to teach various topics to the kids during mealtimes.

A lunch lesson in progress, on fingerprints

Eventually, we started taking pictures of the whiteboards and posting them on instagram. We aren’t really trying to gain followers or anything. Our audience is our kids, not randos on Instagram. The account is nice though because it helps keep us accountable. It also creates a record of what we’ve discussed (which motivates us to not be sloppy).

We don’t have a specific curriculum. We just choose whatever topics we’re interested in. Sometimes that’s math or grammar, but more often it’s things you wouldn’t learn in school. Many are life skills, like oven tips or video call etiquette. Sometimes, it’s inspired by something I recently learned in a book or article (like this one on Pascal’s Triangle).

A good whiteboard is visual, succinct, and engaging. Here are some of my favorites:

Some days are better than others. It’s frustrating to try and teach something when the kids are busy fighting over who gets the last taquito. And with ages ranging from 3 to 11 it’s difficult to teach anything in a way that’s engaging to everyone.

But when it works, it works. Some whiteboards have become household catchphrases, like “Don’t be Pedantic!” and “The hard road leads to the easy life.” Whenever we want to seed a new concept or principle these days, we start with a whiteboard (like “We carry our own weight”). Past whiteboard photos have been printed into a binder which sits on the kids bookshelf and we often find ourselves referencing them (yesterday we revisited consent, when a kid didn’t want to be tickled).

Most of all, I like having a recurring space for family conversations. Now if anything important needs to be discussed, it doesn’t have to be an awkward “family meeting” that nobody wants to be at. It’s just another lunch lesson.