MARLBORO — Third graders Kristen Tsim and Daniel Martinez took cookie cutters and pressed them down on slices of cinnamon raisin bread.
A few seats away, students mixed a bowl of blueberries and yogurt, scooping them into plastic cups.
“It’s like we’re real chefs,” Martinez said. “We’re making food like in a restaurant.”
The Robertsville Elementary School bistro is open for business with dozens of students from grades 3 to 5 at the helm. Once a month, they cook snacks or small meals for their peers. Speech therapist Annemarie Hanley, who coordinates the program, says it helps students learn how to apply basic math in a real-life setting and build on intrapersonal communication.
The program also helps students find healthier snack options and learn how to cook — skills that some people two or three times their age say they wish they had learned as children, according to one national survey.
In other words, they’re “adulting.”
Adulting is known as living independently and taking on everyday responsibilities — as adults typically do — such as having a job, taking clothes to the dry cleaner or cooking, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary online.
These are all life skills that the kids should learn at a young age, that way … they know the value of money, they know how to budget, especially if they want to have food for seven days,” said Annmarie Milano, whose 9-year-old son Nick is in the bistro program. “I’m very big on bringing all these skills back into the schools.”
Many young adults wish those basic skills were taught in high school or college, according to a Bank of America/USA Today poll. Most respondents said they wished they had learned more financial topics, with only 41 percent of college attendees surveyed saying higher education taught them sound financial habits and 31 percent saying their high education provided that training. Twelve percent of respondents also said they wished they had learned more about cooking.
There is now an Adulting School in Maine. It offers training on cooking, budgeting and folding fitted bedsheets — as well as similar seminars across the country.
Amy Nardella says her 11-year-old son Dominick Nardella, who has a learning disability, has learned to cook more and started to come out of his shell, which she attributes in part to the bistro program.
“It has reading skills. It has math skills. It gives them kitchen safety,” Nardella said. “It’s very well-rounded, and it gives them a sense of community.”