Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Five reasons to get baking with the kids this Christmas

Christmas Star Biscuits with icing

Ask anybody what the benefits of baking with the kids are and they’ll tell you that’s obvious, you get to eat lots of delicious cakes at the end of it. True, that is one of the great benefits of baking with your children, but that’s only the end result. There’s so much that they can learn along the way and it’ll actually improve their skills and learning in a lot of different ways that you may not have considered. And Christmas is a great time to start and take advantage of more than just yummy outcomes.

1. Following Instructions

Following instructions can be really challenging for some kids, and particularly if like ours yours kids have autism, ADHD or a related condition.  But being able to follow instructions is pretty essential as part of daily living skills.  For children, it means following instructions that parents and other adults give them to start with and then possibly advancing on to being able to read instructions and follow instructions themselves.  We started off with a simple penguin cake mix that involved few instructions and common ingredients.  True it may not be some of the Great British Bake Off Recipes just yet, but start of simple and who knows where you could get to.

2. Planning and waiting 

Baking is all about precision and one of the most common tips that people give is always read the recipe and prepare the ingredients beforehand. That’s because everything needs to be done in a very specific order, at the right time.  For some kids, particularly those with ADHD, planning and organisational skills are helpful to get through daily life.  It breaks jobs down into steps and helps with the idea of planning ahead rather than just diving into things without any idea what they’re supposed to be doing.

Part of planning can also involve waiting for periods of time.  Our younger son David, is pre-verbal and wouldn't currently understand about planning, but he can be frustrated while cakes aren't cooking for example. This gives him an opportunity to practice waiting, just like if he had to wait his turn for something. A visual timer or holding a 'wait token' could help him hold still for long enough until the baking is ready.


3. Maths

Maths skills are important for any child to learn and they’ll get most of that in the classroom. However, putting their skills into practice in everyday life is the best way to really improve and one that many kids struggle with.  Anthony can work things out fine in a maths question but he needs practice to put it into context if it's going to be of value to him.  For some kids, it can involve identifying different shapes and sizes.  When you’re baking, there’s a lot of measuring involved. Simple things can include the kids finding the right number on a measuring jug.  Or if you really want to work their maths skills, deliberately pick recipes that serve a lot of people and get them to help you scale them down.

4. Sensory input

Baking often gives a great opportunity to expand a sensory diet.  Many kids with autism can have difficulties with certain textures but many without autism or other sensory processing conditions can be a bit squeamish around gloopy mixtures.  Other kids can't keep their hands off.

By introducing textures through baking, those who are sensitive to textures can get close and get used to the idea slowly.  Others can get their senses satisfied in a giant mess of Gruffalo Child's Pancake mixture.  Other senses can be engaged too, from smelling spices and ingredients to listening to the oven going or the mixer.  These activities can be helpful for kids to regulate their sensory systems and get on with the rest of the day or learn to cope with what's happening around them.

Child using a fork to make patterns on biscuits

5. Coordination

Coordination is another important skill that they can learn through baking. Bilateral motor skills help you to do advanced tasks with your hands like tying shoelaces and or holding paper and drawing straight lines. When you’re baking, there are all sorts of little tasks like kneading dough, rolling things out and cutting that all improve their bilateral motor skills and will help them to improve those other skills in other areas of life.  Even cutting fruit for Gruffalo Tusks fruit kebabs grows this skill.

Hand-eye coordination and visual spatial awareness is another skill that is important and baking gives them a great opportunity to train it. There is a lot of pouring and sifting involved in baking which needs to be precise, otherwise, they’ll spill it everywhere. Pouring batter into small cupcake cases or sticking seeds into dough to make a hedgehog, for example, is quite a tricky task that will help them to develop better hand-eye coordination skills.

Baking improves your child’s development in so many ways so why not grab some ingredients and get mixing this Christmas?


2 comments:

  1. We home educate and bake a lot but even though I know this helps with learning I don't think I rate us highly enough for doing it so much if that makes any kind of sense. Good to be reminded of so many of the benefits. Popped over from the Mummyinatutu linky

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love baking with my little one and it is something we really enjoy together x
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

    ReplyDelete

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