Bake and learn with your children.

We have been staying at home most of the time since the announcement of DORSCON Orange in Singapore. As we are more homebound, I have been involving my 2 years old girl and 7.5 years old boy in meal preparations. My boy is a special needs child on the ASD Spectrum, and many of my friends have asked how I manage the siblings’ work during a baking session? There is some prior planning and preparation work, and this is how a particular baking session unfolds in our household.

My girl started baking when she was 18 months old and my boy started baking when he was about 2.5 years old. I agree that in the early years, it is very challenging with a 2.5 years old child on the ASD Spectrum. There were messes and the child might not totally understand given instructions. It was a tiring process, and at the end of the day, one might feel “better to just do it myself than to let the child do the job”. In the long run, the process of baking helps my special needs child regulate himself. He is able to understand verbal instructions better and baking itself helps to feed his sensory needs. Together with his sister, the baking session helps him to learn about turn taking, team work and patience. The more he practises, the more opportunities for him to fine tune his skills, at his own pace.

For a start, I need to lay out the rules. Some examples are “Listen to mummy’s instruction”, or, “Put in the eggs only when mummy says ‘put’ ”. In the initial stage, I used simple instruction cards, such as, “Put eggs”.

Next, I will lay out the ingredients on the table so they can learn the ingredients by name at the same time. The name of the ingredients are written on a stock card, which can be reused later, for a Word Recognition game play. When my boy was younger, I would weigh the ingredients first and put the correct amount in a bowl. Gradually, I moved on to weighing the ingredients together with him so he learned about quantity.

Age appropriate steps to assigned for both my kids and help them understand the value of teamwork. For example, sweet ingredients like sugar will be assigned to the older boy to handle while my younger girl adds salt. My boy will crack open the eggs while my girl beats the eggs. Over time, my 2 years old has picked up flour sifting while her older sibling is put in charge of something else.

When we are done with the preparation and the baking begins in the oven, The cleaning up starts! My older boy will clean the table and wash all the non-breakable baking utensils while my girl helps his older sibling to wipe the utensils.

Have fun baking with your kids!