Plus 8 Ways To Help Them Build These Skills.
By Elisa Isabella-Valenzi, M.S.,CCC-SLP
Cooking with kids is one of the most fun, easiest, and functional ways to embed language development into daily life. It encompasses a multitude of skills and therefore allows for many opportunities to learn at a wide range of levels.
With cooking, you can:
1. Teach a non-verbal child one of his/her first words: “more”.
2. Teach functional vocabulary through enactment: Pour, cut, mix...
3. Teach sequencing: First we heat the oven, then we mix all the ingredients, then we shape the cookies and bake them in the oven until the timer goes off, and last we take them out of the oven to cool.
4. Facilitate problem solving: The water spilled, we need to get paper towel to wipe it up, the spatula is dirty, we need to wash it before using it, the pan is hot, we need oven mitts to pick it up, the ice-cream needs to stay frozen, we need to put it back in the freezer...
5. Teach convergent thinking skills: Give your child all the necessary materials, eggs, flour, sugar and have them determine what we are going to make.
6. Teach divergent thinking skills: Find multiple ways to get to the same end result or use multiple tools for the same purpose. For example, finding different tools to stir a batter (spoon, whisk, spatula, fork).
7. Teach causality: If you spill water on the table, it becomes wet, by putting chocolate in the microwave, it melts. This can be targeted at a basic level, having the child state. “I spill water, wet table” or having them state the entire causal statement “The table is wet because I spilled the water,” if appropriate.
8. Teach likes vs. dislikes within themselves and others: Learning to read people’s facial expressions and supporting a conclusion with evidence. For example “ I know ____ likes the cookie because she’s smiling and eating it all/ I know _____ doesn’t like the cookie because he threw it in the garbage...”
The most important thing is to make the activity fun. You and your little one will bond over the experience and they will work on their language skills while also learning to cook! For more recipes, check out our Pinterest board:
Elisa received her Bachelor and Master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University. She is certified by the American Speech and Language Hearing Association. She has experience working with adults, adolescents and children with a range of physical, neurological and developmental disabilities. She has worked in the medical setting, home-based setting and public school setting in CT. She has been working at the Communication Clinic of Connecticut since May 2011. She is trained in PROMPT, Beckman Oral Motor Protocol and has experience with American Sign Language as well as developing communication skills through the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication.