We decided to do a little baking today as we had not done much in the way of practical life lately; life gets busy this time of the year and it becomes more important to make the time to continue with our usual practical life activities. Baking together is something we have been enjoying for quite a while but I have been putting a lot of thought into how to prepare our environment to support Joshua’s budding cooking skills and to encourage independence in the kitchen.
I love cooking – when I’m prepared! We have made our kitchen accessible to Joshua, he has a step stool that is nice and sturdy enough for him to stand up and work on or to stand on to watch while I cook and he snacks. More often than not lately he wants to join in, sample the carrots, drag over the chopping board to see what I am chopping up and sample it or just feel the texture, look at the meat, see when I put things in to cook. All of these observations I feel are helping Joshua toward a natural love of food – he LOVES his food, especially a lovely home cooked meal – and is giving him a real desire to want to participate in the preparation of it. We are lucky enough that both sides of our family have grandparents that are wonderful cooks. Joshua’s Grandpa cooks wonderful traditional Malaysian staples that I grew up on (congee, curries, salads, stir fries, soups, stews) and Joshua’s Nanna and Nonno make wonderful traditional English and European dishes (Turkey, ham, salads, pasta, lasagnes, sweets and desserts). This has given our family a wonderfully diverse range of foods which we have been exposed to and fortunately my husband and I both enjoy both these ranges of food and have exposed Joshua to these from an early age.
Joshua is currently 22 months old. This is a lovely age to start introducing cooking for a variety of reasons:
- Participating in family life – the child has pride in feeling he is contributing toward the family meal.
- Independence – helping build life skills and letting the child do it themselves from an early age.
- Practicing and refining fine motor skills – grating, peeling, chopping, pouring, stirring. What better way to practice than through doing something productive?
- Intrinsic motivation – preparing something for yourself to enjoy and eat and knowing that you are able to do it for yourself.
- Focus and concentration – starting a task, following through and completing a job. A continuance of the non-practical life activities that we do with Joshua at the moment, getting out an activity, preparing it, using it then putting it away after it is finished.
- Exposure to food preparation instils an appreciation for healthy plant foods at a young age which helps to shape healthy eating habits. This is a lifelong appreciation that a child will have for how food is prepared.
- Encourages child to enjoy a wide variety of foods – the best time to encourage this is from a very young age. As Joshua is half Caucasian and half Asian it is very important to me to encourage him to eat and enjoy foods that come from both sides of his heritage.
Today I decided it would be nice to utilise all the little cooking tools I have accumulated for Joshua and let him really do a recipe on his own. We decided to do some banana and strawberry muffins, an easy recipe if we get everything prepared first. I adapted this as a smaller version of a French Yoghurt cake that I make that is smaller portions of it. It is super easy for even the littlest cooks to make and very tasty.
Before commencing I set up the kitchen bench with all of our ingredients and measured them out, talked Joshua through step-by-step what needs to happen and what we are making. And so we began.
Chop up the strawberries. Mash the banana. Stir all the ingredients into the mixing bowl.
Interestingly, in the process there were some parts that Joshua balked at – particularly pouring the flour into the large mixing bowl. I suspect this had little to do with lack of ability and everything to do with his not being able to eat the mashed up banana and strawberries after the flour was poured on top. Joshua enjoys sampling while I am preparing food and today was no exception. It was interesting to observe as I know Joshua loves food and has a deep appreciation for all the ingredients. He also showed a lot of enthusiasm for the finished product!
Once the ingredients were all in and being mixed together, Joshua enjoyed one of the greatest joys of baking – tasting the batter.
We plan on doing a fair bit of baking with the festive season upon us. Next on the cards is gingerbread and shortbread for the family.
We actually made this one again but with mango and strawberries and it was delicious!