We all know the holidays are a great way to build memories and traditions with your little ones but did you also know you can help your child learn and develop skills while doing so?! One of my favorite holiday traditions is baking cookies! Not only do you and your family get to eat yummy holiday treats but you can also help progress your child's development in the process.
Below are some skill areas you can address while you and your child make your favorite holiday cookies together:
• Executive Functioning: If need to purchase ingredients, have your child help take inventory of the ingredients you already have and write a list of the ingredients you need to buy from the store. Your child will also have to work on planning and organizational skills as they set up the cooking space with all the materials/ingredients and keep it all organized throughout the baking process. You can even work on time management skills to see if your child can complete the recipe within the estimated "total time" listed on the recipe.
• Following Directions: You can modify this activity depending on your child's age/ability by giving them 1-2 directions at a time or giving them the entire written recipe to follow. If your child has difficulty following verbal directions, you can model steps for them or provide some physical assistance as needed.
• Strengthening and Bilateral Coordination: Stirring ingredients in a bowl, rolling out the dough, pushing cookie cutters, and squeezing/spreading frosting are great ways to improve your child's strength and ability to use two hands simultaneously. If you notice your child is only using one hand to complete these activities, you can verbally or physically remind them to use their non-dominant hand to hold the bowl while stirring or hold the cookie stable while spreading frosting, etc.
• Fine Motor, Visual Motor, and Visual Perceptual Skills: Once the cookies are baked and cooled, have your child make designs on the cookies with sprinkles and frosting. You can either have them use their own creativity or challenge their visual motor/visual perceptual skills by having them copy your design or a design they find online.
• Tactile Exploration: Flour, sugar, and eggs OH MY! We all know baking can make a mess, but if your child tends to avoid getting messy, this is a great way to explore various textures in a fun and motivating way! Make sure you are getting your hands messy with them so they are even more motivated to explore.
Finally, have fun and enjoy making memories with your family this holiday! If your child’s development in any of these areas above are in question, schedule a free consultation with one of FYZICAL’s Pediatric Therapists. Call 402-504-3783.
Julia Hummel, OTD, OTR/L
FYZICAL Pediatric Therapy Center
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