Independent Baking

As I mentioned in my post about making a recipe book, Em, 7, has just started to become interested in cooking independently. She has long been a great helper in the kitchen and has helped with beating, stirring, breaking eggs (she’s a bit of an expert at this!) and more recently, vegetable peeling and chopping.

She was really keen to try something on her own and we decided that some simple biscuits would be a great starting point. She has quite a few kids’ cookbooks, but I find that for kids starting out, these often contain quite complex recipes that are hard to read and keep track of for beginners.

I remembered I had read an easy recipe on the side of a roll of baking paper and so I fished it out of the cupboard and wrote the recipe down for her on a piece of paper.

I edited it a little, taking out any unnecessary words and putting each step into simple point form. It’s quite a skill to follow a recipe step by step and I just hate the way so many kid’s recipes contain words and steps that aren’t really needed. It just sets kids up for failure and gives them the sense that it’s all too hard. Taking the time to break a recipe down for your child can mean the difference between her completing the task on her own or giving up when it gets too overwhelming.

I edited the recipe so it looked like this:

Fairy Biscuits

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups sifted self-raising flour
  • Pinch salt

  1. Preheat oven 180 C
  2. Melt butter in saucepan
  3. Cool slightly, then add sugar
  4. Beat in egg, vanilla, flour and salt
  5. Roll dough in walnut-sized pieces and place on tray
  6. Flatten with fork
  7. Bake 15 mins
  8. Ice when cool

It’s the recipe from the “Select Baking Paper” by Woolworths, so thanks Woolies!

I wrote it out in quite large print on an A4 piece of paper so it was easy to read and to follow and got Em started by helping her to melt the butter. I’m not quite confident yet that she can manage hot things safely, but she decided when she thought it was melted enough.

Once the butter was done, I left her to it, but hovered around to be there if she needed anything. She had a few questions, but for the most part, she measured, poured and stirred everything else herself according to what she read in her recipe.

She did a fantastic job practicing reading skills, independence, self-help skills, life skills and problem solving, as well as receiving a strong sense of self-achievement, which is a great boost for her self-esteem.

The biscuits turned out beautifully for a first go. A tasty, home-made treat to share with the whole family. YUM!!

Separation Anxiety (Part 2)

We are currently on school holidays which thankfully gives us a little reprieve from our separation anxiety dramas. I though I'd post an update about what's been happening at Kinder drop offs over the last few weeks.

There have been highs and there have been lows. There's also been a bit of vomiting (yuck!!) some runny noses and Ed's first ever bout of asthma, so the quest for a happy drop off has been one step forward and one step back for the most part.

A big part of being happy to go to Kinder is getting used to the idea of going and unfortunately, because he has been having a few days off for being unwell, it's kind of confusing and gets him out of the habit of going.

It meant we had many days of him crying when I left and that's a tough thing to deal with. It's so important to leave quickly when this is happening. I would seek out his teacher (who as I've mentioned has been fantastic), give him a great big hug and kiss and cuddle and reassure him I would be back soon. Then I would leave regardless of how he was responding and not look back, knowing he was with his teacher who was physically and verbally reassuring him and caring for him. I would always get a call within 10 minutes or so to say he'd settled and was happy.

The lowest point was definitely a couple of weeks ago when on a well day (in between the asthma and the second bout of throwing up), I took him to Kinder in his PJs. He was refusing to go, refusing to get dressed and I realised he was testing his boundaries and it was time for me to put my foot down firmly and so I did. I put his clothes and shoes in his bag, carried him out the door screaming and took him to Kinder. He got dressed in the car before he went in whimpering and I left him and then burst into tears when I hopped in the car.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It felt a bit mean, but we had come to a point where I needed to say - "enough of the nonsense, you have to go to Kinder". If you're even contemplating this kind of drastic action, I can recommend a few tips:

- Don't get angry. This is really important. Be firm, but not angry. Let him know you're following through because he has to go to Kinder, not because you're angry. Be reassuring. Say things like "I know you're sad and I'm sorry about that, but we've talked about this, you have to go." Still give him hugs and kisses and let him know it will all be ok.
- See it through. If you say you'll take him in his PJ's if he doesn't get dressed, you have to do it.
- Give him one last chance to get dressed in the car.
- Give a really big positive reinforcement if he does get dressed before he goes in.
- Don't beat yourself up about it. Teaching your child that there are some things that are non-negotiable is important and it's sometimes a relief for kids to know this decision is out of their hands.

This was a turning point for Ed. We talked afterwards about the fact that he has to go and it's up to him whether it's a happy experience and he focuses on the fun and his friends or a sad experience where he focuses on wanting to stay home. We have only had two Kinder days since, but both were happy days with no tears before hand or at drop off.

We also made this simple little chart so he could count down the days until holidays.

Kinder days are in big blue font and non-Kinder days are in red. I will definitely be doing this again next term. I think it makes him feel a bit more in control of the situation because he can see in print when he goes and when he's home. (It's great for learning the days of the week and pre-reading skills too!)

I'm sure we're not done with crying at Kinder, but I'm glad we have made some headway. It will be very interesting to see how he goes back after 2 and a half weeks off ..................