Christine A Howard

C is for Cooking (Make it Educational)

Many special needs parents believe that they do not have the skills necessary to teach their child at home. However, this simply isn’t true. If you look closely at all of the skills your child needs to be a successful adult, you might be surprised just how many you can teach. Take cooking for instance. I bet you know how to make a simple meal. The trick with teaching cooking to a child with extra needs is to make it adaptive. Here are some ways to adapt any simple recipe to make it easier to complete.

Choose The Right Recipe

When choosing a recipe, try to find one that has no more than about 5 ingredients with not a lot of steps. Our kids do not need to learn gourmet cooking. They just need to be able to make a simple healthy meal. Most of the time, this can be done with 5 or less ingredients. One of my daughter’s favorite recipes calls for a can of tuna, a box of shells and cheese macaroni, and frozen broccoli.


By keeping the recipe super simple, your child will feel much more confident and eventually learn to make the recipe without any instructions at all. Think weeknight, I’ve had a long day, and I don’t want to be in the kitchen for hours, kind of recipes.

Learn the Recipe

Before you even begin working through a recipe together, talk about it. Help your child learn any new tools or ingredients that will be part of the recipe. Don’t assume that your child knows all of the tools in the kitchen. It is amazing just how many kitchen tools even some adults don’t know how to use.

family cooking

Provide your child with a picture list of all the tools and ingredients that will be needed to make the recipe. You may even want to make it a scavenger hunt to make it more fun. Then demonstrate how each tool is used, and talk about the ingredients and why they are important to the recipe. Make sure include proper kitchen safety in your demonstration.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

If you happen to have a struggling reader like I do, then pictures are essential. My daughter may not be able to read the words “mix all the ingredients” just yet, but she sure knows what a picture of someone holding a mixing bowl and spoon means. The more pictures you can add to the recipe, the easier it will be for your child to follow along and feel indendent.

Lots Of Simple Steps

Recipes seem to be written for experienced cooks and not the budding chef. Many of us know all of the subtle steps that are implied in recipes, but if you have never cooked before, you may not. Make sure to break the recipe up into very small steps. For example, if the recipes calls for one can of pineapples (drained), break up the steps as shown below:

  • Open the can with a can opener.
  • Place the lid back over the top of the can.
  • Holding the lid on the can, pour the liquid into the sink.
  • Do not allow the pineapple to come out of the can.
  • Remove the lid from the can.
  • Pour the pineapple into a bowl.
cooking steps

Adding a picture for each of the steps above will also make the recipe much more clear. For kids with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, etc, it is very easy to forget mulitiple steps. Having each step broken down even further keeps the working memory from getting overloaded and the child from missing a step.

Practice Practice Practice

No matter what you are learning, doing something for the very first time is nerve wracking. This is true when cooking for the first time as well. My daughter needs lots and lots of practice before she feels comfortable doing anything indendently. With each recipe, we cut up the steps into sorting cards. This way, she can practice putting the steps in order. When the day comes to finally make the recipe, she is confident and ready to cook up a storm.


Adaptive cooking is something that all parents are qualified to teach their child at home. Using these simple tips, you can adapt any of your favorite recipes and have fun learning with your child in the kitchen.

C is for cooking

Blogging Through The Alphabet – Letter C

Now is your chance to join the fun. Simply write a post that fits with this week’s letter, and link it up!

The Rules:

  • Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
  • When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
  • Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
  • Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
  • If you have time,check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
  • The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

Make sure to check out my fellow hosts too!

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