Cooking and developing concentration

When a child has problems concentrating on a task and has trouble listening and following instructions, then cooking can be difficult, for them but also for you. Making food with your children adds so much to their learning and far outweighs the frustration that you feel while doing it.

My eldest grandson is one of those children.

I am very lucky to have two beautiful grandsons. One 7 years old and the other 6 years old.

The seven year old has cerebral palsy which affects the right hand side of his body. He lives with us and his dad (my son). The cerebral palsy also affects his concentration on a task. But he loves cooking so I'm hoping to help develop his listening skills and ability to follow instructions and of course his concentration by following this passion.

With have been cooking together for a long time. But now, as he is getting older, I want to start developing more life skills with him and plan what we are going to cook and for who. I have started printing out recipe sheets for him and laminating them. If you don't have a laminator I really recommend that you buy one. I have had one for years, mainly for school work, but now I am no longer teaching, I find the laminator still very handy around the home.

We also put together his own cooking drawer over the weekend. I

cleared out one of my deep drawers, it was only filled with junk anyway, and

made it his cooking cupboard. In it we put some pastry cutters, wooden spoons, a rolling pin, plastic bowls, whisk and my hand mixer. He did say I could share it if I wanted. All of these things were already in the kitchen, but now he owns them it has made him so happy. the only thing we did go out and buy was some piping bags and some nozzles and a set of measuring cups and spoons. None of the items are toys, they are all grown up tools - and he knows it and it make him so proud.

It's the first day of his half term break and I promised him that we would do some cooking each day.

So this is day one...

I asked him what he wanted to cook today.

He wanted to make pancakes for breakfast. He loves making pancakes. He still doesn't like cracking the egg, but we will work on that one.

Pancakes are easy to remember, even for your child.

One cup of flour

One cup of milk

One egg.

He mixes and then I cook them. Then we make smiley faces on the cooked pancakes with raspberries and sliced bananas. Great fun and really tasty.

After breakfast I asked him what he would like to cook for lunch. And we sat down and wrote out a menu.

We decided on spicy chicken and salad, followed by Rainbow Cookies.

He was really excited about helping with the salad because it meant using the knife. Using a knife is challenging for him because he is reluctant to use his right arm. We even have ongoing problems with using a knife and fork when eating his dinner.

We started with the chicken. He counted out two pieces of chicken for each person. Two for his grandad, two for his dad, two for me and two for himself. This gave me chance to practise his two times tables with him.

Spicey chicken

Chicken thighs (two per person)


salt and pepper

a little oil

Really easy. He rubbed some oil on each chicken thigh and placed them onto the baking tray. then he put a little salt and pepper on each one. Next he sprinkled some paprika on each chicken thigh.

I put the chicken the the oven and he set the timer for 35 mins.

Now we talked about the importance of washing hands. Another good teaching moment.

Next the salad. ----- We took some salad leaves of the lettuce and he carefully cut it and put it in the salad bowl. We carried on with the rest of the salad items. He needed help with this and close supervision, but he did gain a lot of confidence and he had to concentrate very hard on what he was doing,

Next the Rainbow Cookies

This is another fun one to make. And they look so good. He has his own recipe card for this one and enjoys reading it through.

You will need: 

  • 175g softened butter

  • 50g golden caster sugar

  • 50g icing sugar

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 300g plain flour

  • zest and juice 1 orange

  • 140g icing sugar, sifted

  • sprinkles, to decorate


Measure out all the ingredients you need into small bowls, talking about how much things weigh and how to measure out different amounts.

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

  2. Mix the butter, sugars, egg yolks and vanilla with a wooden spoon until creamy, then mix in the flour in 2 batches.

  3. Stir in the orange zest.

  4. Roll the dough into about 22 walnut-size balls and sit on baking sheets. Bake for 15 mins until golden, then leave to cool.

  5. When the biscuits are cool, mix the icing sugar with enough orange juice to make a thick, runny icing. Dip each biscuit half into the icing, then straight into the sprinkles. Dry on a wire rack.

So what did we learn toady? A lot ---- Reading , maths, concentration, small motor skills, planning and writing out a menu for others to see.

Don't forget just talking to your child about what they are doing adds a great deal to their understanding and learning. So have a good old chat.

I don't know what we're going to cook tomorrow. Something easy I hope.

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