Cooking Up Confidence
Everyone loves a tasty treat. And let’s face it, we are all snacking more during the pandemic! Kim Velasco’s Basic Life Skills students range in age from 5-21. Cooking class is a perfect at-home or in-person learning activity for all her special needs students.
“Our students are able to learn and practice important skills. Following a recipe, measuring and kitchen safety are cooking skills they might not otherwise get to use,” Kim said. “We focus on cooking foods in ways students can do themselves, rather than relying on adults around them. These are important skills that help them become more independent and will serve them throughout their lives.”
The chosen recipes align with the week’s academic theme. Rice crispy treat nests with jelly bean eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese and soup have been favorites so far. The recipes are accompanied by pictures so students can see the steps and follow along. After the students complete the recipe, they are encouraged to try the food item and discuss the experience.
With her $2,500 State Farm Teacher Assist grant, Kim’s been able to expand the program. It started at-home as a way to engage students when they were fully remote-learning. Now back in the classroom four days a week, the grant's allowed her to continue it. She’s able to provide a wider variety of ingredients and opportunities to work with different types of foods and techniques.
Students with disabilities often require repetitive practice before mastering a skill. A first attempt at flipping pancakes ended up on someone’s shoe! The more real-life opportunities to practice these skills, the more likely they will be able to cook meals and snacks for themselves.
“When students with disabilities gain independence in something like cooking, they gain confidence in themselves. It allows them to not have to rely on others to do it for them,” she said.
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