Early Childhood Experience and Growth of the Brain

I stumbled upon this 4-minute video on YouTube. It comes from Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
It is no secret that good nutrition is a necessary condition for the healthy mental development of a child. But this video explains the other half of the truth: a child’s brain needs the right input to develop, the right stimulation of each sense and all senses together. This means every child needs a life rich in terms of carefully chosen experiences and activities. To provide for this need does not cost a ton of money. But it is quite possible that the close relationship between social standing of a family and success of the children of a family is not due to lack of money, but due to lack of an environment with positive stimulation.
My personal suspicion is that the huge difference in education and life success between children coming from different social environments has not so much to do with lack of money for expensive food and clothing, but is to a very large degree driven by the exposure or lack of exposure to positive social experiences and stimulation of the senses.
There can be no excuse not to spend 4 minutes of your time for this video, if you are living with small children or plan to have a child on your own.

Annabel Karmel: How to Make Fish Pies for Small Children

Very important for child development is good nutrition. This means healthy and tasty food. The food must be healthy and take care of the child`s nutrition needs. And the food must be tasty so that the child can develop a sound eating habit, enjoying food and meals.
Annabel Karmel is a leading expert for children’s food. Here is a video showing how she prepares one of her favorite children meals.

We have taken this recipe from Annabel Karmen’s YouTube Channel

Potato Topping

800g (1 3/4 lb) potatoes
30 g (1 oz) butter
7 tbsp milk
4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the sauce

45 g (1 1/2 oz) butter
1 large shallot diced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
45 g (1 1/2 oz) flour
450 ml (15 fl.oz) fish stock
6 tbsp double cream
1 1/2 chopped fresh dill (or chives)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
Salmon and Cod filling
250 g (9 oz) salmon, skin removed and cut into 2cm chunks
250 g (9 oz) cod, skin removed and cut into 2 cm chunks
150 g (5 1/2 oz) small cooked prawns
70 g (2 1/2 oz) frozen peas


Boil the potatoes in salted water.
Preheat the oven to 200oC
Drain the potatoes when they are tender.
Add the butter and milk along with the parmesan.
Mash to a smooth and even consistency.
Season to taste.
To make the sauce melt the butter and sautee the shallot for 5-6 minutes until soft
Add the white wine vinegar and boil for two to three minutes until the liquid has evaporated
Stir in the flour to make a roux. The flour will bind with the remaining liquid to form a paste.
Then gradually add the fish stock and then cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously until the sauce becomes smooth.
Bring to the boil then cook, stirring, until thickened.
Chop some fresh dill, or fresh parsley also works really well with this recipe.
Remove the sauce from the heat and then stir in the cream and the chopped dill or parsley
Season well as the fish is unseasoned. The sauce will be smooth with a glossy finish.
Divide all the fish and peas among 4- 6 mini ramekins depending on their size and pour over the sauce
Cover the mixture with the mashed potato and smooth with a knife.
Now brush the top of the potato with a little beaten egg and bake in your oven for 25 minutes.

Now you have a pie for all the family to enjoy.

At Amazon is a treasure trove available of recipes for babies and toddlers in cooking books from Annabel Karmel.

How to Create Learning Materials for Your Kids


here is a small video I discovered today. It shows a great way to produce learning material for you kid by yourself for little money.

The video is taken from the YouTube channel montessoritraining, which is designed as a training resource for Montessori teachers in North America. Check the videos out. It is a great resource which you can use to help your kids at home, too.

The link to the website offering the graphics used in this video is



Should Paul Attend a Toddlers Group?

My son attends since a few weeks a toddlers group, part time. And he is happy, there. I want to share in this post some of the thoughts and considerations which let us to that decision.

Jayson examines grapes
Paul Examines grapes

First of all, I want to make clear that we would never give him into a child care center, if we were not 100 % satisfied with the quality of the care, especially with the quality of the teachers.
But given that, there remain still some pros and cons.

Let me first go to the pro side:

  1. A child needs outside contacts. He needs to interact with other children and also with other grown up people. Now we do not live on the moon, there are children around, and in summer we spent a lot of time on the playground next to our house. But in winter, this is more difficult. And a structured approach does also help.
  2. The next point to consider is about learning speech and languages. We are a bilingual family, talking at home mostly English. But since we live in Germany, it is essential that our child gets early and consistent exposure to German language. We already observed that he takes German language important, because he sees that everybody speaks that language outside the house.

Now the contra, which are also there:

  1. At home, in a one to one situation, we can guide our child and show him in a one to one situation, how to do things which a child care center can never allow to a toddler. But the fact I he likes to help in the household, he wants to cook with us coffee, potatoes, and rise. Obviously, he cannot do this alone. But with one to one attention he learns that there are also dangerous things in the world, which need to be handled by care (like a glass full of water or juice) and how to handle delicate things.
  2. At home, we can also allow him to play with toys, which are important for his motoric, like a wooden hammer. In the toddles group it would never be possible to provide that, because the danger is too big, that one child would take such a toy for a moment without supervision, and possibly hurt another child.

We decided to bring him half days into the care center, and he is very happy with it. But in the afternoon at home, we still take care of him at home, provide one to one support and encourage him to explore what is there. This can involve slicing eggs, operating the hoover, switching TV and computer, clean eye glasses etc. I sincerely believe that we consistently underestimate children, and that we limit them with our beliefs. Even worse would be, if we create believes in them limiting them and create a habit of thinking “I cannot, I am too small to do this, I am too weak to do that, I am too stupid to try such things.” To see from time to time a broken glass is a small price for fostering a can do attitude in a child.

What do you think about it?