Early Toddler Education (and a healthy dinner recipe)

lol LOVE THIS!

I am so happy to be finally back and blogging. I am excited to start back up with the good news. I am in the midst of starting up my own business and working as a doula. I am also happy to announce that after 3.5 years of graduate school I am wrapping up and moving on. Not only that I am on a path to become a childbirth educator and almost finished with my post-graduate education which focuses on pediatrics and pregnancy. This summer has been jam packed with babies, pregnancy, and nutrition. Even though it’s been really busy I am looking forward to take some time and focus on my blog so you will definitely be seeing more posts on here!
Let’s discuss education. When is it a good time to start educating your little one? I believe that education starts in the womb. Playing music and talking to your little one while you are pregnant is a beginning to the endless education that they will have throughout their next twenty something years from the day their born. Reading books to your little one starting at infancy is a great way to get them used to story-time and developing their communication as well as expanding their vocabulary later on. I started at 4 months and my son loves books. Even though, he doesn’t read yet he loves to look at books.
Communication is key with your little one and it is hard for them to express themselves and what they want when they are unable to verbalize it. Baby sign language is a great way to introduce your baby to communication. It is a way to understand what they want before they are talking. Someone once asked me if that would delay their speech but it doesn’t. I feel like it was able to help my little one start talking faster because he could understand and communicate to me what he wanted early on. It doesn’t eliminate all crying but lessens it if a baby can show you the “milk sign” and tell you s/he is hungry. My little one was able to tell me when he was hungry or thirsty and when he saw our doggie. He then moved on to make up his own signs and words that I could understand and it made communication for us easier. Baby sign language is a whole big subject on its own and I will dedicate a blog to it one day. I definitely encourage moms to go out and read about it to decide if that’s what you want to do. I think it’s very beneficial for the baby and the mom. A lot of repetition will be required but it’s worth it to understand what your little one wants instead of trying to figure it out when their crying.
Even though we have decided to keep my son at home for another year before he starts preschool I want to make sure I prepare him for it by incorporating learning time into the everyday schedule. It is important that little ones have a structural learning environment early on. We started learning time when my son turned a year old. I had a little table that he would sit in and couldn’t get out. I started doing it in 10-15 minute increments, reading books and showing him flashcards. Almost a year later he can sit still and listen for 45 minutes to an hour. Reading expands vocabulary and introduces self-discipline by having to sit and listen. Start small and then increase the time. Make it fun and not a struggle for your little one. I included musical books and we did sing-a-long songs.
A big question that I am always looking for an answer to is how to keep my toddler busy? Toddlers are like the energizer bunny and sometimes when you are stuck indoors because of the horrible heat in the summer or the snowy/cold winters it’s always a challenge to find something that will grab and keep your toddler’s attention for more than a minute.
So how to keep a toddler busy?
6 TODDLER ACTIVITIES TO TRY AT HOME (each activity requires adult supervision)

1. Toddler wooden puzzles!
• Melissa and Doug have been my favorite ones. I also found ones that make animal noises each time you pick up a different animal. This helps him not only learn the different animal sounds but also match each animal into the right place.
2. Lift the flap books
3. Playing with water (if your little one loves water, its entertainment for hours!) You can either fill up a small bucket of water or get a small water table and let them play.
4. Food painting- I used the small yogurt pouches that they sell at target and we had fun drawing.
5. Stickers! Stickers have my son entertained for hours as well. He puts them on paper, coloring books, and his high chair
6.  Coloring crayons made for little toddlers. They are egg shaped and they should say 12 months and up on them. I also tried the markers but they were too messy and too complicated for him to use. Just make sure your little ones aren’t running around with them or you might have a wall colored in red, blue, and yellow:)

I love to have educational fun with my little one and making sure each activity counts. Most of these activities encourage hand coordination and allow him to explore new things. I also found an idea online to make my own sensory bins for him. I can’t wait to share what I make later on. Toddlers learn from feeling, touching, and experimenting. They are little scientists and it is our job to make sure their exploring is safe and helps them develop.

Have fun! Happy Friday!!!

food painting

Meals are important for our family to share and even though with our busy schedule we try to eat together as much as possible. I was thankful that yesterday’s dinner we were able to share together. This recipe does take time to make it but it’s fun and healthy for the whole family to enjoy. Here’s the recipe!

galopse

RECIPE FOR DINNER: CABBAGE ROLLS OR GALOPSE (in Russian)

YOU WILL NEED
• Ground chicken, beef, or turkey (I used turkey)
• 1 cabbage
• worcestershire sauce
• spices (oregano, parsley, turmeric)

1. Wash and boil cabbage for 10 minutes. You want it to be soft but not squishy. Do not over boil it. I used only half a head of cabbage to make about 10. Use a whole one if you want to make more.
2. Marinate the meat while the cabbage is boiling. I washed it and then added oregano, parsley, turmeric, and Worcestershire sauce. Then I covered it and left it to marinate for 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.
3. Take either white or brown rice and soak it for 20 minutes in water. I rinsed it first before I let it soak.
4. Once the cabbage is done take off the leaves in big pieces individually and use a cooking hammer to beat the pieces softly. (The pieces are fragile so don’t hit to hard or they will tear apart)
5. After the meat is marinated I shredded one carrot into it and added the rice. A quarter of rice to a bowl of ground meat.
6. Then take a tablespoon of the meat mixture and add it into each cabbage leaf.
7. Roll the leaves and add to a pot of water. Make sure the water is above the cabbage rolls at least two fingers.
8. Boil for 40 minutes until meat is fully cooked
9. Then make the tomato sauce and add it into the pot. I poured half of the water out before I added the sauce to make it more flavorful.
10. Then cook about 10-15 minutes more with the sauce. See below how to make your own homemade tomato sauce.

Serve over mashed potatoes and add zucchini and a fresh cucumber on the side.

toddler plate

*I sometimes used canned tomato paste or sauce but I didn’t have any but what I did have were fresh tomatoes so I made my own!

HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE ( MY GRANDMA’S RECIPE)
Cut up fresh tomatoes into small chunky pieces. I used about three tomatoes.
Then add half a cup of water and the tomatoes to a pan and sauté
Add 3 tablespoons of ketchup
A pinch of salt
Teaspoon of sugar
Mix slowly and cook for 15 minutes
Add this to the cabbage leaves
I also like to add bay leaf afterwards for a little bit more favor.

ENJOY!

 

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