Categories
Education

Back to School

After 3 years of eclectic home education. The children will be joining the school system this September. Or so I thought. With the Covid19 pandemic it’s uncertain what going back to school this academic year will even look like.

Many families across the world are opting for home education in the midst of this pandemic. I’ve put together a list of useful links and resources that we will be using for our English education, regardless of the official decision. Their school is bilingual French/Arabic so we will continue English education at home.

book shelves book stack bookcase books
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Back to school: useful links/resources

Normally I would be making a trip back to the UK to pick up workbooks, reading books, or anything else I feel would be useful for the year ahead. But this isn’t possible during the pandemic, so I am relying heavily on ebooks and online resources for our English education.

English

B (5) is just starting the Biff, Chip & Kipper books from Oxford Reading Tree. We will be using Oxford Owl to access FREE ebooks and educational activities to support his learning.

W (7) is beginning to read for pleasure (Harry Potter, Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants etc.) so we will be focusing more on comprehension skills and story writing. Twinkl is a great resource for this.

Maths

Both boys are signed up to The Maths Factor by Carol Voderman which complements the British National Curriculum. The children watch a video and them complete a related activity. There are games and rewards available and even ‘Summer Camps’ to focus on skills learned from the previous academic year.

Maths is a universal language and they will be having maths lessons in both French & Arabic, so there is no obligation from me for them to do this on a regular basis.

Other Subjects

Nature Studies/Journals: I purchased the ‘Exploring Nature with Children’ curriculum several years ago, but have always found an excuse/reason not to follow it properly. With the lockdown and being forced to stay inside for several months, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the house at least once a week. Especially if schools will be online, we will all need a break from the screens. You can purchase the curriculum here.

Computer Skills: With W starting to dictate his own blogs, we both thought it was fitting he learned to type so that he can write them himself. English keyboards use the QWERTY layout, which is different from other language keyboards. We are using the Dance Mat Typing game from BBC Bitesize to help his typing skills. And I am teaching him how to search for information on the internet using the DK online encyclopedia.

We will also be doing various projects throughout the year, that I can share with you. If you’re interested, sign up for email updates below.

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Categories
Activity Ideas Birthdays

Celebrating Birthdays With Kids

There is a lot of advice out there about celebrating kids birthdays. But what about other people’s birthdays? How do you celebrate adult birthdays with kids?

Before having children my birthday wasn’t really a big deal to me. I’d maybe go out for a drink with some friends or take a solo trip for the weekend. However when my sweet, angel-faced toddler had a massive meltdown at the first birthday party he had ever been invited to. I realised that he didn’t know that other people have birthdays too. So I now make the effort to do something on my birthday, and I get them involved too.

Table decorations

How to have an adult birthday with kids around:

If you follow us on Instagram, you will know that it was my youngest sister’s birthday yesterday and what with the pandemic she was fortunate enough to celebrate with us. What follows is a simple, step-by-step plan to have a birthday party without any tears, tantrums or throwing up.

  1. Give advanced warning. That way you can have them ask 5 times a day for 3 months how long until the birthday.
  2. Let them choose the presents. Recycled junk and broken pencils are great. Just make sure you have a ‘real’ present to hand.
  3. Decorations. All of our decorations are reusable. We have a felt banner & colourful card bunting. The children folded up colour star cut outs for table decorations. A great fine motor skills activity & keeps them busy/quiet for a few hours!
  4. Let them bake cake. Seriously, when they get involved in the birthday cake making process they have more respect for the cake. They’re willing to wait their turn for a slice because they take pride in other people enjoying the cake before them. I’m not claiming to be any kind of baker or chef, but you can sign up to receive a simple birthday cake recipe that I have used without fail over the years.
  5. Reward them. I don’t believe in rewarding children for good behaviour. Behaviour should come from understanding and intrinsic motivation rather than external motivation (eg. reward). I also don’t like balloons, they’re harmful to the environment (however, not my birthday = not my choice). In recognition of their positive contributions to the birthday day, they were promised a balloon each to play with the following day, as well as a second slice of cake.

Simple Birthday Cake Recipe

This is a vanilla sponge cake soaked in a rosewater simple syrup, decorated with rosewater buttercream and raspberries.

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Categories
Uncategorized

What kind of parent do you want to be?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Parenting is like Raising Aliens. You’re just thrust into an unknown situation. Helping these ‘alien’ beings navigate the world. While also trying to keep everybody alive. There isn’t any secret to being the best parent in the world, you can only be the best parent for your family. So, what does that look like? What kind of parent do you want to be?

woman and children taking photo
Photo by kelvin octa on Pexels.com

I’ve always known the kind of parent I wanted to be and for the most part I’ve achieved it. Which is probably why over the last 7.5 years of parenthood, I have been inundated with questions from friends and strangers. Questions about becoming a single parent, parenting a child with additional needs, moving abroad etc.

And so, I started Raising Aliens: a parenthood podcast (click here) and the Little Londoners: Raising Aliens Facebook group. The podcast is a chance for me to put all my parenting experience and advice into one place for you and the Facebook group is a place for you to ask questions and take part in a positive, judgement-free parenthood group. There are four patron tiers to choose from:

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– early access to podcasts (a week before they’re made public)
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Everything from the previous tier PLUS:
a podcast shout out in recognition of your support
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I look forward to you joining the Raising Aliens Community!

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Uncategorized

Raising Aliens

When I think about what parenting really is, the first thing that springs to mind is ‘raising aliens’. That’s all we, as parents, are really doing. I used to think that it was like having a dog. You feed and water them, take them for walks, clean up after them and try to get them to listen to some simple instructions. But it’s really not like that at all. We are raising aliens.

But, my kid isn’t an alien?

Of course, I’m not saying that children ARE actually aliens. But it certainly helps as an idea to keep in mind when parenting. Imagine you (an alien) arrive on a strange planet. You don’t know the rules but everybody else expects you to just follow them automatically. Would you prefer somebody who gently guided you as you navigate this new world, or would you prefer somebody who dishes out punishments every time you break a rule that nobody ever told you about in the first place?

via GIPHY

Not all aliens are the same

Raising aliens won’t be the same experience for everybody. There is not a single ‘right way’ to parent. I was reminded of this last week when B received his first pair of glasses.

For months, I kept asking if he could see properly and he said ‘Yes, I can see fine.’ but I wasn’t convinced. As soon as children were allowed out of lock down we headed to the ophthalmologist who declared “he needs glasses” before his bum had even touched the seat. During that appointment, he realised that the world he thought he knew and saw was not the same world that everybody else sees. Once his glasses were ready and he went outside for the first time he said to me “I didn’t know I was this tall or that the buildings were so big!” and my heart broke a little. I nearly sent him out into the world without making sure he could see it properly. Glasses are the tool he needs to navigate the world around him.

I firmly believe it is our job as parents to equip our children’s with the tools they survive in the ‘real world’. Just like we would equip an alien with the tools necessary to navigate a strange, new world.

Which is why I am proud to announce that I am launching my very own parenthood podcast: Raising Aliens on Patreon. The first official episode comes out this Sunday!

Don’t forget to check out our latest blog:

Categories
Parenthood

10 Reasons Not To Have A Child

You’re probably wondering why I’m giving you 10 reasons not to have a child. I have two. That’s exactly why I’m qualified to tell you 10 reasons NOT to have a child!

  1. Your bank account will thank you
  2. Child-free holidays
  3. Life is a series of never-ending questions
  4. They need constant entertaining
  5. You can be the cool aunt/uncle
  6. You need to feed them, everyday
  7. They’re not just for Christmas
  8. They will fight each other, constantly
  9. You’ll keep your identity and your name
  10. The world is overpopulated

1. Your bank account will thank you

Seriously. Kids are expensive, they need things. I’m not just talking about the basics liked food and maybe a bed (cosleepers rejoice!). B’s new glasses cost €160. Sure he needs them, but does he REALLY need them at that price?! The biggest dent to my bank account? Matching outfits. I can’t resist them, I’m extremely picky about what I dress the boys in. Which can often mean paying an arm and a leg for an outfit they will wear maybe once. It’s a weakness of mine, but can you really deny how cute they look?!

2. Child-free holidays

I love traveling, I’ve taken the boys to Italy, Spain, Germany, Czechia, France, Morocco & of course all around the UK. BUT travelling with kids, paying for 3 tickets, packing car seats (we use the mifold), planning meals & nap times cannot be compared to a child-free, stress-free holiday.

A family holiday is priceless. There is something about sharing your favourite lunch spot in Barcelona with your children. Or watching their faces light up as they experience the magic of Disneyland for the first time. Encouraging their inquisitive nature as we explore the souks of Marrakech.

3. Life is a series of never-ending questions

Why?* ‘Nuff said.

*Google/YouTube is your friend. You might even learn something yourself!

4. They need constant entertaining

Especially during lockdown with playdates off the table, you actually need to entertain them yourself. Netflix can only cover so much, being invited into their imaginary worlds is a privilege. However, I personally have had enough of their pre-bedtime ‘shows’ which seem to involve a wailing banshee and bucking Pokemon. They often end by me being held ransom until I ‘pay up’ with REAL money for watching a show that I didn’t want to watch in the first place.

5. You can be the cool aunt/uncle

I love other peoples kids, I can play with them, spoil them and then hand them back.

6. You need to feed them, everyday

Yes, everyday, At least 3 times a day, if you don’t included snacks. More if your kids have appetites like mine. If you can’t work out why that’s NOT a good thing, refer to Reason No. 1.

7. They’re not just for Christmas

They are human beings who will grow up to become adults. They will either be adults who contribute positively to society and their local community, or they won’t. If you’re not prepared to put in the work (emotionally, financially etc.) that it takes to raise a child, then you probably shouldn’t have children.

8. They will fight each other, constantly

But when they make up and play together your heart will melt.

9. You’ll keep your identity and your name

There’s nothing I hate more than being referred to as B’s mum or W’s mum. I have a name, my own likes and interests. I have an identity that isn’t just ‘their mum’!

10. The world is overpopulated

So this is my super super serious reason NOT to have children. In fact it’s one of the reasons (apart from being single) I won’t be having anymore children. The world is overpopulated, children in ‘developed’ countries have a much larger carbon footprint than children from other countries. I tried to do my part with breastfeeding, cloth nappies, eco-friendly cleaning products & making my own baby food. BUT it can’t be denied more and more people are choosing to go child-free for the environment.

BONUS: One Reason You SHOULD Have A Child

Because you want one. Don’t have a child if you don’t want to or because you feel pressured. Have a child IF you are ready and take the 10 things I mentioned above. Children can be an enjoyable experience but they come with a lot of stress, financial and mental strain. If that’s not for you, then don’t do it.

Categories
Activity Ideas Parenthood

Bucket List: Summer 2020

I love writing lists. We ticked a few things off W’s ‘Starting School Bucket List’ back in 2017! After 3 years of home education, international nursery settings and flexischooling the boys will be attending a bilingual (Arabic/French) school from September! Coupled with nearly four months stuck inside as part of Morocco’s coronavirus lockdown measures. I thought a Summer 2020 bucket list would be a great way to give them back some control over their lives.

We don’t know what will happen regarding second wave, borders etc. So will only be doing the activities that can be carried out under social distancing guidelines. I firmly believe in giving my children their own voice, everything listed below is entirely their own original ideas.

W & B’s Summer Bucket List:

  • Bake a cake
  • Take a trip to the Zoo
  • Visit the Animal Shelter
  • Have a sleepover
  • Go out for Ice cream
  • Eat chocolate fruit kebabs
  • Go to the beach
  • Have fun at the pool
  • Play with friends
  • Build a secret den
  • Watch a film together
  • Go camping
  • Have a picnic
  • Play in the river
  • Take a surprise trip

Is there anything you would add? Don’t forget to check out our Summer Learning Activities blog:

Categories
Childhood W Writes

W Writes: My Hair – a poem

Written by W, edited by Mum.

My Hair Poem

My hair is curly.
My hair makes me strong.
My hair makes me happy.
My hair is long.
My hair is soft.
My hair is free.
My hair makes me, me.

by W, aged 7

Check out W’s very first blog below:

Categories
Education Parenthood

Raising Global Citizens: Global Food Security

Raising Global Citizens is no easy feat. The boys are now firmly part of the Third Culture Kids ‘Club’. They speak two languages and are learning a third. They’ve lived in a foreign country for nearly two years. Forming friendships with local and international children. They are open minded. They recognise and respect those from different cultural and religious backgrounds. But, and there’s always a but, they are privileged.

Teaching Children About Global Food Security

“We wish we had a mummy who let us eat whatever we want, whenever we want!” they both declared one evening. The next morning, they were presented with the video below.

I’m the kind of parent who can turn anything into a learning opportunity. We can’t watch any Disney film without an accompanying lesson from me discussing the real historical events and injustices portrayed. And I love Disney. So how did I discuss global food insecurity with them?

It’s an ongoing conversation. There is no ‘right time’ to start this conversation. They might not completely understand the concept yet, but they will. We always have conversations about gratitude for the food on our plates during mealtimes. I encourage them to recognise their privilege: access to clean drinking water, fresh fruit, vegetables and education (which I personally believe is a right, not a privilege).

We watch videos, discuss real-world impact and look at the people around us. We have donated to the local food bank when we lived in the UK and bought food for orphanages in Marrakech. Through discussion and action, I hope that they will gain deeper insight into the issues that affect a large percentage of the global community. I hope that they will grow into global citizens who will make a difference and effect change. I do this by discussing a myriad of global issues with them and offering them the opportunity to take an action of their choosing in response.

What other global issues should I be discussing with my child?

Raising global citizens isn’t just about experiencing language, culture and travel. It’s also teaching them about global issues. Here are a few global issues I try to talk to my children about:

  • Human Rights (including Children’s Rights)
  • Wildlife & Marine Conservation
  • Racism
  • Global Food Insecurity
  • Climate Change

Useful Links

Categories
Parenthood

Guest blog: The ‘S’ word

I’ve known M for nearly 6 years. We first met online, in a Facebook group – a contentious place for parents. I uttered the ‘s’ word, two in fact! Socialisation & segregation. We had a little spat and I (stubbornly) was quite happy to leave it there. To my pleasant surprise, M reached out to me. A few days later she was picking up a (very pregnant) me and toddler W for a play date!

It’s not everyday that an online argument turns into friendship. How many of us would reach out to the other person in an attempt to resolve a dispute? I think it speaks volumes as to the kind of person M is. Which is why I’ve asked her to write the first guest blog for Little Londoners. While I dipped my toe in and out of the Home Education poolM has been fully immersed from the beginning. A fellow single parent to L (11), you can follow their journey and the resources they use here. Happy reading!

The ‘S’ word

by M from @homeeducating_you

I’ve been asked by Paloma from Little Londoners to write a guest post. A little about me, I’m known mainly as M and Mum. I’m a solo parent to L who is 11 and has never been in the UK Schooling system. I share some of our Home Education journey along with the resources we use on Instagram.

I’ve known P for 6 years, however our first encounter wasn’t pleasant. We were in a national UK Home Ed group and we’d had what you can call “words”. From my vague memory of that time P had asked if there was certain groups for nursery aged children. I had a bee in my bonnet about age segregation. We exchanged a few cross words whilst on that open forum. I then questioned why I had even engaged, I couldn’t be doing with the drama.

Fast forward 6 years; we no longer live in the same country, let alone city but we are in regular contact. We see each other as much as our geographical distance and lifestyles allows. Our children get along well and even though they have less contact than we do, they still recognise each other. It may have been months or years, but they just click like they had seen each other the day before. 

The ‘s’ word: socialisation

Not all connections grow into friendships. And not all friendships last, I am pleased to say our initial conversations have developed into something so much more. We have a mutual understanding and respect for one another. Our lifestyles with our children are similar.

I am often asked if my child has friends. I gush with pride that she holds many friendships, all over the UK and abroad. 

Our first communication was regarding young children being with older children. whether it was viable to have separate groups. I’ve Home Educated from the very beginning, the way Home Educated children socialise is far more diverse than schooled children. There’s no age difference, they are all children with a common ground: they don’t go to school. To truly understand this, you’d have to see it for yourself. Either at a not back to school picnic or another Home Ed event.

Ask yourself this. Are your own friends all the same age as you? 

Why do we expect and except that children should be the same? 

I find that Home Educated children are alot more accepting and hold far greater social skills than their schooled peers.