Categories
Activity Ideas

5 Summer Learning Activities for Children

I don’t know about you, but my brain has turned to mush over lockdown. With Covid19 not looking to go anywhere and any international travel plans having to be postponed, I’m looking at a staycation and simple activities to keep the children busy. These 5 summer learning activities do just that and as each focuses on a different area of learning, you don’t need to fill any mum guilt for neglecting to attend the last few weeks of Zoom school before the holidays!

1. Start a Nature Journal

A few years ago, I bought the Exploring Nature with Children Curriculum and I never used it! I figured we spent enough time out and about in nature throughout the year, that it was sufficient. However after 3 months of lockdown life – I’m ready to inject some semi-structured nature experiences into our lives with nature journals. If you’re not sure where or how to start, howwemontessori have some great tips!

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

2. Summer Reading Challenge

If you’re in the UK, you can sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge. If not you’ll have to look locally to see what’s on, or make up your own! I try to pick one main book for the week that we focus on and build activities around it, that will address areas the boys need help with or they have shown an interest in.

For example, W is really starting to enjoy reading for pleasure and is reading a chapter of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe each night before bed. Activities I can do around that would be designing a new book cover, writing a book review, drawing a map of Narnia etc. what you do is completely up to you! If you want to use this opportunity to diversify your child’s bookshelf, you can check out my 10 book recommendations over at The Motherload.

3. Maths Scavenger Hunt

We use maths on a daily basis, from counting how many cups of coffee we need to wake up, to counting down the hours until bedtime. Enter your email below to receive a FREE everyday maths scavenger hunt printable!

4. Homemade Ice-Cream

This is a tasty treat for the whole family, and it involves some pretty cool scientific concepts! We try to do this every summer, you can add toppings or try to make other flavours if you want. You can find the recipe and the scientific concept behind it here.

Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

5. Foreign Language Film Night

If you have Netflix, this one is easy. Pick a film that you’ve watched before, then switch the audio to any available foreign language. Stick English subtitles on and they’re reading! This is one of the ways my children keep up with their French and Arabic over the holidays.

Don’t forget to take photos of your child doing one or more of the 5 summer learning activities listed above. Share them with us on Instagram either by tagging @littlelondoners or using #littlelondonerscommunity.

You can also check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!

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Categories
Childhood

W Writes: Why Kids Should Speak More Than One Language

Dictated by W. Typed & edited by Mum.

I want to learn 5 languages, I can already speak English, French and I’ve just started learning Arabic. I’m asking for Spanish lessons for my 8th birthday. When we lived in London, I used to go to Chinese School every Saturday. I want to learn Mandarin again when I’m older. 

Why do I want to learn so many languages?

Because, I have a dream to travel around the world and be able to speak to everybody that I meet. If I can speak to them, I can help them and maybe they can help me. I can learn about their country, their culture and their lives. 

These are all my reasons for learning so many languages, but why do I think other kids should learn as well?

It’s important to be able to speak to lots of different people at different times of our lives. If I couldn’t speak French, I wouldn’t have many friends to play with here in Morocco. Lots of my friends in Morocco can already speak 3 languages – French, Arabic and English! 

Maybe you think it will be difficult to learn a new language. But if you keep practising, you will get better. When I first moved to Morocco I didn’t know any French or any Arabic. I didn’t understand anything anybody was saying. It made me feel sad, because I couldn’t make any friends. One day, I realised I could understand what everybody was saying in French. I could also speak it! I finally had friends and that made me very happy. 

Because of the coronavirus I couldn’t go to co-op to practice speaking French with my friends. So now I watch TV in French and Arabic and I play games in French with my brother. Sometimes I have phone calls in French and I play games on the computer or watch music videos on YouTube. These have all helped me to keep practising my languages. 

I think it is important to learn about other people. The best way to do that is if I can speak to them in their language. What language do you want to learn?

a young boy sits at a desk and waves hello to his online teacher
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

A word from mum…

Don’t forget to check out our new eBook Little Londoners Leave Lockdown here.

two brothers stand in front of a door, holding hands, wearing white and black polka dot cloth face masks
Categories
Parenthood

Respectability Politics aka The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Respectability politics – “the set of beliefs holding that conformity to socially acceptable or mainstream standards of appearance and behavior will protect a member of a marginalized or minority group from prejudices and systemic injustices.” – dictionary.com

‘Respectability politics’ the ultimate form of gaslighting or the lies we tell ourselves. If only we behaved ‘better’, looked ‘better’, spoke ‘better’ then we wouldn’t be subjected to racism and injustices. It can rule the lives for people of African descent and negatively influence our parenting experience.

Parenting Problems

Image credit: @momfully.you and @_happyasamother

When I first saw the image above, it resonated so deeply. While I may not be mothering black children, I am a person of African descent. I am never made more aware of the colour of my skin than when I am parenting my children. From the way I dress them, to their behaviour and the world around them.

In 2017, W started attending a state primary school. The majority of the pupils came from South East London’s Afro-Caribbean community. The staff did not. There was a startling lack of diversity, and an unwillingness to acknowledge Black History Month. When I removed him to be home educated at the start of the second term, I gifted books with diverse characters to the school library.

When W was on the ASD diagnosis pathway, most of the doctors I met referred to the statistics of being a boy from a single-parent, black ethnic minority family. I am hypersensitive to the fact that any slip up would not be looked upon as favourably as their peers from white British families. I often hear myself telling the boys that “I don’t want anybody talking to me about your behaviour.”. And nobody does. Oftentimes friends will compliment on how well-behaved and polite the boys are. Gushing with enthusiasm as to what a pleasure they are to be around and they press me for details. What’s my secret?

Neurosis and paranoia.

And these extend beyond parenting, these concerns influenced my naming choices before they were even born.

What’s in a name?

I love the boys names and I wouldn’t change them for the world. They completely fit their personalities and I have no regrets. However, I was conscious of the negative impact a typically BAME name could have on their future. I had to take the potential consequences into account when naming them, before I even knew what they looked like. W has a deliberately unisex name for this reason, and B’s could easily be the name of a child from a white middle-class ‘crunchy’ family.

I’m reminded of the episode in Black-ish when Dre argues to name the baby DeVante and he says to Bo “The only reason we’re not naming our son DeVante is so people won’t know right away that he’s black. I hate the fact that when something is black, the world sees it as bad.”.

I don’t know if I will ever have more children. But as the world is starting to wake up, I am determined to reclaim my heritage and my history for myself and my children. Given the opportunity, would I opt for a ‘black name’? I honestly don’t know. While I have shunned every opportunity to conform to society’s standard of ‘acceptable’ – namely in the education of my children and the parenting methods employed (hello attachment, autonomous supportive, gentle parenting!) – I seem to be unable to shake the shackles of respectability politics.

Categories
Parenthood

3 ways to promote positive self-image in boys of African descent

I made a mistake. I thought that I was doing everything I could to educate my children about our black heritage and black lives. But I forgot the important of promoting a positive self-image for them as boys of African descent.

I have written blogs about my own experiences as a child, for Black History Month and International Women’s Day. All of these have been centred around my experience as a dual heritage woman with African ancestry. I bought the books celebrating Black Women in history. I bought the books with little black and brown girls as the main characters. Because, I wanted to promote a positive image of girls and women of African descent.

Somehow, along the way I forgot about the boys. While my boys are white-passing when it comes to first impressions, they refer to themselves as ‘light brown’. Lining up at the pool with white British children, there was a clear difference in skin colour, and as a result treatment by certain swim instructors. Their green eyes, considered a novelty, formed a superficial basis for a majority of their positive interactions with white adults. And it wasn’t until our trip to Naples, Italy when W declared joyfully “Mum, they have hair like me!” that I realised he was self-conscious about his appearance.

I soon found myself on Amazon, looking up “Black Boy Books for Children“, looking for boys about happy curly-haired boys. However, I am aware there is more that I could and should be doing to promote a positive self-image in my children, as boys who will eventually become men of African descent. So, without further ado, here are 5 ways to promote a positive self-image in boys of African descent.

3 Simple Ideas To Help Promote Positive Self-Image in Boys of African Descent

1. Inspiration

Look at the Black men in your life. Highlight their achievements, use them as role models for your child. Inspire them to be as kind, caring, passionate and innovative as the Black men in their families and communities.

Promote prominent Black men in history and their achievements, look at Black men around the world and explore their successes. Show them that they can grow up to men who are just as capable.

2. Representation

What images do they see representing children and families of African descent? Make a conscious effort to promote black positive books, cartoons and films in your home.

Books: Black Boy Books for Children
Cartoons and Films: 11 Black Animated Movies and Shows – Bustle.com

3. Conversation

Talk to your child, build up their self worth by:
– encouraging growth mindset
– celebrating what makes them unique
– praising your child and working with your child
– promoting confidence in their identity

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com
Categories
Parenthood

Life after lockdown

As lockdown restrictions ease around the world, I’ve been reflecting on the things I have learned during lockdown. However, I can’t help but wonder what life after lockdown will look like.

Earlier this week New Zealand announced success in their strategy to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Last week schools in England ‘reopened’ to nursery, reception Y1 and Y6 pupils, despite government advisors saying and test and trace system needs to be in place before allowing pupils to return.

While Morocco has extended its state of emergency to July 10, with limited ease of restrictions. I look to other countries in search of what life could look like after the lockdown is lifted. I’m almost certain, however, that it won’t be returning to ‘normal’.

*schools have been open to children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. As well as providing online lesson and educational support for home learning throughout the lockdown.

Life after lockdown: What about the kids?

As parent of course, my focus is on what’s next for the children. As a parent I am perhaps mindful of outcomes for children during this global pandemic. After 3 months of complete isolation, and with limited contact to the outside world. I am extremely concerned about the mental health impact on my children.

I myself collapsed in exhaustion after a brief (necessary) meeting. I was out of practice. Smiling, laughing, actively listening – and it drained me, a neurotypical adult. So who really knows what the isolation and sudden reintroduction to society will do to our children? We won’t know immediately, but we can know what it could look like for our children. We can look to countries in Europe and Asia, that eased restrictions already.

Back to School?

Heartbreaking images of a French primary school playground, shocked parents all over the world. In China (where the virus was first identified), clear partitions separate students from their peers during lunchtime. Face masks are mandatory and students sit feet apart. This is not the educational future any parent imagines for their child. Separated from their peers, isolated but not alone.

What about the home educators? Or the parents who have decided to give home education a go after their experience during lockdown. Where will we go and what will our children do while large social gatherings are banned? We are instead forced to consider our options and weigh up the pros and cons, under government guidelines.

Socialising after lockdown

Before the lockdown, the children were attending a small homeschool co-op, just outside the city. It consisted of around 5-6 other families, depending on the day. A very small social circle which is now a health risk (numbers wise). I have been considering the best way to reopen our social circle once lockdown restrictions allow us to do so.

Do we create our own social bubble and trust that eveybody will stick to it? In the UK, gatherings of no more than 6 people are advised. Meeting up with families with 2 or more children would quickly bring us over the limit. We also have to consider where we are meeting and how we are travelling (public transport carries risks). As well as how long should we meet for before introducing others into our social bubble? All of these will depend on your government’s guidance and I have created a handy little checklist (below).

For me, I will of course wait for lockdown restrictions to be eased. I will take my time reopening our circle, encouraging my children to reconnect with their friends via Zoom or WhatsApp. Initial meetings – I imagine – will be relatively short, fraught with cires of ‘don’t touch!’, as well as copious amounts of hand sanitiser. I am actually at this moment (through a friend) getting reusable fabric masks made for the children. While I’m not sure if face masks for children will be a legal requirement. I am always nervous about anything that affects the lungs. Both boys have suffered in that department, and as a result don’t deal with viruses too well. They are improving with age, but it’s not worth the risk to me.

Regardless, while I cannot say for certain what life after lockdown will look like for everybody. I have no doubt that you will do the best for your family by:

Categories
Education

Red card, Green card

Now that I’m a new member of the school mum’s club, I am privy to various methods used to convince our children to behave. I’m sure that managing 30 4-5 year old is not an easy feat so I wasn’t entirely surprised when W (4) ran to me after his second morning of school shouting “We did rules today, Mummy!”.

It’s not so long ago that I don’t remember the various school rules and sanctions imposed for breaking them from secondary school, but I don’t really remember anything from primary school. I think at that age, the mere thought of being reprimanded for even the smallest toe out of line, was enough to keep me in check.

I suppose it’s a sign of the times that various incentives and behaviour systems are being applied in an effort to not only encourage good behaviour but also as a classroom management tool. W’s school is employing a red card, green card system. You start off with a green card and extremely good behaviour is rewarded a ‘superstar’ card. Anything that doesn’t meet expected behaviour standards receives a warning, after that it’s a red card and a phone call home. There was also something about marbles and when they manage to collect a certain number of marbles they can have movie and a popcorn as a class.

W has, as with everything, taken this all in his stride and is convinced that not only will he remain on a green card but also achieve a superstar card and the movie/popcorn reward seems well within his reach. However, I do wonder about the children who are a little more sensitive to the fact that their names are on display in the classroom for all to see where they sit on the behaviour chart. I know there have been various other mummy bloggers that have spoken out about traffic light systems for monitoring behaviour in the classroom, especially when during Reception years undiagnosed conditions can reveal themselves in the form of ‘bad behaviour’.

W thrives on rules and knowing how things work but B (2) this system would no doubt fill him with anxiety. I am very interested to see how W and his peers will fare under this behaviour management system and perhaps how it will change as he moves through the education system, if it is something that I can also apply at home or if it will conflict with practices I already have in place. Will it be a realistic preparation for life after school, working on the assumption that the red cards of today will dictate the path a child will take? I don’t know, while I understand the need for behaviour and classroom management, I wonder if there are more fluid approaches and methods available?