Our Sydney Holiday

After a few weeks of busy-ness and then our trip to Sydney, I’m finally back and catching up. There have been countless natural learning experiences and opportunities to explore at home and on holiday, but I will start by sharing some highlights of our Sydney holiday!

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Even the airport itself was super exciting for our two. They loved watching planes land and take off and spotting the different types of airlines.

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Not long after we landed we went on a scenic walk around the botanic gardens to the Sydney Opera House. Cameron was blown away by this massive ship!

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Our little family at a lookout on the way to the Sydney Opera House!

Museum Collage

We crammed so much into the week that we had. On our first full day in Sydney we went to the incredible Australian Museum. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen some of what we got up to.

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We got to see Sydney and the Sydney Opera house from many angles when on the water.

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We took a ferry to Taronga Zoo and got to witness some awesome things like elephants having a swim to cool down, a newborn gorilla, and lion feeding time (Cameron’s favourite!)

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The next day we went to Sea Life – I’ll share more of that experience another day!

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We then headed to the Blue Mountains for a short stay. On the way there we went to a beautiful waterhole for a dip and play.

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The resort we stayed at had lovely gardens and we followed a duck family to a hidden pond.

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We then went on a mind-blowing tour of one of the incredible Jenolan Caves.

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Before we headed back to Sydney we went on a bushwalk around some cascades and waterfalls. It was a magical experience and the kids were in their element!

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Remember to check out what Sara from Happiness is here, Kate from An Everyday Story and Jess from Memoirs of a Childhood have been up to too!

I hope you had a brilliant week! I have lots planned and to catch up on! Remember to follow us on Facebook for the latest!

 

First Venture Into LEGO Sets

Brought to you by Nuffnang and LEGO

We are undoubtedly big LEGO and LEGO DUPLO fans in our home. I’m usually all for open ended exploration of LEGO bricks, but we were recently introduced to the amazing LEGO Juniors range.

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LEGO Juniors are “Easy to Build” toys aimed for 4-7 year old boys and girls. They have clear instructions which are easier for young builders to follow and complete all by themselves. Cameron was enthralled! I could see his confidence grow before my eyes.

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Seeing Cam’s undivided attention as he set up this intricate little world was genuinely brilliant. LEGO Juniors provide the opportunity to tap into this age groups high need for self-accomplishment as they are able to complete a “world” of their own with every set.

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There is so much to it and he learned a lot while creating and playing. From reading instructions and following an order, to creating a functional finished project – it was really rewarding for him and he is still playing with it hours later!

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LEGO Juniors provides the perfect bridge between LEGO DUPLO products and the older LEGO themed sets. Some 4 year old’s do not yet have the fine motor skills to build with the smaller LEGO bricks, which can result in frustration and a negative play experience. Cameron has previously been gifted a LEGO helicopter which he was SO excited to receive but even with help, he lost interest when it became too tedious and difficult to complete. LEGO Juniors introduces the small LEGO brick in a way that makes each set still quick and easy to build, and this is with the bigger ‘quick start’ elements.

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“I did it”

Cam’s first LEGO set!

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The LEGO Juniors products focus on creating popular real life settings or on favourite movie characters. For Cam, this police set has inspired hours of play as he is interested in police and armed forces at the moment.

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Giveaway!

WIN LEGO Juniors Police set  Racheous

Thanks to LEGO Australia we have this brilliant Police – The Big Escape set to giveaway! To enter, simply answer the following question in the comments below:

“Aside from the awesome Police – The Big Escape set, which LEGO Junior set would your child LOVE?”

This competition is for Australian residents only. It begins, 8.00am AEDST Tuesday 11 November 2014 and will continue until 5:00pm AEDST on Tuesday 18 November 2014. See here for full terms and conditions. This is a game of skill. Entries will be judged based on their creativity. Please leave a name and email address with your comment.

 

You’re stronger than you think

This is a sponsored post for Nuffnang and the NSW government

Today I want to discuss something that is quite different to my usual posts. Stick with me though, this could change your opinion and even help someone reach out.

Problem gambling is a huge yet largely invisible issue. Gambling is acceptable to most of society but any time problems arrive, it seems to be met by shame and stigma.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is characterised by the difficulties surrounding limiting money or time spent on gambling. When it goes too far, it negatively impacts the gambler’s life and those surrounding them. The results can be devastating.

The most significant barrier to seeking help is the social stigma that is involved.  Whether it is self-stigma, perceived-stigma or being poorly understood by others, it stops them from seeking help and making positive changes to their life. Research shows that problem gambling is not understood by society and this contributes to the stigma associated with having a gambling problem.

Many of those who do seek help have hit rock bottom. I hope that more people can recognise the signs and seek help before it gets to that stage.

The hardest thing is that the gambling addiction is not the only problem that many problem gamblers are facing. Statistics indicate that almost half of help seekers suffer from anxiety and depression. Moreover, around one third of help seekers have a problem with alcohol. Read more devastating facts here.

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Seeking help

For people with a gambling problem, seeking help relies on a number of stages, including:

  1. Recognising that they have a problem,
  2. Being willing to share their problem,
  3. Feeling comfortable about seeking help,
  4. Knowing what services are available to them, and
  5. Believing that these services can help them.

For every individual with a gambling problem, there are five to ten other people who are also affected, including immediate and extended family, friends, work colleagues and employers. I encourage problem gamblers and their affected families and friends to access help from the range of options available to them.

Why is this important to me specifically? Why am I writing about this?

Reading about the difficulties and stigma associated with gambling touches me personally. I can relate to the difficulty seeking help and the negative ideals from society when it comes to my own personal battle with mental illness.

I’m writing this because chances are there are at least a few people who could benefit from reading this and from the awareness it creates. I’m writing this in the hope that it will help someone who has or is affected by a gambling problem.

I’m writing this for those who need a sign to seek help. This is it. Now is the time to seek help and can be the turning point in your life. Don’t let ill-informed opinions stop you from reaching out and living the life you deserve.

Free, confidential help and information is available for gamblers and their families, face to face , or 24/7 through Gambler’s Helpline 1800 858 858 or online. Find out more about these services and self-help options here (www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au).

Please anonymously email any questions about problem gambling that you have. I’ll be discussing these soon.

Coping with Kids’ Strong Emotions

My previous post about parenting a headstrong child respectfully was written to share my own experience and hopefully inspire others. I’m not a parenting expert, merely a passionate mother who shares my thoughts.

Several of you were wanting tips and real life examples too so I thought I’d share some recent examples about dealing with strong emotions and power struggles:

Children of all ages experience strong emotions. As loving parents it can be uncomfortable to watch them struggle. You want to help them, you want them to be OK. But sometimes as a result of our own discomfort, we try to stop these emotions and in turn make it out as though these feelings are not OK.

I have spoken previously about how the little things matter to them and how I parent my sensitive son respectfully. So you’ll know that my son (almost 5 years old) often gets overwhelmed and sometimes this results in tears. Instinctively, I want to tell him “it’s OK” and I want him to stop. That’s natural – I don’t want him to be upset!

But I have seen how that affects him. I’ve made that mistake before and watched as the cries got harder or he hid his face and cried louder. To him, it’s not OK in that moment and that’s not what he needs.

So instead, I am there, I get on his level and if I say “it’s OK”, I tag a “to cry/feel scared/feel sad” on the end. I validate his emotions, “you’re worried/scared/angry/hurt because ____”. As a result, Cam has told me with tear-filled eyes “it’s OK to cry. I’m sad” in such a love-filled way (with eyes that said ‘you taught me that‘). I’m thankful he knows that.

Similarly, my daughter (2.5 years old) is not overly verbal and she gets angry fast when she feels like she’s not being heard. Just last week after a big play at the park we gave warning that we were going to leave but she was not having it once we said we were going. She threw a tantrum complete with heart-breaking sobs and rolling around in the dirt.

My husband was embarrassed and went straight into damage control mode with “we have to go, that’s enough” and “stop that, you had a great fun play!” This resulted in more temper and more uncomfortable emotions. I’m not an expert and my son isn’t quick to anger so I have a limited tool-belt for tantrums. I’ve said similar things in the past.We’re all at different levels in this mindful parenting journey.

Coping with Kids Strong Emotions

I got on her level and said “I’m here if you need a cuddle” and repeated variations of “you really didn’t want to leave” and “you had lots of fun, you didn’t want to go”. The sobs quickly got quieter until I heard a little “yeah” and she reached for me for a hug.

It’s OK to be angry.

It’s OK to be sad.

It’s OK to cry.

It’s OK to feel hurt.

But they don’t want to hear “it’s OK”.

Just like adults, kids want to be heard. Sometimes what they are worried or hurt about doesn’t seem like a big deal. Sometimes it is embarrassing. Sometimes you have been through this so many times that you’re at your wits end. But remember, all they want is to feel like they are valued. Remember that sometimes simply the way you word things and react can make the world of difference both in the moment and for long after.

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Naturally Learning Maths

I don’t know about you but I hated maths. In high school, I graduated above average in the higher level maths class. But oh how I hated it. I didn’t get it and when I did, I didn’t understand why I needed to know it.

I succeeded primarily by memorisation. There was certainly no joy there and not a lot of understanding either. I’ve since forgot all but the basics and all that is left is a general dislike for maths.

However, being a homeschooling Mum, I don’t want project any of that onto my kids. I want them to continue to learn maths in ways that excite them and are meaningful to them.

Most of us are familiar with ‘school maths’ and it’s the only model we know. Consequently it seems unlikely that you could get all of that simply through living life. Maths learned from life is certainly a contrast to that which is typically taught in schools.

Real life maths is learned through a slow discovery of how numbers work. Through, for example, encountering percentages several times and piecing together the information. Like many of us have taught ourselves what a new word means over time. You encounter it and decipher it in context and as you encounter it a second, third, maybe fourth time – it becomes clear what it means and is something you can confidently use in your own vocabulary.

But how? How will a child encounter percentages or algebra, you ask (I know I did!) Well, maths is everywhere and relates to almost everything else in life. If you live a full life, you will learn all the maths you need merely because you need it. It’s inescapable.

Sometimes it’s simply realising these abstract and sometimes ‘complex’ ideas are for a reason. For example, algebra is just figuring out what you don’t know from what you do know. Some people will love it and get really interested and want to learn more advanced maths and do all sorts of interesting things with it. Most will not.

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So how am I encouraging and facilitating that at this stage?

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Well, through play primarily. Watching Cam play with Spielgaben, I observe so many incidental explorations of mathematical concepts. Even at this age he’s exploring and making connections about many processes: including patterns, symmetry, fractions, probability, multiplication and division.

 

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The best way, in my opinion (particularly early on) is for children to learn maths contextually and in ways relevant to their lives. How can I divide these lollies up so that it’s fair for my friends and I? How much do I need if I halve this recipe?

Furthermore, the most powerful way we as parents can help with maths is to speak the ‘maths language’ out loud. Add up money out loud or figure out the remaining days to a holiday without using paper. Talk about numbers in contextual ways and discuss how we manipulate them in day to day life.

All of this forms the foundation for their mathematical exploration later in life. And hopefully their experiences with maths will continue to be positive.

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The new Spielgaben version 4 will be retailed at US $449.50 But Racheous readers can own it for over 15% off with a discounted price of US $380 including shipping if you ORDER before November 15, 2014!

Pre Order Special:  US $380 | AU $425 | GBP $238

Prices are approximate depending on conversion rates. All you need to do to claim your discount is send an email to [email protected] mentioning Racheous and you will be provided with a discount coupon!