When I opened my preschool, I wanted a spacious backyard not only to build a playground but also to have enough space for animals. This is because, for the large part of my own childhood, I was surrounded by rabbits, chickens, gooses, goats (they were my favorites!).
The first step was to convince my metropolitan husband to have chickens. Hard to do, but not impossible :)
With that out of the way, the problem now is to find the perfect coop. I first thought about building one. Then I tried to get a used one but they sell as hot cakes, and the ads are nearly impossible to catch with a full-time preschool. I then looked for one in different online stores but all were below my standards.
Why chickens? First, it's fun to collect eggs each day. It can be part of a child's routine. Kids learn where food comes from (we also have a vegetable garden). Then, a relationship with a pet can help children develop a caring attitude and skills such as nurturing, responsibility, empathy and improved communication.
I am open to any suggestions/help. As soon, I will have a coop and hens, you will be able to visit them!
When I say that I am French, work with children and from a family of cooks, I usually got this question " what do you think about the books on French kids being happy eaters". So if you wonder what they are referring to, then search for Karen Le Billon and Pamela Druckerman. Both moved from North America to France and they wrote books about French education.
I haven't read one of these books (maybe I will). I am always amused by this fascination (It can sometimes be somewhat of fantasy) of moms from all around the world for French kids and their taste education. I recently read an article about the relation between taste education and "pleasure", enjoyment vs guilty. For me, taste education is a matter of rules.
When my husband and I moved together, I understood that we needed to establish common rules :
You may ask yourself why so many rules? or poor guy living with a French foodie dictator! Sometimes you need some rules to get some pleasure!
What are your food habits? Did they change when you became parents?
Reflections on the Wall Street Journal's article "Raising a trilingual child"
soMultilingual education had always been a preoccupation for many parents. In a lot of countries, the language spoken at home is different from the official language in the country they live.
I grew up in a "passive" bilingual family. What do I call "passive" bilingual family? My parents would spoke Spanish and we spoke French at home and on the daily life. At a certain point, when I decided to learn Spanish at school, the teacher sometimes asked "how do you know that? I did not teach you that... Well, I passively listen to my parents and caught some Spanish.
Years later, after learning Spanish. I learnt Russian and I presume that my "passive" bilingualism helped a lot. Now, I speak fluently Russian and sometimes, I surprise myself when I think in Russian instead of French (my native language).
When my husband went for the first time in France, he understood that we need to establish clear rules for our kids. Which languages would speak to our children? Well obviously, French and English. After two years in America, I decided that I will speak with them in French and my husband in Russian. They will pick up easily English since they will live here. You will say what about Spanish? I hope they will learn Spanish as well, but I am still figuring out, what will be the best way to do that.
The right time to commit to introducing a second or third language to a child is at birth. Parents need to create an environment where children are comfortable speaking, says Annick De Houwer, professor of language acquisition and multilingualism at the Universitat Erfurt in Erfurt, Germany.
Concerning our family, we will see in few years! But what about your family? For those who have already children what is your experience? and for those who are planning on having kids, have you ever thought which languages will you speak with your little ones?
Yesterday, my husband sent me this article in the NYtimes knowing that I am a big fan of play-based education and free play.
Think about your own 10 best memories of childhood, and chances are most of them involve free play outdoors
When I say why I love play-based education, usually I refer to my own childhood playing, singing, drawing in my preschool. At home, I remember playing with my siblings and that we had a lot of animals: these silly gooses and those cute baby goats. I developed from that a passion for animals. But most importantly, I remember playing without any supervision. With my brother, we built a treehouse - so primitive that it just had a floor and a ladder.
But when I listen to my father and aunt about their childhood, I become very jealous. My grandparents had to run their hotel-restaurant, so the kids were free to play. They had a big territory at their disposition. My grandmother said to me that she does not even know what they were doing all day long.
My siblings were not my only playmates. Neighbors were a huge part of my outdoor play. My father helped me go to the neighbor backyard by raising me over the fence. We frequently alternated backyards for play among neighbors, such that some of us later became very good friends. Sure, some have moved out of the area just as I have, but I heard that most of us still remember those fun "playdates".
I was pleased to read about Mike Lanza and his focus on boys. As a father of three boys he has all the reasons for being focused on boy's education. My brother grew up with 2 younger sisters and he always had too much energy. My mother told me that he would do things you would never expect. Like tying his batman cape on the mezzanine railing and try to "fly." Or make a swing from a tire and attempting to then do acrobatics. He would have liked to climb on the roof as Mike Lanza's boys do.
I might glorify my childhood, but I am forever thankful to my family for giving the opportunity to explore the world - well at least our backyard. I still like the idea of growing and enjoying outdoor activities. I even miss it now that I spend more time home than outside.
When I decided to found my home-based preschool, I had a precise idea of how it should look like. My main concern was the backyard. I wanted to have a spacious one to give enough space for the kids to play, to have chickens and a vegetable garden. So I am lucky twice because, I found the perfect backyard and a huge cover deck: No more excuses to be inside kids!
In brief, one of my challenges today is to give kids enough freedom, yet stay within the daily licensing requirements... One licensor told me: "we do everything to protect those little ones and we forget that they need to fall."
It is the hardest part: trusting those little adventurers to help them living a happy childhood.
I always wanted to organize something about food with kids. And recently, I did! A cooking class with children and their parents. The average age was 3,5 y.o with the youngest one being 17 months. I choose an easy recipe - a tiramisu with raspberries and speculoos (Belgian biscuits). Just for the record, the normal attention span is 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child's age, and therefore, the preparation time should not go over 15-20 minutes or you will lose the little ones. With that in mind, it is best to prepare all the ingredients beforehand leaving the children to just cut, pour ingredients, mix and try!
Since cooking is not only a chemical process but a sensorial experience, when you cook with children, their 5 senses should be activated:
Here is the recipe for a small tiramisu to make with your kids.
Please share your experiences of cooking with your kids!
Before California, I was really not an avid athlete. There were times that I would go running and then not run at all for a month! When I came to California, I had nothing to do most of the time since I did not work, and so my husband decided to get me to sail.
The very first time that we went for sailing together was in Israel. He told me that it was easy but when we got on the boat and he asked me to pull a line, I couldn’t even get anything to move. Next moment, we were going back.
After this incident, he sent me to an Opening Day in a sailing club in Berkeley. It was pretty fun until I felt into the water. I was so angry that the instructor had let me fall in the water that we waited a little bit until my next time on a boat. My loved one decided to personally take up the role of instructing me and so we took a dinghy at the Santa Cruz Boating Center. He was doing everything, but at one point, there was no wind, and somebody from the center came to help. We asked her if she could tow us further to catch some wind. We tied our boat to her motor boat but when she sped off the mast fell down. We were both shocked but I stayed calm since the situation was under control: my husband caught the mast in time and had it on his shoulder the entire way.
You must think that after those scary experiences my sailing career had come to an end even before it had began but it was actually just the beginning!
I finally enrolled into sailing lessons and we settled for Santa Cruz boating center, which had fair prices. Their staff were also very patient and competent.
My husband was a little bit disappointed that I did not continue sailing after this training but I wanted to prove to him that the training had not gone to waste. I suggested that he and I go sailing together for him to see it for himself. And so, I went on my first race though I probably should have taken the intermediary classes beforehand. We did not win the race but I won the respect of my husband!
He told me that I had the talent and that sailing seemed pretty natural to me. This meant that I was not so bad. Since then, I have only gone sailing with him and now that we have our own boat, he is training me to be a skipper.
This is just a short video on my journey as a fresh and still learning skipper (yes there is still a lot of work to do but we are hopeful that I will get there)