Listening to the music in my mind

 

spontoneity

 

Anytime / Anywhere learning, is a notion I just recently became familiar with and it kind of latched onto my mind, where it has been germinating ever since. It’s a notion supported by some notable Harvard educators, that simply states a child is able to learn and will be more motivated to do so when they feel inspired by a certain topic on their terms.

While on a long road trip with my entire family, CloClo the dog, and belongings (mostly clothes) from Las Vegas to the Grande Canyon, I looked back in the rear view mirror and noticed my smallest daughter dancing in her seat. She was celebrating something personal, while gently swaying from side-to-side and smiling from ear-to-ear. Which of course made me smile and nudge my husband to look over.

“What going on sweetie?” he asked playfully to my daughter”

“Oh, nothing. I was just making up words to the music playing on the radio.” she answered

“You’re not really feeling the country music vibe, anymore?” he said

“Nope, not really. I’m just in the mood for something different” she said offhandedly

I had an idea, why not put on some music that everyone enjoys and create a little family sing-a-long. I know, it sounds a little corny, but once the enthusiasm sets in, it becomes really alot of fun. I give the family a rotating choice and everyone gets a chance to choose their favorite. By the trick is to show excitement in their choices and earn their respect for staying with yours, and they will.

I took the opportunity to put in a children’s French sing-a-long with simple music and catchy melodies. The kids and to my delightful surprise, especially my husband join in like a chorus. I was in heaven feeling like the honeymooners.

Send me your stories and experiences with Anytime/Anywhere learning….

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cafe’ Contemplation

I am sitting in a Starbucks enjoying a little espresso and reflecting on the musing which go on in ones’ mind, while the banter and chatter of other patrons play on in the  background, there happens to be a make shift mommies’ group setting up in the corner literally on the floor, the parents have formed a wall of protection, with strollers and vacant chairs around the playful kids and everyone appears to be having a great time of it.

We're all in this together

We’re all in this together

It always flatters me to see a few men in these groups surrounded by these mommies because they seem somewhat out of their comfort zones but really hanging in there, “walking the talk” about being present with their own children

One would never see a sight like that in Europe, where the countenance is much more reserved and guarded. Children together with their parents in a public setting are required to be much more contained. They don’t run amok, screaming and laughing with abandon especially at a cafe. And whether your views on this are fore or against, it’s really just a judgement call.

I like to watch children enjoying themselves and it tickles my funny bone to see them explode with silliness. Do they get out of hand? Certainly and sometimes, but we’ve gotten to use to trying to shut it down too quickly and not allow for the pleasant noise of happiness :)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/opinion/sunday/raising-successful-children.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

 

A Crepe, A Crepe, my Kingdom for a Crepe

My children are always on a constant vigil for the ultimate crepes, like the ones we so thoroughly enjoyed off a side street in Paris just a few summers ago. We emerged from the metro in the 7th arrodisement and proceeded down the Rue Cler on our way back to the hotel when we saw the group of people milling around the late night corner crepes stand.

which way did they go...

which way did they go…

The exotic smells in Europe are what entices you the most. They are so much more vibrant and distinct; from the foods, the coffee, the perfume, to the early morning sidewalk hose down all bring forth places like Paris into the etched recesses of your memory. Whenever, from then on, you wander into those combination of senses it will certainly take you back to your favorite haunts in Europe.

But the animation that night was intoxicating and we were having a blast, so we stopped to purchase a favorite or two. We as a large family always try and share each others food before we select our own. I have quite simply loved the creme de marron, chestnut creme filled crepes which I find sublime. My daughter on the other hand goes for the banana chocolate, buck wheat crepes, usually with vanilla ice cream, but since we were on foot that evening I think that might have been a little hard to navigate.

I noticed how enjoyable the simple pleasure of eating crepes with your family and a fun group of strangers could really been. My crepes was “new” and foreign, we certainly do not eat a lot of chestnut creme back home, but I am always amazed that my children will at least give it a try. They have been exposed to different foods their entire life and specifically the French flair, but what I” particularly like is their openness to enjoy something different. It’s one thing to “try” something and quite another to keep that open mind about appreciating it. Believe me, I have had friends who plugged their noses and practically gagged as they “tried” escargot because they wanted to be experimental. You’ll be amazed at the heights your children will reach for if you raise the bar.

 

Delicious

Delicious

You don’t have to cut the cord, but you can let out some line :)

Must test your wings sometime

Must test your wings sometime….

“I want to go to France this summer….. But, by myself.”  My fourteen year old daughter is on a quest to spread her wings and fly. Yes, I took it as a mark of independence and in between a series of panic attacks that shot through my entire body, I let the feeling of excitement for her surface. I should have known that stories of my own exchange experience that I ranted and raved about would come back to bite me….. dans les fesses!

What did she want to get out of her experience this summer and what might the experience might look like? Being immersed in the language was really huge for her. True, I speak French at home with the kids. But, everyone who has raised bilingual kids will tell you that it is not the same as being in the country itself, where you are hearing it day and night. Where, essentially the environment is helping you with your efforts. Plus, learning the slang and the attitude that goes with certain expressions is really half the fun, when you’re young.  She wanted to, “take in the way the French do things.” Part of that will mean that she will get to attend school for a few days.  Since the French school year ends later than ours  she will get a little glimpse in the daily school life;  how classes are conducted, the way students interact with their teachers. That will be very fun to see, since the French are quite outspoken.

Next,  we had to discuss the finances. Summer in France could be quite costly, even though the host family is assuming the room, board and trips that will be taken. The flights are certainly no longer the prices I was used to paying as a teen or young adult. (They’ve tripled.) But, when my daughter offered to pay for the trip, I knew she was serious. It also thwarted my argument.  Paying for her trip, meant she would be more invested and engage in her experience.

We are still a few weeks away from the trip, but she has started to Skype her host family and communicating with the young girl that will be coming back to the U.S.; for her turn at a cultural exchange.  But I can tell you that the process is exhilarating. We talk all the time about what the experience might be like. One of the things she asked the host family, was if they could go to the markets (as in the food markets) as often as possible. She is a real foodie, and wherever she goes food plays a big part in the experience.

Overall, I figure (that if I can manage to keep breathing,) I think this will be a great initiation to bigger travels and global education adventures, and peak the interests of each of my kids.

Even if your child or you are not ready to be an exchange student you can start by hosting one. It will give you a wonderful perspective on another culture and it will spark curiosity as a family!!!

Reasons to be an exchange student : read more article:

http://www.ehow.com/info_7974688_reasons-foreign-exchange-student.html

Importance of global education : http://www.outreachworld.org/article.asp?articleid=77

 

 

Why is global education so important : next article

Bon Manners

The title, “A history of politeness in France”, might strike the uncharitable as being a very short book indeed.

Paris skyline

The famed romance of Paris may need to be tempered with realism

But Frederic Rouvillois’ definitive study of manners through the ages in France weighs in at a crushing 550 pages.

It joins Nadine de Rothschild’s best-selling bible of politeness in offering advice to those in need of guidance on how to behave in that oxymoron, “polite French society”.

For this season of festive meals can be a minefield for those uneducated in French ways.

Oh, if only I had read their advice before venturing out to my first Parisian dinner party.

I had arrived punctually at the chic Parisian flat on the Left Bank, on the dot of eight o’clock in the evening, as per the invitation, bearing flowers for my hostess.

I wondered why she seemed slightly put out. I realised, when the other guests – politicians, a philosopher, a banker or two and their wives – finally arrived an hour later.

The conversation was in rapid-fire French, no allowances made for the only foreigner in the room.

So, to make myself feel more at ease, I reached over to a bottle of wine, to pour myself a second glass.

The entire table suddenly fell silent as the wine emerged loudly, and in slow motion, into my glass.

A deep froideur descended as 10 pairs of steely Parisian eyes turned to stare. I smiled weakly and remained quiet for the rest of the meal, fleeing as soon as I politely could.

Clearly, I had committed an unforgivable faux pas, although what it had been I wasn’t sure. Read more….

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6205403.stm

 

Slowing down to explore the light

It’s Spring break and my time to hold a small “French Camp” for a select few motivated students, who are intrested in the learning a bit of the French culture and cusine. I usuallly structure the class for a few hours every morning in three parts:

1st hour the children practice outdoor games greeting each other at the door with “bonjours and comment ca va’s” and little introductory phrases which expand as the class week progresses.  2nd hour is devoted to preparing a petite gouter and the 3rd hour is for a section of French Culture. This week was “The Impressionist Painters.”

The children were truly capitvated by the the artists innovated use of light to capture the ephereal emotion of the moment. We discussed Monet, and Manet, Degas, Van Gough and others. But what enabled them to really connect to this advangard   movement was the style of George Seurat and pointalism. They went absolutely gaga

So I realized by watching them and their pictures develope that the immediate focus is on the placement of the point in relation to the other points and the overall composition of the subject and by steping back a few feet the play of points merge with the eyes to create a dancing image. A coherent image and beautiful creation and the association to parenting sprung up. That we make our so called points to our children everyday and it’s not the one single point that shapes their character, it’s the millions of points of view that are beheld at a distance or taken over time create the happy adult.

George Seurat "Sunday in the Park"

George Seurat “Sunday in the Park”

The traveling child

Where are "U" headed too?

Where are “U” headed too?

Traveling is the heroic balance between hetic and adventure, where even the most carefully laid out plans are subjected to on-the-spot revisions,tweeks and major adjustments. Airlines cancel flights, hotels in faraway lands cannot find our reservations, lost luggage, taxi drivers, who may or may not have understood our directions and children.
Many times we are concerned about the enjoyment of traveling with young children. We are not sure if they will be alright? if they will be as excited as we are about sharing the airplane and tight space with others? Will the food suit them? How will they adjust to the time changes? So, I’m putting it out there: read more……
http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/tips-traveling-children/story?id=13399771” It really is amazing that we venture from the cozy comfort of our homes at all. But we do and always will.