Category Archives: guest post

Visiting New Zealand with Kids? Try these exciting and educational activities.

Today I have a guest post from Harper Reid.  Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who has a passion for child learning and development. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her reading through the latest E-learning trends and early childhood activities. You can find more of her work on her Tumblr.  (Disclaimer: this post does not contain sponsored content).

Though I haven’t visited New Zealand myself – it is top of my list (alongside Reggio Emilia) of must visit places in the world. If you are lucky enough to visit New Zealand, you may like to try out some of her suggestions.
Whether you’re from or live outside of New Zealand, vacationing around Aotearoa with kids, is the family adventure for a lifetime. New Zealand’s towns and cities are a veritable treasure trove for tourists – and especially for families. With outdoor experiences and historical sights galore, you won’t have to work too hard to schedule an exciting itinerary for your time in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
1. Explore the country’s national reserves

new zealand park

Image Source Park via Pexels.com

New Zealand’s national parks and reserves make introducing your kids to the country’s topography and native wildlife a dream – and with so many to choose from, you’ll have no shortage of outdoor days. Some of the most beautiful reserves include Abel Tasman National Park on the top of the South Island, Tongariro in the central North Island (particularly stunning in winter), and the stunning Mount Aspiring National Park near Lake Wanaka.

What’s more, the reserves are dotted with informative plaques, native wildlife habitats, and informed guides to get your mini-biologists looking out for specific species of flora and fauna.

2. Go on a heritage tour

Because New Zealand’s recorded history spans just over a couple of centuries, many of the country’s first settler houses and towns are still in pristine condition. This is great news for budding history buffs in the family.

To explore 19th-century New Zealand’s goldrushing history, put Arrowtown in Central Otago  on your map, and consider road-tripping around Hokitika on the West Coast to discover some pioneer-era halfway houses. You’ll also want to schedule in a stop at Waitangi to discover more about Aotearoa’s fraught bicultural past – a great way to introduce your kids to issues of colonisation and land ownership.

3. Get involved in rural life

agriculture-animals-blue-skies-710263

Photo credit Gabriel Peter

New Zealanders take great pride in their rustic roots, which is why the national education system makes room for unique outdoor play experiences like Calf Club and Agriculture Days.

Held in the springtime, Calf Club and Agriculture Days are a wonderful way to get up and close with New Zealand’s preeminent dairy and agriculture industry, and will allow your children to see what’s distinctive about an NZ upbringing – namely, the ability to rear your own sheep, calf, or goat, and bring it along for judging!

You might also consider attending an A&P lifestyle show, which is basically a Calf Club Day on a larger scale. Complete with horse and cattle events, shearing, and fun food stalls and rides for all the family to enjoy, you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.

4. Visit one of NZ’s top museums

New Zealand may be small, but its museums are world-quality. Auckland’s Maritime Museum, the Otago Museum, Te Manawa in Palmerston North – near every major centre, will serve up culture and history to feed to your kids.

Wellington’s Te Papa, in particular, is sure to enthral children and adults alike. With exhibitions about everything from World War I, to giant squid, to New Zealand’s Maori culture and heritage, there isn’t much you won’t find at Te Papa. And make sure you experience the earthquake simulator, too.

5. Encounter the Antarctic

newzealand aquarium

unsplash-logoCaroline Hernandez

Probably because of its geographical proximity to the continent, New Zealand is host to a variety of Antarctica-related experiences which you’d be smart to take advantage of whilst you’re in the country. If in Auckland, make a beeline to Kelly Tarlton’s, the world-famous aquarium which offers an “Antarctic Encounter” experience complete with penguins and snow.

Go all-out in the South Island with a trip to Christchurch’s Antarctic Centre, a vast warehouse near the airport which is just about as close as most of us will ever get to Scott’s Base.

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For my children…

This post was originally written by a dear friend of mine who writes about her life since she was diagnosed with MS. We all want the best for our children but what do you do when you know that you may have passed on a genetic condition? Please visit her blog Memsand beingmum.wordpress.com to follow her story and to offer support to anyone you may know who lives with MS. She is a true inspiration to us all.

my oms life

I was asked to write a guest post (re-blogged below) for the lovely www.stumblinginflats.com. Do take at look at her site. She connects with many other MS bloggers/survivors and is keen to network with others. Thanks to her for the guest blog opportunity. I decided to write about something that is a little unspoken for many of us mums whose lives have been touched by MS.

 

Anyone who has been diagnosed with MS knows this is big. The implications of your diagnosis for your children are huge, though in many respects are as yet unknown. Like so much about this condition, you are left with a cloud of uncertainty under which you must continue to raise your precious loves.  Like me I am sure many of you read the information and depending on what and where you read it, it will mean different things. At the very least your…

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How I Encourage my Children to Become Confident Writers

Happy New Year everyone.

writing toddler

The lead up to Christmas was a great time for writing messages in our house.  Our visiting elf Christopher Poppinkins left notes for the girls and they responded with their own notes, we made gifts for the neighbours with a little note attached, wrote Christmas cards for the family, shopping lists and yesterday the girls helped me write a list of songs for my music class.

As children approach school age, parents are often anxious about their children’s emerging literacy and how best to support them at home.

When is the right time to introduce writing?

Does my child need to be able to write their name before they go to school?

How do I start?

Do they have to form letters in a particular way?

Writing is a complex skill involving much more than the correct formation of letters. I can’t guarantee that my girls will continue to love writing but I think we are headed in the right direction.

If you are interested in finding out how I  encourage the girls to write and keep it enjoyable I am sharing some of my experience in a guest post for ‘What to Expect.’

4 Ways to Help Toddlers Fall in Love with Writing

Homeschooling and Expatriation

Thank you to the  The Expat Hub for providing today’s guest post. The Expat Hub is a website with lots of useful tips for those who are considering a move overseas or those like us who have already made the move.

Homeschooling isn’t something I have considered for my own children, we are fortunate to have good schools in the area and my children are happy. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone but the article below outlines the pros and cons of homeschooling both generally and from an expat perspective.

 

homeschoolingHomeschooling is a subject which always seems to inspire debate.
It might not be for everyone but with the number of children being home schooled on the rise it’s clearly a viable option for some families.
But is it a good choice for families who have emigrated?

Before we talk about homeschooling in specific relation to expatriate children here are some of the most commonly argued pros and cons of homeschooling.

Pros

• Testing has shown that homeschooled children are good self-directed learners, do as well in exams as their public/private school counterparts and are well received at colleges and universities.
• Although the national curriculum has to be covered (and the children must prove their competence in specific subjects through testing) generally speaking there is far more educational freedom at home then in the classroom. What can be taught, how it can be taught, and where is much less prescriptive.
• Bullying is a sad aspect of mainstream education, something which can have a negative, and in some cases incredibly serious, impact on a child. In a homeschooling environment bullying isn’t an issue. Consequently a child may be less likely to suffer from low self esteem or condition their behaviour to ‘fit in’. Homeschooling can also be a fantastic way of gradually building up the confidence of a child who has been a victim of bullying in a traditional school.
• By not having to stick to traditional school hours homeschooled children and their parents can work out a schedule which benefits everyone. Children can also stay in bed a little longer, allowing for better rested (and more intellectually receptive) students.
• Homeschooling can also help build stronger ties between family members. Parents of rebellious children have often noted how destructive behaviours lessened or disappeared following a period of homeschooling. Spending more time with their children allows parents to know them better, giving them the opportunity to witness important life changes they could otherwise miss.
• One of the things many parents have commented on is how, without schoolroom distractions, children are able to accomplish more work in a shorter space of time. This often means that the concept of homework going on well into the evening, a major stress of many parents, is no longer an issue.
• During difficult times like illness, bereavement or moving children in traditional education are prone to experience disruption and can find it difficult to focus. The natural flexibility of homeschooling means that it is much easier to work around a family issue.
• Going to a traditional school can also be a costly business. There are school uniforms to buy, PE kits, packed/school lunches, lunch boxes, pencil cases, bus fare/petrol costs and school trips. Some or all of these expenses can be eliminated with homeschooling.

Cons
• Whilst homeschooling is more flexible than having to stick with a school timetable it does take up a lot of time for parents. As well as the actual teaching involved there’s marking, lesson planning/activity organising and lunch making, and a dozen other things besides!
• Some people consider homeschooling to be ‘weird’ and those who do it are in the minority. Parents, and children, must be prepared to experience criticism and negative comments.
• Homeschooling is a full time job, one which requires a serious investment of time and effort. For those parents who have to work alongside to supplement their incomes life can be very busy and tiring.
• Further to the point above, homeschooling can severely limit your household income, particularly for single parents. Even couples can find it a struggle to make ends meet if one of them has to give up work in order to make homeschooling a possibility.
• Although spending more time together as a family is something which sounds like a pro in theory, the reality can be difficult and littered with ups and downs. Parents have to be prepared for the occasional tantrum or argument, and children have to understand the way they’re expected to behave during ‘school’ hours.
• If you have just one or two children to teach the group and team activities you can enjoy together are going to be severely limited. Many homeschooling families find it necessary to enrol their children in extracurricular activities, particularly sporting ones, so they don’t miss out.
• In some instances children who are homeschooled find it difficult to interact with others outside of the home environment. Whilst the loss of social interaction is the main point raised by homeschooling detractors, parents who want to home school can arrange activities, take their children to public events and encourage them to make friends within their local community. Social isolation can be a problem, but it’s one that’s relatively easy to work around.

 

So those are the pros and cons of homeschooling, but what different things do you have to consider if your family is emigrating?

Pros
Firstly, although children tend to adapt to new environments more easily than adults, how well they are able to acclimatise varies hugely according to their age, confidence levels and previous experiences, and can even be affected by whether or not they have siblings.
Generally, the older a child is the more fervent an attachment they will have developed to the home they’ve left behind and the more resistant they’ll be to all the changes in their lives. Homeschooling can be a good option in this case, and it can also help you overcome the initial language barrier older children often face when entering the schooling system abroad.

Choosing between a pricy international school and a cheaper (but often more culturally challenging) local school can be a real headache for parents. Deciding to home school can alleviate some of the stress!

If your move abroad is temporary sending a child to a mainstream school can be a real upheaval when you have to leave. Home schooling is a great way of making sure your child doesn’t miss out on their education without the issues of them having to adapt to a new school only to leave soon after. If you talk to the teachers at your child’s school before you move you may even be able to pick up their curriculum exactly where they left off, making the transition smoother.

The Big Con
If you’ve emigrated for good it’s important to get the family integrated into their new environment as quickly as possible. Homeschooling might be a sensible and attractive option but as a family you run the risk of spending too much time together and not enough time getting to know your new home and meeting new people. When it comes to homeschooling abroad social isolation is as big a problem for parents as children. If it is something you want to pursue ensure that you and your children are involved in separate activities which will encourage you to make your own connections. Building a life for yourself beyond the family home can be the most challenging thing about emigrating and making your family a self sufficient unit really won’t make things easier in the long run!

No payment was received for this guest post.

Wedding Singer / Things that Could go Wrong on your Wedding Day.

This weekend I sang at a friend’s wedding, both in the church and later at the reception with my lovely 7 year old daughter.  This is the thank-you Message that the bride posted earlier, I thought it was beautifully written so she has agreed that I can use it as a Guest Post.

Things that Could go Wrong on your Wedding Day by Jane Northcombe

You could be woken up by rain so torrential that you couldn’t hear yourself think; you could still have a prominent red rash on your (bare) shoulder from the persistent scrubbing of the fake tan so shockingly applied two days previously; your dress could be creased like a screwed up newspaper following the aborted attempt at steaming it by the bridal shop who had double booked themselves the day before your wedding; in setting up the perfect shot, your photographer could fall backwards through the open french window with such a force that the heel is prised from his shoe as his back hits the deck; you could be standing in the lounge in full wedding attire, anxious to get to the church, listening to the strains of your beautiful vintage Austin car turning over and over and over . . Things that could go right on your wedding day: The rain could stop just in time for your three beautiful bridesmaids to leave the house with hair, make-up and dresses intact; you could hold your father’s hand all the way to the church, both sporting big cheesy grins because you’re both so happy; the creases in the silk could enhance the quirky asymmetric design of your fabulous Benjamin Roberts dress, you could walk into a church filled with virtually all your close family and friends; you could manage to refrain from crying when your dear friend sings the most beautiful rendition of Ave Maria; you could marry the man you love; your children could be beautifully turned out, beautifully behaved and be allowed to throw confetti over you inside a church, where the throwing of confetti is not even permitted outside; your two year old could be charmingly two and drive his toy cars around the altar, making loud ‘broom, broom’ noises, keeping the guests amused while the non-spectator sport of signing the registers takes place; the sun could come out at the perfect time and stay hot even to the extent of inflicting sunburn on some unsuspecting shoulders and you and you brand new husband could have the best day of your lives, surrounded by fabulous friends and family. Thank you to everyone who helped make our day so brilliant x

And if you would like to check out the aforementioned rendition of Ave Maria