A B Twinkle C

Have you experimented with humming songs with your children?
I have a fun game!  ‘Let’s hum ABC/alphabet song’… And we do. ‘NOW let’s hum Twinkle, twinkle little star’….. And we do.  Hang on, what?!  We hummed the same tune for both songs!!!!!
One of the reasons children’s songs like these are so powerful for their brains….  They carry simple melodies that make it easy to sing and for their brain to remember.  So much so, they even double up. :)


Have a go with Baa Baa Black Sheep next!

Chocolate made with love…not marketing

So if you get the urge to throw the Easter eggs away, the next step is to head straight to a health food store to pick up any ingredients you might be missing…for this wonderful home made chocolate.   This chocolate is so quick and easy. The only thing to remember is you need to eat it straight out of the fridge as it will soon start to melt. You can use a recipe with cocoa butter which will help to keep it from melting, but it is a bit more involved.  Try Google if you’re up for it.

IMG_9269[1]Recipe
1 cup Cold pressed Coconut Oil
1 cup Cacao powder
1tsp Vanilla essence
Raw honey to taste (start with a 1/4 cup and see how you go). Don’t use the honey from supermarkets as it is processed and has sugar added.

Your imagination for flavours : nuts, seeds, cinnamon, coconut, chia, orange zest, cacao nibs etc!

Mix coconut oil, cacao and vanilla. Then slowly add honey and test for your level of sweetness.

Place nuts, seeds etc on baking paper on a baking tray.

Pour chocolate over the top.

Place in fridge to harden. Break into pieces.

The kids can’t believe we have ‘made’ chocolate. I have to keep myself on rations…  And it is amazing to eat chocolate made with love, instead of decorated with marketing :) Heidi

 

Let the children show you how yoga is done!

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Despite being more of a physical exercise for adults, yoga for children possibly has more benefits for their brain and mind.  Let’s first look at the benefits of introducing yoga to your little ones.  What’s in it for them?

No age is too young to start!

No age is too young to start!

Yoga connects the body, mind and spirit.  Children are very in touch with their intuition at a young age however, our early education system promotes a focus on the child’s ‘mental body’.  Children are prompted to learn literacy and numeracy from a young age.  Shifting their attention to these cognitive tasks, draws attention away from important right brain development which is responsible for creativity and imagination.  It is also the reason that many of us as adults have lost our ability to use our intuition, creative skills and the ability to just ‘feel’.  Yoga helps children to access their ‘spiritual body’, to be creative, to use their ‘gut instinct’ and their senses, by paying attention to their breathing, body and surrounding environment.

yoga's finished...time to listen to the sounds around us

yoga’s finished…time to listen to the sounds around us

Yoga promotes increased focus and attention.  It provides your child with a useful toolkit of self-calming strategies, particularly teaching how to breathe and relax.  It is also a useful strategy to promote mindfulness.  See more about mindfulness here.

Yoga teaches your child about body awareness.  Brain development occurs very quickly when a child has to work out where their body is in space.  How do they move their body to get into THAT pose?  And from cobra pose on their tummy, to downward dog on their hands and feet, to baby pose on their back?  Body awareness is also developed when talking about the different body parts and explaining where to put each.  This might be ‘put your hand down next to your foot’ or ‘now turn your shoulder up to the sky’.

my feet where? hands where?

my feet where? hands where?

Yoga promotes respecting the environment, and others.  Yoga is done cooperatively together, not competing against other children.  It is ideally performed outside where children can take notice of the environment (the wind, the trees, the wildlife, the weather), whilst they are doing yoga.

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And of course strength and balance comes with yoga.  Kids are just maintaining flexibility!

So what happens in Kid’s Yoga?

First things first, you’ll need to keep your child’s attention, so it must be FUN.  Kid’s Yoga not only means body poses, but also learning about breathing, body awareness and their surroundings.  Giselle Shardlow has created enticing Kids Yoga Stories to motivate children to practice yoga.*

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

ooh they saw a ‘monkey’!

 

Being like a tree... and not thinking about it too much!

Being like a tree… and not thinking about it too much!

They feature adventure-style stories which feature a character who not only cares for the environment but also stops to do a yoga pose or two on each page of the story.  This gives children something visual to go by but also a theme to help them visualise the pose they are attempting.  So when your child goes on a jungle adventure, they might end up doing ‘cat’ pose for a jaguar or if they went on a beach trip, they would end up doing ‘warrior’ pose for ‘surfing’.

Being a butterfly in the jungle

Being a butterfly in the jungle

This is how Kids Yoga sessions compare with an adult’s session.

1. Set up - yes a yoga towel or mat + a drink bottle is still ideal.  A Kids Yoga Story really does hold their attention however you could certainly attempt your own stories once you are familiar with some of the poses.  Or go online for some inspiration too.  We love to do yoga outdoors so we can be with nature and notice the environment with all of our senses, but inside is good if the weather isn’t great!

'Sailing' at the 'beach'... with Master 2 spectator

‘Sailing’ at the ‘beach’… with Master 2 spectator

2. Music – no, you don’t have to stick with any particular type of music.  Whatever gets your children inspired in the theme is a great choice.  But do think outside the box.  The Wiggles Beach Party songs might be a first pick, but could also be distracting.  The Beach Boys is a different alternative.  You could even create a playlist of all of the songs that relate to say ‘the jungle’.  Or you could just put on ‘rainforest’ songs or classical music.  OR you could just go with the sounds around you.

3. Preparation – not so much on body and breathing, but of the story and theme.  Taking the time to discuss what you might expect to see on your adventure gets children into the theme even more so and excited to look at the book.  Don’t forget to remind your children about their surroundings and to use their senses.

4. Structure – this one does go out the window with kids! But the great thing is, sometimes the children will show you how they like their yoga sessions to flow.  And as long as they are still enjoying yoga and receiving any of the benefits listed above, you can let go of following the story exactly or doing the pose so precisely.  Let your children show you how kid’s yoga is done!

Fun wins over precision

Fun wins over precision

5. Taking time - there is no rush with kid’s yoga.  If the kids stop to go and grab a stick for a prop or if they decide they would like to enjoy their rest and watch the clouds for longer at the end, that is what happens.  As long as you are enthusiastic and accepting of their ideas, they will run the session in their own way!

taking the time on his own..

taking the time on his own..

6. Post-yoga activities - the list is endless of what you could carry onto.  Morning tea on the towels noticing the trees or clouds or birds is a great way to stay ‘mindful’ and relaxed.  Other activities could be continuing the yoga theme (such as ‘the beach’) and exercising the right brain with some painting, drawing or playdough modelling.  Make use of the towels in summer and let the kids have fun blowing bubbles in cups with straws until their hearts are content!  Blowing involves breathing and the diaphragm which promotes further relaxation.  Alternatively, you could think about a theme for the next yoga session.

For those interested in one of the Kids Yoga Stories to get them started, here is the website http://www.kidsyogastories.com/.

Otherwise, take a towel outside and see what moves your children might come up with!  You might be surprised as to how much they enjoy it  :) Heidi

* This is not a paid presentation but an endorsement of a really great set of books :)

When bananas get boring…

When bananas get boring, why not add coconut?  Coconut brings the good fats which keeps your child fuller for longer.  And the dipping is a kid enticer too.

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We do organic dessicated coconut to avoid nasty preservatives.  And why not compare coconut milk brands while you’re at it.  Some have a long list of ingredients, others are simpler.  I go full fat for the growing boys

:) Heidi

Have you signed up to follow I raise my kids yet?

The fork in the path…for I raise my kids

Well I guess it’s an announcement!  Lately I’ve realised how passionate I am about helping children to become healthy and adventurous eaters AND to avoid the ‘modern illnesses’ that so many children I come across are presenting with these days.  So I’ve decided to study nutrition to use alongside my speech pathology (did you realise we deal with picky eaters?) toolkit.
So for the next year I will be using a lot of I Raise My Kids time to study…
But I do promise to keep posts coming!  Please let me know of any topics/questions you’d like me to cover in the near future :) Heidi

Where am I going today Mummy?

[9 months+] Have you started defining the different places your little one goes?  This means saying the word and showing them by pointing or with gestures ‘at the time’.
For example, when you arrive at daycare say at the front gate, ‘daycare’, point, ‘daycare’.  Repetition is good!  Extend this to ‘granny and pop’s’ at the front of their house or ‘play group’, ‘shops’, ‘home’, when you arrive.  Be sure your little one pairs the word with the correct meaning.

Short term goal – Soon you’ll be able to say this word prior to going there and seeing if your little one gives you recognition that they understand.

Longer term goal – You’ll be able to let your little one know every place they are going to before you get in the car or leave the house.

I know I’d want to know where I was going each time I was being taken out of the house and also when I was going home.


The key is to define define define every place you go to first!

Our backyard classroom

Did you see my post on our ‘creation table’?  We take it to different places in the backyard and the boys immediately start to use these different environments whilst they paint…  There’s been decorated passion fruit, painted tomato and basil leaf prints and some green cherry tomatoes used to roll over the paper and make a print.  Sometimes we paint or draw what we see..
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Interacting with the outdoors provides children with a way to access mindfulness.  We talk about the sensory properties of the garden, take note of the clouds and birds we can see or hear and think about what we are focused on.  Just try it and you’ll automatically feel calmer and ready to create!

 

The no dry carbs rule

One rule for feeding my kids – they are never served dry crackers or plain rice, pasta, quinoa etc.  This is to avoid them getting stuck on the idea that plain is better..or even an option!
Pasta, rice, rice noodles or quinoa could still be served on the side but with a dressing at least.  It might be sesame or olive oil (cold pressed to avoid refined oils) or tahini or even coconut oil or avocado.
For Master 2 who is still learning to eat ‘mixed textures’, such as a casserole, I might give him a corn thin with avocado to buffer him.  But I will present the casserole first and let him have a go, then place the corn thin on top of the casserole…so he has to at least try the sauce, which has made it’s way onto the corn thin.  Eventually, there’ll be no corn thin.  And slowly he has began to pick out more and more ‘bits’ to eat :) Heidi
oops there's some sauce on the corn thin and hummous...

oops there’s some sauce on the corn thin and hummous…

Imaginative play; a milestone to celebrate

[~2years]
This should be a milestone that every parent looks forward to.  When your child first starts to talk and play imaginatively by themselves!
Your child will need to be ready with plenty of language to make up play actions and stories, that they have seen in their everyday life.
Here Master2 placed a piece of cake with his monkey and told him ‘here, I’m just going outside’.
Since then he has relied on others to show him more play actions whilst making some up himself.  He will create longer and longer play scenes as he develops more language, attention and understanding of the world……….and then I will get more done myself!
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Control, guilt, shame, anger

Speaking from first hand experience, it is much easier to work on yourself staying ‘cool’ when your kids try to steal your calm than trying to pick up the pieces, for your kids and you!

So how do you do this?
- Being ‘mindful’ is one way (link in comments to post about mindfulness).
- Dealing with your own emotions is another. Anger, control, guilt and shame, amongst other emotions, can all stem from not receiving enough love when we grew up, (even when we thought we did) OR particular events. This all affects how we respond to our own children when we get our ‘calm’ taken from us.

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It will always be easier to deal with any type of tantrum or emotional turmoil your child can throw at you, when you are not holding onto negativity from your own past.

How do you let go of this?
In a simple answer, getting to the source of your anger or your controlling issues or whatever it is AND THEN expressing it, will release that energy. You can express emotions through screaming (in an appropriate place!), writing it out, crying or even moving (say yoga poses).


Once you have released your what’s holding you back from the past, you will be amazed at the patience, understanding and calm you can have with your own kids. Then it just involves being mindful, to keep on top of your emotions.

Let me know if you want more information on this! :)  Heidi