Google+ Authentic Parenting: June 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Understanding your child’s online life

Content provided by Janice

To a parent, the online life of their children can seem impossible to fathom, a world of emoticons, indecipherable acronyms and hours and hours of cat videos. However, the internet can also pose dangers to your child, from cyber-bullying to online grooming. Getting involved in your child’s online life can not only help you understand them a little more, but it can also ensure that they don’t fall prey to certain dangers.

It can be tempting to keep an eye on your child’s activities by way of some sneaky spyware in the form of parental controls and monitoring applications. Although such software can be invaluable when it comes to protecting your child, actually sitting down with them and having a conversation about the dangers of the internet can remove the need for such measures in the first place.

Familiarise yourself and your child with the multitude of child focused domains available, check out’s child safe website list here - this parenting blog has resident experts that share their opinions and recommendations for parents. From safe browsers to fun games and resources, your child can learn how to use the internet in a safe and controlled environment. This also ensures that you are involved in your child’s online life from the very beginning, preventing it from becoming something secretive or even dangerous.

Already online

If you are the parent of older children or teenagers, then the likelihood is that their online lives are already well established. However, you can still involve yourself in their online lives by taking the time to have a discussion about the dangers of the internet and finding out if your children understand what these are.

Children need guidance and parental input to steer them in the right direction online, and away from harmful and illegal content. Without knowing the dangers, it can be all too easy for a child to be fooled by a predator online pretending to be their friend, or they can become engaged in emotionally damaging cyber-bullying without knowing how to extract themselves from the situation. Having open and honest conversations about their online activity can help to minimise this.

Encourage open internet use in family spaces rather than secretive internet activity. Monitor your child’s time online so it does not become excessive, and talk to them so they are aware that not everyone may be who they claim to be online. Ensure your children know that they must keep sensitive and personal information about themselves private, and teach them how to become a critical user of the internet, helping them to use their skills of deduction without scaring them.

With regular and unobtrusive chats about your child’s online life, such discussions can become commonplace, allowing your child to have an exciting and enriching online experience without you needing to worry.

photo credit: Kaptain Kobold via photopin cc


Monday, June 9, 2014

Istanbul with Kids - Day 1

As we're spending some time in Turkey, I'm happy to share our experiences exploring the streets of Istanbul with a six year old and a two year old. We have always travelled with our kids and I wouldn't do it any other way. Many are afraid doing cultural travel with kids, but with a little planning and some considerations, it can actually be quite amazing.

Today, I will share what we did on our first day. We take things slow, and take time to look at small details, to run on the marketplace and have an icecream in between. It is possible to do more on one day, so see what is possible for your family.

Grand Bazaar
Our hotel is at the Asian side of Turkey, so in the morning, we have to cross the Bosphorus. We did
this deliberately, since we thought the morning journey with the ferry (it is also possible by road, but less fun), would relax the kids, while being exciting at the same time and put them in visiting mood. In any case it's much more fun to run around on a ferry deck and watch jellyfish than to be strapped in a car for over an hour. (Our Ferry starts at Usküdar and stops in Eminönü)

After the ferry, we took the tram from Eminönü to Beyazt. Right across the square is the entrance to the bazaar. Vigilance is required when you're travelling with small children as there are lots and lots of narrow streets and a lot of people, so it's easy to get lost.

What to buy? Obviously this depends on your needs, but here are a few tips:

  • organic soaps 
  • 'peshtamal' or Turkish Hamam towel - these are lightweight, quick drying cotton towels, look for the higher end ones as they are softer than the cheap variety - you can find these in organic cotton too
  • Alladin type slippers for the kids
  • Turkish delight, get the honey based kind
  • If you like jewellery, you're in for a treat! 
  • Lots of choice in handmade clothes, shoes and bags.
Entrance is free for all, but you can end up spending quite a few bucks with all this loveliness around.

photo credit: laszlo-photo via photopin cc

Blue Mosque
From the Grand Bazaar, the Blue mosque is just a brief walk away, follow the tramlines back the way you came. Stop in one of the many lovely restaurant for a lovely Kebap meal.
The blue mosque is the part of this day my daughter loved most. You have to wait until the end of service. Enjoy the lovely tiles and amazing architecture and take a moment to read up on the building's history and Islam from one of the free pamflets.

Entrance is free for all

photo credit: doc(q)man via photopin cc

Arasta Bazaar and Mosaic Museum
Coming out of the blue mosque, you will see arrows towards the Arasta Bazaar and the Mosaic Museum. These are certainly worth a recommendation  even though they are less known and slightly off the beaten track (maybe just because of this). The Arasta Bazaar is just one long street of handicraft shops. Ask your kids to look for the evil eyes, they'll have a blast (they're in the pavement, in the stalls, on the entrance ways...), prices seem slightly lower than at the Grand Bazaar and you'll value the relative calm after the Bazaar and the Mosque.

The Mozaic museum is very impressive, to say the least. Again, less visited but truly worth the detour. You can view gorgeous Byzantine mosaics and learn about the conservation process. 

Entrance is 10TL. Kids enter for free

photo credit: via photopin cc

The Basilica Cistern
An incredible piece of architecture, the Basilica Cistern, a small walk away from the Mosaic Museum, is one of the many water reservoirs the city built over time. It is gorgeously lit and certainly one of the most 'must see' monuments in Istanbul. Expect big lines at the counter, but inside it's relatively calm. 

Entrance fee was on the higher end of Istanbul's tourist sites, but I don't remember and prices online are dated. I think it's 20TL.

photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) via photopin cc

After all this, the kids still wanted more, but quite honestly, we were pretty knackered. Then again, we weren't being carried around. There are quite a few things to see around without having to travel great distances: you can have a look at the vestiges of the hippodrome, the million monument...

Additional information:

  • public transport fares (ferry included) are 3TL for a trip (a little over 1 euro/about 1,50USD). Get your token at one of the yellow machines near the entrance of your stop
  • Where to eat? Istanbul offers a great variety of food at very affordable prices. Stop anywhere that looks clean and you'll have a nice meal. Throughout walks, you'll also find a big variety of street fods: seasonal fruit, boiled corn, chestnuts, ice cream, fresh fruit juices...
Look out for my posts on two more days of visiting Istanbul with kids!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Back in Belgium


Monday, June 2, 2014

How Will I Teach My Child Math When I Don't Understand It and Do They Really Need Math - Unschooling Questions Answered

I recently got the above question in a Facebook group I'm active in and wanted to share the answer
with you, as it is a recurrent question.

First of all, my husband is an engineer and I followed Latin-Sciences in High School (what we call Secondary school in Belgium), which is quite a lot of math...
Am I now using math? Yes, a little, since I'm working with payments and budgets etc... but even more so since we're renovating a house. But that's indeed basic math, and even my husband doesn't use the advanced equations you see at the end of High School, and he is an engineer!

On the other hand, a certain knowledge of math is necessary in life, because you DO need it everywhere: in cooking, construction, shopping...

So what's my view on math as an unschooler? The philosophy of unschooling is that you learn what you need, when you need it, because then the interest is there.

Like what this boy talks about.

My daughter has phases where she wants to do math, true math, pure math, the boring kind in books with no images, counting, substracting... and then she forgets about it for a while. And yes, she 'still' can't count to 100 (she's nearly 6), but she can add and substract and sometimes thinks about these things.

In unschooling, 'math' isn't something separate, it is just a part of life. Like when I buy 5 ice creams for the freezer and she eats two, she'll want to figure out how many are left. And when my husband leaves for a month, she'll want to know how many nights, and will substract each night she slept until he comes back. Interest in math is there in kids, it's just squished by the 'system'. The system which strips away clothes, shopping, icecreams, construction and turns math into something abstract, something that makes 'will we ever need this stuff' a valid question.

As long as there are no subject matters, that question isn't there. It's not 'math', it's life.

I won't sit at the table and make my daughter do math quizzes and offer her a gold star when she finishes, but I will make sure to have age-appropriate things in the house that has something to do with numbers, some things pretty formal, others not so, and I'll also use the occasion when my kids show an interest... But I won't spin it out or push the question just because it's math.

So what about when you as a parent don't grasp math yourself? When your child reaches a point where your immediate knowledge isn't enough to satisfy their needs, reach out.

As an unschooling parent, you are not the teacher, you are a guide. You're there to help your children collect the knowledge they need when they do, but this doesn't mean you need to provide the knowledge, bite-size. It means reaching out to people who are active in the field, going to the library to find books about the topic, buying them an illustrated book about thermodynamics for their birthday...

Step out of the idea that there is one answer to each question and into the thought that your children have the drive - with steering and some help - to find the answers themselves.

This is the video that sparked this conversation: