Category Archives: Families & Kids

For families and the little ones – places to go, things to do.

Member Recommendations – Festive Season Turkey and Goose!

We asked our members recently about where to find the best turkey, goose and poultry in Almere for the upcoming festive season – and here’s their best picks for you!

Hans v.d. Bor – On the market in Stad (Wednesday and Saturdays) (turkey and goose)

” I got a big turkey from the market in Stad last year” – Michelle 

 “I always get it from Hans in the Market” – Christina

Kalkoen Express
Poulier Slagerij j. Tromp (Purmerend) (turkey and goose)

“Tromp is awesome!” – Tanja

Kalkoen Bestellen
Poelier Rijlaarsdam Almere (turkey and goose)

“We got turkey legs and rollade here last year (also kipfilet) and it’s great quality too!” – Brenda

De Worstmakerij 

“There’s a great wholesale butcher in Lelystad, who’s dirt cheap and has the best pork belly! They do turkey too.” – Maarten

Don’t forget, you can still get turkeys from Albert Heijn and from Jumbo (frozen), and closer to Christmas you can also get them fresh in the supermarkets!

Holiday Season Appeal – Can you help us?

It’s August, and being the busy little bees we are, we’re already planning ahead to December and our annual holiday festivities.

December’s holiday season is is a difficult time of year for our families.

Many do not have the opportunity to travel back to their home country, and often spend the holiday period alone, thousands of miles from their loved ones. We aim to try to alleviate this by hosting events aimed at keeping the festive spirit for everyone.

Every year, we plan 2 parties – one for the kids of the group, and one for the adults.  The kids party has magicians, crafts, gifts and a visit from Santa. The adults party is a sit down, 3 course dinner designed to provide a night of  relaxation and a festive atmosphere before the stress of the holiday period starts.

It’s increasingly difficult financially to put on these events, without eating into our reserve funds.

This year we are looking for a little help from all of you to spread our message and make our 2016 Holiday parties the best ones yet!

We are specifically looking for donations of raffle/tombola prizes, financial donations to help subsidise the cost of the children’s event, sponsoring a family in difficulty (financial, medical etc), or even just volunteer some of your time to help us organise the event, approach potential sponsors or be there on the day to help run an activity.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the amount of support we get as to how awesome the party is, and more importantly, how cheap we can put it on for.  We are a group of volunteers, and we very rarely call out for help – but this time we need you! If you can help us in any way – donations, financially or volunteering – click here and send a message through to us about how you can help us make 2016’s December events the ones to remember! (And don’t forget to share the message – the more people who see it, the more chances we have of people helping us!)

christmas appeal holiday webpage email

Introspection: why it matters to teach children to think about their thinking

By Lana Kristine Flores-Jelenjev

When I was teaching psychology to college freshmen one of the questions I often asked my students was “what is your favourite color?”. Soon enough after they answered that question, I then proceeded to the next question, WHY?

How about you? what is your favourite color? Why do you like it? What about that color that speaks to you?

Perhaps we can also use another question, when out on a date and your partner asks you, where do you like to eat?  Or what?  How much of a struggle do you have with making such a decision?

Now let us put it on a bigger scale, when was the last life-changing decision that you made? How long did you deliberate on it? How did you come about making that major decision? How did you know that it was indeed the right choice?

The ability to weigh options and make decisions are skills that as adults we sometimes grapple with. But if we look closely to what those skills are and the building blocks that are needed for them- one essential factor is present. These skills are based on our ability to introspect.

Some people might think that time used reflecting on one’s self is time wasted. But nothing could be further from the truth. Knowing yourself and having awareness of yourself is very important. Introspection and its byproduct, self-awareness are essential to any decision-making (be it small or life-altering), focus, prioritization and action. It is the reason why there are a lot of self-help and psychology books aimed at finding and knowing one’s self.

Another way that we can emphasize on the importance of introspection is through this activity. Think about a behaviour that you do quite easily or naturally, like opening a can of soda. When you pull the tab, what else do you do? Do you put the tab all the way back or do you let it up? Why do you do this? Habit? How did it become a habit? How did the daily things you do become so? How did you form thoughts, ideas and ideals about friendships? About justice? About parenting? About anything you value? There must be a reason why you cry foul over certain issues, or why you say, there are certain issues that you can let go. Introspection is the core in which we learn to understand ourselves better.

Now let’s do another scene and this time consider other people, when was the last time you paid attention to the way your child think? Hopefully not in a belittling way, but seriously, when did you say to your child, I like how you think? Or I like how you solved that problem?  It can even be as simple as “I like how you did that”

These questions are essential in teaching children that not only are we aware of their actions, we are also “present” as parents in our interaction with them. Asking these questions and saying these dialogues open up the opportunity for children to be reflective as well. Asking themselves, “what did I do? What did I come up with? What did I solve?

Perhaps as adults we tend to think of children specially younger ones as not fully capable of introspection because if we think hard about it, when do we really see the first signs that children can reflect on their mental state? Children’s ability to notice and reflect on their own mental states and experiences, and go further up a notch, be able to attribute such states to others, seem to be too big to expect from young children. UC Davis researchers Simona Ghetti, assistant professor of psychology at UC Davis and Kristen Lyons, a graduate student in psychology at UC Davis proved this notion wrong with their studies on metacognition in early childhood.

Their study showed that preschoolers aged 3-5 are capable of pointing to a photo of a confident-looking face when they felt confident that they had the correct answer to the question gave, and, they were also able to point to a photo of a doubtful looking child when they were not as confident with their answer.

This study provides a clear picture of how children use introspection, showing them more capable of such a skill than what we gave them credit for. Results of the study showed that children can introspect about their doubts or more specifically their awareness of their uncertainty for that moment.

Wouldn’t it be grand if, children grew up mastering such a skill? Self-awareness is a prerequisite for a wide range of milestones and decisions. For example,  how to choose the best career? Or why get into a relationship with someone? What can you do to make yourself happy? At the heart of all these questions is our ability to introspect and find the answers.

Like with adults, children need the tools to help them hone their introspective skills. Here are some dialogue prompts that you can try at home to start engaging your child in thinking about his/her thinking:

  1. What makes you say that?
  2. What are you thinking?
  3. How did you feel?
  4. What could this person be thinking?
  5. What could this person be feeling?
  6. What made you excited today?
  7. What was the best part of your day?
  8. What was the least that you liked about your day?
  9. Why do you like it? (best followed by what makes you say that?)
  10. Tell me something that made you happy today (use the other emotion words like frustrated, sad, angry)

Remember, that as much as these prompts are for your child/children, it is also for yourself. Find the time to share your thoughts with your child or the entire family during family conferences. Let everyone know what you are thinking and feeling and make it visible. Through this children realize that the chatter that goes on in their head is pretty normal and sharing it with their family is important. It also gives each other the opportunity to talk about not just what excites them or makes them  positive but most importantly the deep, dark and ugly thoughts that keeps them awake at night and uncertain. Self-awareness is also about building self-esteem and by being able to share these negative thoughts, we also give our children the chance to reflect on their fears and face them.

 

Lana is a child development specialist focused on sharing her expertise with parents on engaging activities to do with young children at home. She is also an education consultant that emphasizes on the importance of using gifted pedagogy in the regular classroom. She writes in her blog Visibly Engaged issues that parents and teachers can relate with and shares articles that they can benefit from. Lana also recently opened her webshop Smart Tinker that promotes the use of educational toys and how it promotes multiple intelligences (M.I.)in children. She is currently writing a book on how to promote M.I. at home through simple yet engaging activities.

Do expat women get judged more?

TEM logo
This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot, but only now have I found (hopefully) the right way to put it into words. The question I’ve been asking myself is whether expat women experience more judgment than women who don’t live abroad. I think there is no definite answer to that question, but I’ll try to look at this from different perspectives.

First of all, women (and oh yes, men) everywhere get judged and shamed every day. I don’t know anybody who didn’t experience being judged at some point. Especially when you’re a mom, suddenly the whole world is watching you, to see whether you are raising your child “the right way”- whatever that means.

In case of expat women, on top of the regular parenting judgment, there is judgment based on cultural differences. Different cultures have different ideas of how a child should be raised, and expat women often raise their children differently from societies they live in- which again results in judgment. Schools, languages, friends, the topic of integration are also all common to expat women, and may also be a source of judgment.

Then, I think that expat women may experience judgment on more than one level. For example, they may be judged by people from their countries of origin, their new home country (and by their husband’s country) and by the expat community, all at the same time. Many women, who are already struggling with their new life abroad, may find this really hard. On the other hand, expat communities are often very open-minded, tolerant and less judgmental.

Then, it may depend on your country of origin. So, you may feel more or less judged, based on where you come from and where you moved. If you felt judged in your home country, you may be relieved and empowered by not feeling the social pressure anymore. It may be more difficult for you if it’s the other way round.

Another aspect is the subjective feeling of being judged. So often we feel judged even though the other person doesn’t mean it that way. Especially if we’re already struggling with some aspect of raising children, an innocent comment can make us feel judged and unsure of our decisions. Expats (and women here are no exception) often feel like outsiders wherever they go. Hence, judgment may not affect them as much- because they have learned to cope with it.

So, are expat women judged more? I don’t know. While writing this, I have realized that the problem is not in being an expat or being a woman. The problem is in judgment. So, maybe, I should ask other questions: Why are women being judged? Why is anybody being judged? How can we deal with judgment? And what can we do to stop it?

Do you have any ideas? Have you felt judged as an expat? How did it make you feel, and what did you do about it? Please share your experiences in the comments!

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Meet Olga Mecking, our regular contributor at International Almere, who is an expert in multilingual life in the Netherlands.

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and 3 trilingual children. In the past, Olga has lived in several countries (including Germany, Canada and the Netherlands), and learned to speak 5, that’s right, 5 languages.

She studied German philology at the University of Warsaw, then followed by a MA in Media Cultures at the University of Bremen. Olga blogs at The European Mama and we recommend you check her out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.[/box]

 

Children

Multilingual parenting ideas that got thrown out of the window — Part Two

If you haven’t already, check out part one in this series here.
This happens to every parent. You wanted to breastfeed only to find that your milk didn’t come in. You wanted to co-sleep only to find that your child hates it. Or you hate it. You wanted to only give your child organic home-made food only to find that your child actually eats sweets. And so the list goes. It is just so normal and very human.
Here is part two of Olga’s confession.  She didn’t achieve everything that she had planned before having children as far as their multilingualism was concerned.  What has fallen by the wayside for you as a parent (multilingual or otherwise)?

 

Having everybody on board

I hoped that if I just were dedicated and educated- and persuasive enough, I could persuade everybody that what I’m doing is beneficial to my children. Little did I know that I would be dealing with some extremely unhelpful and judgemental people. Knowledge and dedication to the cause is not something I’m lacking but I’m too tired to waste my time with people who can’t help or support me even though I know that what I’m doing is right. Sometimes the best way to deal with these sort of people is to ignore their comments and advice, and not to try argue with them.

 

My high expectations

I set out on this multilingual journey with the utter conviction that my children will be poster children. After all, I am bilingual myself, and I for everybody to read and be inspired, and hence my children should act accordingly, right? Wrong. Again, I had to adjust my expectations to Klara’s slow speech and language development. But you know, it doesn’t feel like a failure. Instead, I am proud that my children speak all three languages. I am proud that they’re catching up and progressing. In fact, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I just need to make sure my children are fine.

 

Having a language plan

I can’t think of one instance where a plan proved useful. On the contrary, they fool my brain into thinking that I have done something when the only thing I did was actually writing things down. And while I can understand the usefulness of a language plan for some families, it wouldn’t work for us. We’re just trying to work out things for ourselves, and react accordingly to circumstances. It doesn’t mean however, that we don’t think about the future. Our choice of school proves it. The fact that I’m keeping to speaking to them in Polish proves it. Another thing plans do is that they make you feel like we have control over everything, and we don’t.

 

The idea that if I do things right, I would get the right results

I strongly believed that, just like in all things parenting, if you do things the right way, you will get the right results. And I believed that the same goes for raising multilingual children. Except, parenting isn’t mathematics. Sometimes you do all the right things and still get no results. You could do mistakes and your children could still turn out great. So, no, doing right things right doesn’t guarantee results. We are so desperate to believe that we can control how our children will end up, that we forget we really can’t. So, I can do my best, and hope for the best, but this is all I can do.

 

The idea that it would be easy and natural

I have long ago heard that being a parent- and especially being a mom comes naturally. I have read about the mother’s instincts that will tell me all I need to know about raising children. And you know what happened when I had children? My mother’s instinct proved to be very shy and didn’t tell me anything. I had to learn everything from the beginning. Of course, I spoke Polish to my children, but talking to them still felt weird. They didn’t reply, they didn’t answer, and talking like that just wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t natural at all to force myself to say, for the zillion-th time, “yes, this is a table”. Of course, it’s a stupid table! It wasn’t at all natural to me to change my way of talking so that my children can understand me. Argh! Sometimes I wanted to bang my head on the table. Luckily, now it’s getting better. Now I can finally talk to Klara more naturally. So I know it’s getting better, but I was in for a shock at the beginning.
 
 

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Welcome to Olga Mecking, a new regular contributor at International Almere, who is an expert in multilingual life in the Netherlands.

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and 3 trilingual children. In the past, Olga has lived in several countries (including Germany, Canada and the Netherlands), and learned to speak 5, that’s right, 5 languages.

She studied German philology at the University of Warsaw, then followed by a MA in Media Cultures at the University of Bremen. Olga blogs at The European Mama and we recommend you check her out on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.[/box]

 

This post originally appeared on The European Mama and has been republished with full permission.

New Life

Multilingual parenting ideas that got thrown out of the window – Part One

This happens to every parent. You wanted to breastfeed only to find that your milk didn’t come in. You wanted to co-sleep only to find that your child hates it. Or you hate it. You wanted to only give your child organic homemade food only to find that your child actually eats sweets. And so the list goes. It is just so normal and very human.

The same happens to multilingual parents. It has certainly happened to me. So here’s my confession. I didn’t achieve everything I had planned to before I had children as far as their multilingualism is concerned. Here’s a list of things I either wasn’t able to do or they didn’t happen until much later.

Reading from birth

As a certified book addict, I wanted to convey my love of books to my children. I was dead serious on reading to them from the day they were born, to turn them into as enthusiastic readers as I am. And then Klara was born. And you know what? I was busy doing other things. Like recovering from birth. Like dealing with a crying newborn and trying to figure out what she wanted. Like resting. Reading aloud to her just didn’t happen. I tried again later. Again, nothing. As it turns out, I resented it (I’ve always hated reading aloud), and Klara just wasn’t interested. Books are for playing, and not for reading, don’t you know? And mom, please shut up, I’m trying to explore my surroundings here. But we had tons of books waiting for her to be ready, and she played with baby books a lot. She also often saw me on the couch with a book in my hands. Now, she loves it when I read to her, and I enjoy it because we can both chose books that are fun for us and talk about the stories. On the other hand, Julia loved when I read for her, so I did that. She loved being held and cuddled, and reading went greatly with that. So, not all is lost!

High-quality time in Polish every day

I was so set on making every day a day full of high quality Polish language input. And then I found that having a child is actually beyond exhausting. There was crying, sleep deprivation, and my deep need for me-time. But whenever I had time or strength, I jumped on the opportunity. I talked to her. I took her with me wherever I went and explained, explained and explained. And I talked, and talked and talked some more. At the end of the day I was even more exhausted and took the next day to relax. Luckily, my husband helped a lot with the quality language input. Also I think that while multilingualism is important, there are other things that are important as well: like letting the children play by themselves. Like being silent for a while and resting. Like just holding your child. Multilingualism is not all. And I think that quality time doesn’t always mean talking. I already see that wherever I spend a lot of time with my children (talking or not), they are more likely to speak Polish.

Consistency

I was going to be so consistent! I would only speak Polish, sing Polish songs, read Polish books and never talk another language with my children. I would also make sure that everybody else behaves the same. And what happened? I still only speak Polish with my children. But some of their favourite songs are in German/English or Dutch. Some of their favourite books are in German- even though I translate them. I also sometimes have to translate something into German so that the girls can ask their father something. The girls hear me speaking English, Dutch, German and Polish on a daily basis. But I keep thinking that maybe they will see that multilingualism is cool that way.

Polish as their primary language

I really thought that Polish will become the girls’ primary language. After all, they spent a lot of time with me at home, and if only I spoke enough Polish, they’d pick it up. And after all, I am their mom, so that would automatically make my language their language? Wrong. It didn’t happen. Instead, German is becoming Klara’s favourite. Maybe it was due to my not being able to provide enough good quality Polish in input. Or maybe because Klara’s daddy’s girl. Or maybe because children just make language choices that are different from ours. Who knows? The important thing to me is that they speak it.

Saturday school in Polish and Polish playgroups

I was desperate to find another source of Polish for my children, besides myself. I even became part of a Polish-speaking mom’s group. We met once a month at one of the mom’s places, and it was good. But the children were much younger than Klara, and it was important to me that she had somebody to talk to. And, as it happened, most of the moms went back to Poland, and the group was no more. I then found a Saturday school, and for a while I was convinced that this was the way to go. But well, a Saturday school, as fun as it may seem, is just that: a school that you attend on Saturday. Also, while it is every second Saturday, the children get kicked out if they miss class more than twice. We were pretty sure that with our travelling schedule Klara would surely miss more than two classes, so we decided not to go through with this. If we wanted to, we can still do it later, but since children in the Netherlands start school early- at the age of 4- we thought that maybe we should give her a break. After all, speaking Polish should be fun, not a chore!

 

What about you?  Did you have any multilingual (or even everyday) parenting ideas that went out the window?

 

Stay tuned next week for part two!

 

[box size=”large” border=”full”]Welcome to Olga Mecking, a new regular contributor at International Almere, who is an expert in multilingual life in the Netherlands.

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and 3 trilingual children. In the past, Olga has lived in several countries (including Germany, Canada and the Netherlands), and learned to speak 5, that’s right, 5 languages.

She studied German philology at the University of Warsaw, then followed by a MA in Media Cultures at the University of Bremen. Olga blogs at The European Mama and we recommend you check her out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.[/box]

 

This post originally appeared on The European Mama and has been republished with full permission.

International School Almere, through the eyes of its students

A crucial element of the Middle Years Program curriculum at International School Almere is Community and Service.  Each student in the program undertakes a community oriented project which is aimed at providing a service to their community, to help the student to develop an understanding of their place in the world and how they can contribute to help make the world a better place.

We would like to introduce Aimee and Naomi, two MYP3 (or grade 8) students from ISAlmere who as part of their community and service project are writing a short series of informative articles for You, the International Almere community.

The first in the series is an article the two students have written together describing the school itself:

[box border=”full”]The International School Almere is a really friendly school. You will notice there are people from grade 7-12 who are friends with each other. In each grade everyone is really close to one another; it’s good to know there is always someone there for you.

At this school we have parties and we recently had a Christmas ball, one of the students was the DJ and a few other students were in charge of the lights. The student council and grade 10 decorated the halls and the drama room and helped set everything up.

There are school trips as well. The 7th graders go on an introduction camp to get to know each other more. Last year they went to Belgium and this year they went somewhere near Amsterdam. On the school trip last year, grade 7-9 went to Manchester, England and grade 10-DP 2 went to Rome.

Each year has a mentor. The mentors are there to help students and guide them through their education. Every week there is a mentor class where the students meet up with their mentor and talk about their issues.

Morning assembly is on Thursday. The students should be at school at 8:30 to attend morning assembly. During morning assembly we talk about issues involving the school, community and service, upcoming school activities and other things that the teachers have to notify us about.

At International School Almere, they require the students to do community and service and finish it by the end of the year. Community and service is about helping others in the community and not getting paid for your work. There are different amount of hours and requirements for each grade. [/box]

 

If you would like to know more about ISAlmere, please check out their website here.

Coming soon, Aimee and Naomi will tell us what it’s like to be an international teenager in Flevoland, which we can’t wait to share with you..

Getting to Know Us: Becky Riddle

Becky in Almere Buiten, July 2012

Welcome to our new Getting to Know Us series where we meet our members and learn a bit more about one another.

Kicking it off is International Almere’s first ever Life Member, Becky Riddle.

Becky first moved to Almere from England six years ago when an opportunity arose  with her husband’s work.  Since she arrived she has been involved with – and a huge influence on – the local expat community here in Almere.  So much so that when the opportunity arose to honour the extraordinary contribution of a member of our little community, Becky was the obvious choice.  Becky has been instrumental in shaping International Almere into what it has become today and has also taken the ABCDE Playgroup from strength to strength.

Becky has since taken a step back from her responsibilities to the international community here and is now busy focusing on new, more personal projects, of which we cannot wait to hear more about.

 

Now, more about Becky…

 

Where were you born?

Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (year: undisclosed!)

Where have you lived?

Various places in the UK and Holland

Where can we find you online?

Sophie Snail Adventures (a blog of children’s stories – my new hobby so not much there at the moment!) Check it out here: Sophie Snail Adventures

What brought you to Almere?

I followed my husband

Almere is an interesting and unique city to live in, describe your favourite part of living here.

All of it! The people, the architecture, the ease of access to so many diverse things to do and see. It is a rich city in lots ways.

Becky and her husband Neil
How have you best been made to feel at home since you arrived?

Through the people I have met.

Where is your favourite place to go out or eat out in the city?

Oooh, lots…which shall I pick? With my family I love to go to the Kemphaan – get back in touch with nature, have a snack and you can enjoy a different experience every time you go. With my husband I like to go out to eat, socialise with friends and going to the cinema. I like ‘de Brasserij de Bergerrie’ for food.

Would you define yourself as an expat, an international, or something entirely different?

I would define myself as me, where-ever I may be.

How long do you plan on living here for?

The foreseeable future. We have no plans to move.

Tell us how you found International Almere?

I have been aware of International Almere since they were a little acorn.

What advice would you offer to others who are thinking of taking the plunge and moving to Almere?

Get in touch with International Almere and start meeting people! Other people are the key to settling in here…someone somewhere will have an answer to most of the questions and challenges you face and it’s always good to have people to share your experiences with. Makes the move much easier than it could otherwise be.

What has been your biggest challenge since arriving in Almere?

Mmmmm, being a parent and having to re-educate myself in the way the various systems/people here work compared to what I have been used to (and in turn educating the Dutch in my ways!).

If you had to leave tomorrow and could take only one thing – anything – from Almere, what would it be?

My family.

What is your favourite Dutch tradition, and how do you celebrate? Do you still celebrate holidays and traditions from your home country?

I love Sint Maarten. I love to help the children be creative making lanterns, watch them sing around the neighbourhood, then their excitement when they get a treat  (I also rather enjoy several traditional Dutch treats myself such as oliebollen and stroopwafel – lekker!) We still celebrate Easter and Christmas and if I can find the right cut of meat I’m fond of a traditional English Roast Dinner followed by Apple Crumble!

Becky’s daughters celebrating Sint Maarten

[box style=”rounded”]Would you like to take part in the Getting to Know Us series? We would love to hear from you!

Drop us a line by filling out the form below and we will be in touch with all the details:

 

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