Easy steps to help your child to enjoy learning.

As a mum of two young children in London, I often wonder if all this money spent on numerous music, tennis, swimming lessons are really worth it.

Both my husband and I agree that our children are very unlikely to become professional musicians or tennis players. Not only that, our children tend to change their mind after one term about what they like and we keep jumping from Karate to Fencing, from Fencing to Yoga and so on.

So – are all those classes a waste? That is the question I can’t answer before my children are grown ups.

However, I can make sure that they enjoy the learning journey, stay interested and get some tangible skills out of it.

So how to make all those after school activities more engaging and beneficial?

Your child has to take moments of pride along the journey of learning and that will keep your child on the journey (I first read about this idea in “The Power of Moments” by Dan and Chip Heath).

How one can achieve it? Try to structure any learning as a video game: you move from one level to a slightly harder level, but every level is fun (the idea is explained in details in "Level Up Your Life" by Steve Kamb).

You may think that it is easier said than done, but here some examples of what I am planning to do with my children.

French (my daughter):

Level 1: greet somebody in French and ask how they are?

Level 2: order breakfast in French in a cafe with a proper pronunciation;

Level 3: have a simple conversation with a French child (how old are you? What is your name? etc.);

Level 4: flip through a French magazine for kids and get most of the headlines;

Level 5: read a simple children book in French;

Level 6: watch a French cartoon without English subtitles and understand most of it.

 

Music (my son completed his Grade 5 and now he is choosing what he wants to do to keep his interest in music):

Level 1: learn three pieces he always wanted to know how to play (one pop, one classic and one from a movie);

Level 2: play a duet with his sister for Christmas for the whole family;

Level 3: write and record his own song (now there are plenty of apps to do it at home)

Level 4: have a gig with his band (may take a while but it will be an ultimate fun thing to do).

Each level is fun and satisfying on its own merit. So even, if my children give up half way through, they have learnt something and it was fun.

The same steps can be done for any activity (sport, art, dancing, etc.). I love reading “The Process” by Nick Saban, a great football coach who talks how to take macro skills and divide them into micro skills and practice them over and over.

There are two important steps to make sure this approach works. Firstly, I discussed these targets with the children to make sure they want to achieve those level as they think they are fun.

Secondly, your child should write those down and stick at a visible place. There is an extended research that shows that children accept inner responsibility for a behaviour if they think they have chosen to do it without outside pressure (see "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini).

I also going to try this approach for myself. Over the last year, I struggled and gave up learning Japanese language. Now I am committed to follow particular levels and let’s see if it works. Keep me posted what skills you and your children are learning and what are the levels you are planning to conquer.

See our latest newsletter here.

9 Habits of Learning for Your Child

You may be surprised by my choice for this week’s blog considering we are off for the summer holidays, but I think summer is the best time to teach your children as a parent.

Not only children are rested and more perceptive but I also spend more time with as we are all on holidays.

I am not talking about teaching your children maths or English over the summer but using the break to teach them the skills of learning through playing and fun activities.

I got inspired by my son’s school that talks about 9 Habits of Learning: resilience, reflection, creativity, curiosity, independence, participation, precision, organisation, and risk taking. 

The Hall School Learning Habits

I am sure you have your own ideas how to boost each of those skills but if you would like a bit of inspiration, here are my projects.

Resilience: I am trying to come out with a project that it is slightly above my child’s ability. My daughter come to 3 House Club for the ballet class on Saturday and Ms Alex put a challenge to the girls to learn doing the split.  My son wants to write a code for a full game that can be played by other children. Younger kids can put a summer challenge to learn how to do their laces, make a rainbow flick with a football etc. For myself, I promised to run two mornings per week.

Reflection: it is a skill that I am not very good at as I always find myself rushing though a day without pausing and reflecting. My husband has started using Headspace app with the kids to introduce meditation which is a great way to pause and reflect. I do it in a more simple day but before going to sleep we all have a chat together about the day that pass to see what went well, what did not and what we can do better tomorrow. It takes only 10 min but it is amazing how helpful it is for myself to have this talk about my day with the children.  

Creativity: as my children are 7 and 10 yrs old, they want to make a stop motion cartoon over the summer but we will also still enjoy simple things like plasticine, building sand castles and making art.  

Curiosity: I am trying to pick up an area that kids are interested in and investigate it more.  My daughter loves art, that is why I prepare quests when we go to the museum to find out interesting things about the collections (see my blogs about the Louvre and Uffizi Gallery) to nourish her curiosity about the art. As my boys prefers outdoor activities, we will try to get more curios about sea life and record all species we meet on the beach and find interested facts about those (fish, molluscs, plants) by keeping a special summer journal.

Independence: I found that involving children into house chores is the best way to develop their independence. For the little kids, putting their own shoes or tidying up the toys, while my two children will be making the bed and clearing the table after the meals as a new challenge for the summer (shame on me as a parent that they are still not doing it, but here I said it in the open).

Participation: I just make sure children have opportunities to play with other children they meet on the beech/playgrounds/etc so they learn to navigate relationship with other kids.

Precision: Hama Beads is a great way to learn concentration, or embroidery if your children are old enough.  Younger children can do lacing (e.g. Creation Station Transport Lacing Shapes).

Organisation: my favourite one is for my children to plan and make one meal per week (the idea came from y Greek friend). My children choose a recipe, write the shopping list, come with me shopping, cooking and setting up the table. Little kids can set the table for the family meal as a start.

Risk taking: putting yourself into uncomfortable situation does stretch one selves’ abilities.  For my girl, it is speaking to the adults she does not know (she will try to buy ice-creams herself during the summer). My son put himself a challenge to dive head first into the pool from a high trampling.

So developing 9 habits of learning these summer seems quite fun for all three of us.

I would love to hear back from you what do you think about those learning skills and how you boost them with your children.

See also a link here to our latest newsletter with updated September schedule of classes at 3 House Club as well as special discount for flexible class pass. 

Beauty and inspiration of Frida Kahlo

I decided to have the last enriching outing with my children before submersing into the lazy life of an Italian sea-side for the summer.

London has a particular beautiful offer now at V&A which is Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. The exhibition shows a beautiful collection of photographs and paintings of Frida Kahlo as well as her personal belongings and clothing which was locked away for over 50 years.

Frida is am amazing artists to learn for the children because she is a great example of resilience (talking about growth mindset) and creativity. Her life and work is so colourful and full of imagination so children will find it fascinating.

I would suggest to read a book about Frida together with the children before your visit. My personal favourites are (in the order of preferences):

1) V&A introduces Frida Kahlo - the book is available in the museum or on the V&A site and it is an easy and a fun read with children. The bookt covers both artist's life and her art.

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2) Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself (Smart about the Arts) by Margaret Frith. I like this book as it is presented by a child as a school project so it is easy for the children to relate. 

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3) Frida (Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature) by Jonah Winter . This book is a simpler version for younger children and is beautifully illustrated.  

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With my children during the V&A visit, I am focusing mainly on three areas:

1) Resilience:  Frida being physically in pain (after polio and a bus crash) found the strength to create a beautiful art to express her emotions. Look together through Frida's self-portrtaits and see what she was drawing and talk to the children why.

2) Frida's relation with Mexican culture thought her clothes and jewellery (e.g. jade stones used in Mayan rituals) - girls especially can choose their favourite dresses on the display to draw some of them in the notebook.  

3) Frida's controversy: how she portraits female's beauty, her political and religious views (depending on your children age). 

Some logistical tips: The tickets are sold out for the next three weeks but 100 of them are released every morning at 10:00 at the museum. If it does not work, you can plan you visit later as the exhibition is till November 4. There is also a different solution, if you become a V&A member (£70), you do not need a ticket for the exhibition, children can come with you for free and you get 10% discount on any purchase at the museum.

Fridays, V&A is open till 10 pm and the restaurant has live piano in the evening and garden space has a puddling fountain (that kids are happy to splash in). It can be a nice summer outing for grown ups as well as the kids.

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Please see out Instagram account if you would like to win a copy of one of the books.

Last minute ideas for Fathers' Day present

We are always a bit last minute in our family for any celebrations. Here what I found for fathers' day present:

Present 1: Selfridges offers today and tomorrow a free engraving of any Moleskine's diary you buy at the stationary department on the ground floor. - an elegant and useful present. Just think of a nice quote and it is all you need.

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Present 2: If you are more into experiences, this week-end it is a Taste of London Festival in Regents Park. Get a ticket as a present and enjoy a Sunday out tasting amazing food.

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Let me know how you celebrated the Fathers' Day.

One day in Paris with children

Going to Paris with kids is not only a great opportunity to practise their French and taste fantastic food, but it is also an amazing way to lean history and art.

To keep it fun but education for my 7 years old who joined me in Paris this week, I have done some reading with her before the trip and kept museums short, but focused and fun.

Here are some ideas I used:

1)    As Napoleon will come up throughout your visit to Paris and most young children do not learn about him at school yet, I found it useful to read about him a bit together before the journey.

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2)    On the way to Paris in Eurostar, we read together and played games from the book Paris for Kids: it is a great way to familiarise your little one about main landmarks in the city;

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3)  I only could choose one museum so we went to see the Louvre. I used Family Twist company who organised a private Quest for Sasha with an amazing guide Claude who turned the museum’s visit into two hour code breaking adventure going through French, Egyptian, Greek and Italian art and history in a way that fascinated both of us.  It was really the best part of our visit. 

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We finished the trip on a boat trip on Seine and practising our French in local restaurants.

We can not wait for our next adventure!

OPEN GARDEN SQUARE WEEKEND, June 9-10

I can not wait to take my kids this weekend to explore beautiful hidden jewels of London. Over 200 green spaces – many usually closed to the public – will open their gates for public this weekend, June 9-10.

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There is so much on offer that it is better to have a look at the official guide (here)

My personal favourites this year are wildlife tours at the Centre for Wildlife Gardening, historical tours at Fulham Palace, landscape tours at Strawberry Hill House and Melissa Garden Bee Sanctuary that offers tours about bees and their behaviour.

If you would like hands on experience try The Compound, Stave Hill Ecological Park to help create a wildflower meadow or dig out a marsh.

If you have a baby, and you would like to enjoy something special while she/he naps in a buggy, you can join Walworth Garden for workshops on gardening, herbal medicine and natural perfumery.

If you are planning to see a near-by garden, which does not have an organised workshop, you can prepare a fun activity for your children to make it more interactive and fun. I will be doing some flash cards to have a quest to spot certain plants – a little competition between brother and sister always helps to engage.

I love Plantopedia: Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth about plants and we will have a look through this book before our quest and use it to prepare the quest.

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I hope you find your absolute favourite garden – just have a look at the official site and today is a deadline for early bird tickets for adults (kids come for free).

Source: https://opengardensquares.eventcube.io/eve...

Are you preparing your child for the future or focus on today results?

Do you bring up your child to care about today grade or tomorrow life?

There is this famous estimate that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't yet been invented (see research here). With the life getting more uncertain for our children in terms of future challenges and opportunities, the best skill we and the school can give them is the skill to deal with unknown future and be flexible to learn.

That is why “The Growth Mindset” is now a buzz word among top London schools. I can see benefits of the approach with my 7 years old daughter.  If my 9 years old son teases and asks her, if she can do divisions as fast as him, she will answer, “I cannot do it…yet” and she does not get upset when she fails (most of the time).  So what is the Growth Mindset about and what we can do at home as parents to support it?

The concept was originated by Dr Carol Dweck, which you can read about in her book Mindset - Updated Edition: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential or brows the site www.mindsetworks.com/science.

My personal two favourite videos that explains the concept are below.

TED talk with Dr Dweck to watch for the parents

Below is a video to watch with your (7+) children:

To summarise, the starting point for the parents is to praise your child wisely.

One should not praise intelligence/talent or focus on a result. According to the research, praising the effort the child is engaged in leads to the child applying even more effort, more strategies and more engagement over period of time. That leads to more perseverance when she/he meets a difficulty, which also gives the child more confidence.

My favourite book for kids to get some practice with developing a growth mindset is Big Life Journal (my friend Helen’s discovery).  It is a hands-on book that explains the concept, has inspirational stories and allows kids to keep their own journal. The company behind the book has a great Facebook page and suggests a lot of activities. The book is only shipped from the US but it is worth the wait.

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There is also a book Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It which explains how the brain functions and why we can grow and learn over time.

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Let me know what you think and do share any tips how you help your children to build the growth mindset.

Regards,

Anya

PS Later this month, we plan to host speakers talking about parenting for 21st century. Emails us if you would like to know more at info@3HouseClub.com

Books to inspire stronger boys

I am super happy to buy all those inspiring books for girls from Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls to read with my 7 years old daughter.

However, I felt that my 9 years old boy also needs support and inspiration as I can not assume he is going to do great things just because he is a boy.

So after spending a bit of time of reseach, here are my top four choices:

1) Stories for boys who dare to be different - inspirational stories about the men who have done something amazing in a range of fields.

2) Way of the Warrior Kid - the book is written by a former US Navy Seal. I may not agree with everything, but I still found the book engaging for my boy to get an understanding what it means to be a warrior with discipline and dedication.

3) You Are Awesome: Find Your Confidence and Dare to be Brilliant at (Almost) Anything - a concept of not being afraid to take risks and not to be scared of the failurs as it is a necessary part of getting to success. 

4) Politics for Beginners - one may be surprise by this suggestions, but both my daughter and son found this book very inspiring as they teach about voicing your opinions, debating and standing for what one believes. 

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Let me know if there are other books you found for your boys that you would like to share.

Rejecting middle age - a guest blog from 33 shake, natural endurance nutrition (www.33shake.com)

Rejecting middle age: hit peak fitness at any age with the right mindset

Middle age comes with a bundle of seriously crappy stereotypes. We're supposed to become slower, fatter, creakier, sicker, more easily injured, less easily repaired, and worse, we're expected to do it all while listening to Radio Four and wearing comfortable slacks. Well scr*w that, because as far as we're concerned, that's not middle age, it's a slow death. Instead we're absolutely rejecting middle age, and laying out how you can do exactly the same.

So if you're the sort of person who wants to keep scaling new physical and mental peaks for the next 30 years and far beyond let's get to it. We've got some serious living to do. 

1 Language: what you say matters, big time

Over 30 with a sore back, knee, calf, etc? Before you know it a mate asks you about the injury in question and you quip back "ha, I must just be getting old"or something similar. 

You think you're joking, but unfortunately this joke's on you because your brain will start believing what you say. Once you start attributing your injuries and ailments to age, the slippery slope begins. 

 

Examine your injuries, they aren't caused by age. They're caused by under-use

After all, if age is the cause and getting older is unavoidable then your injury or ailment is also unavoidable. Hence you might as well not bother putting all that hard work to fix it and get back to your former performance level or above, because that too is impossible. 

Before you know it you're eyeing ads for walk-in baths, comfort slippers and ballroom dance evenings.

Whenever you catch yourself putting any injury down to old age, delete the thought and put it down to the real cause which is...

2 Too much sitting, not enough moving

Over the age of 30 is where the modern evils of too much sitting down, too many laptops, tablets and smartphones, and not enough good old-fashioned movement and exertion start kicking in. 

We're not about to say you should burn all of your chairs and install treadmill desks in your office (although that would be cool) because we realise that's not practical for most people. The point is, the less you use your body, the less it will work and the more likely it will then be to misfire when asked to perform. 

Use those joints, bust a move, and stick one in the eye for everyone who says older means slower

Runners, cyclists and triathletes can be among the worst hit here as full-on jobs can keep us as sedentary as anyone else, while our training demands push hard on joints, tendons, muscles and ranges of motion that haven't been well used in a long time. 

At the same time, the very muscles which take up the slack under pressure around these key areas are unfortunately also the very same muscles most weakened by sitting. 

The result? A high injury rate (yearly injury rates among runners for example are between 37 and 56%) with many injuries too readily blamed on age. 

Instead, these injuries are in fact a time-traveling window into the future.

3 You what? Injuries showing us the future - have you totally lost the plot?

Absolutely not, and nor have we taken up with hokey UK newspaper stargazer Mystic Meg because here's the thing: the injury that stops you cycling, running or swimming hard today, if left untreated, is the same injury that will stop you walking to the shops in 25 years time. 

Take a common running injury for example like Achilles tendonitis

Hurts like heck when you run, but rest it for a bit and there's no pain at all when you're walking. If you hadn't run, you'd never even know there was a problem. 

Which is why your doctor will advise you to stop running in a case like this. 

Unfortunately, your doctor is a moron. 

Because if you don't fix that Achilles after your running's helpful early warning and instead reduce or stop training, then the same things that caused it to flare up while running (lower back tightness, excess quad dominance when running, weak hamstrings and glutes, tight hip flexors) won't get fixed either. 

And eventually, they'll start causing problems when you walk. 

At which point your doctor will recommend a walking frame, allowing the weakened and overtight muscle chain causing the problem to get still weaker and tighter. 

Like we said, your doctor's a moron. 

Take the early warning signs your training injuries uncover, work those injuries back to full health with honest graft and stick a bullseye on your next PB (PR). 

4 Where's your finish line?

In any race you've entered, there's always a finish line and the clever thing about finish lines is they give you a clear target to aim for. 

Whether it's an Olympic triathlon, a 200-mile single-stage ultramarathon (yes, these are actually a thing), a 50-mile Sportive or a mountain summit, you know where your finish line is. 

And the weird thing about known finish lines is they also affect your energy and strength. 

Run a 50-miler and you won't even think about feeling tired until 30 miles or more. Yet even with the same fitness levels, if you go and run a five-miler we can bet you'll be feeling a bit tired at just four miles all because you're nearing the finish.

The same happens with the way we think about age, and our approach here can change everything. 

Currently, average life expectancy in the UK is 79 for men and 83 for women. Which makes it deceptively easy to think of popping your clogs around about 80 as pretty bloody normal. 

Follow that train of thought and at 40 you're halfway (and onto the downward slope), at 50 you're beyond middle age, and at 60, heck better start measuring up that coffin! 

But 80's only an average finish line. In other statistics news, the number of people living over 100 is soaring

So continuing with our earlier finish line analogy here, if we assume 100 is our end game, not 80, suddenly 40 is positively youthful, 50 is only just halfway to the end while 60 is still happily middle-aged. 

Where you put your finish line makes all the difference. 

Personally at 33Shake we're all putting our finish lines at 120, taking inspiration from the legendary Japanese doctor Shigeaki Hinohara who, at 104 in 2016 set himself a target of being at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, spectating, not competing in case you were wondering - even positive thinking has its limits. 

He died at 105 before getting there, proving these goals are only that (after all, in life as in in races DNFs are inevitable), but without keeping his strong future goals you can bet he'd not have had the vigorous life he did. 

 

"And next week I'm running across Paraguay to celebrate turning 137" If you want to reject middle age, choose your finish line and make it ambitious, don't let averages drag you down

5 Conclusion

Parting words here go to the most excellent Charles Eugster, octogenarian bodybuilder and 90-year old sprint champion who memorably said "You can rebuild your body at any age, you can learn something new at any age, you can start a new life at any age"

Age and particularly performance, are all in the mind and there for the taking as long as we are alive and moving.

Where will you set your goalposts?

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Source: https://www.33shake.com/news/rejecting-mid...

A day in Florence with children

Before returning from Easter break from Italy, I took my 7 years old for a day in Florence. What a treat for both of us.  It is a place one can spend there a week exploring but even a brief visit can be fascinating if you plan it properly. So, in case you are planning a visit any time soon with your kids, here are some tips to make you journey both fun and educational.

View from Uffizi

I love the city and I really wanted to explain to my daughter what Renaissance is about and how it started and also introduce her to an incredible range of people who worked and lived in Florence and changed our lives forever.

I suggest to start with Palazzo Vecchio (old palace) and Piazza della Signoria (square on the nobility) as it is an open-air museum on its own and give the feel how beautiful the city is. The piazza has a copy of one of the most beautiful statues, carved by Michelangelo – David (the original is displayed in the museum).

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To make kids enjoy Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria more, here are some games:

1)      The tower on top of Palazzo Vecchio (Torre di Arnolfo) is the tallest tower in city and there is a real prison cell inside it. Near the main entrance to the palazzo, there is a face carved in the wall on the right. Can you spot it? The legend goes that Michelangelo carved this face without watching.

2)      Walk around the statue of David and look carefully at the back of his head. What can you see? Some say there is a hidden face that is an image of the artist who carved it.

3)      Florence sounds a bit like a flower. That is why Lily was chosen as a symbol of the city. Can you spot a lion with the shield that has the symbol of the city?

Next stop is Palazzo degli Uffizi which is next to the Piazza della Signoria and is my favourite art museum in the world. The key is to buy tickets online to avoid the queue.  A little thing to check out before you enter is to find a statue with a lizard at the bottom as it is of Amerigo Vespucci, an explorer from Florence who gave name to a new continent America.

As the gallery is enormous, I focused only on the key artists and painting not to overwhelm children.  Here are my favourites that I had a little story to tell to my daughter to make it more fun:

1)      We started with Medieval art (Sala or Room 1 ) to explain to my girl what the typical art of that period was. Flat images, focus on symbolism rather then realism (background of gold rather than true landscape, no perspective) and themes are all religious. We could play a game and tell is the painting is Medieval or Renaissance.

2)   When you move on, you start notice the new trends, such as paintings are a bit more 3D, gradually backround and proportion are getting closer to realistic and perspective is used more and more. Giotto’s Madonna in Sala 2 is a good example.

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3)      Botticelli’s Birth of Venue and The Springs are two of our favourites. The Spring has a nice story to tell as the god of wind (Zephyrus) is kidnaping Spring (who spits flowers from her mouth and trying to hold on to Flora in a beautiful dress), Mercury is using his sword to stop the clouds as the spring is coming, Graces and dancing and Venus stands further away (while the face is the same as Venue from The Birth of Venus).

Spring by Botticello

4)      We had a look at Michelangelo and Rafael (you can pick your favourites), and Caravaggio. You can play a little game with kids looking Bacchus and find an artists self-portrait in the wine surface of the carafe).

5) Da Vinci room is the one worth a special stop. There is also a movie display about the restaration of Adoration of Maggi to reveal the amount of work put to preserve the art;

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Don’t miss the bookstore before leaving the museum. A lot of children books are in English and our picks were: Florence for Kids, a city guide with Pimpa (we used a lot of tips to explore the city), a version of Dante's Divine Comedy suitable for children, Who was Leonardo da Vinci (simple but comprehensive story of Leonardo life which gives interesting details of the life during the Renesance).

Books to buy

After a long walk in the museum, we needed a nice break for the ice-creams. Locals recommended Perche No which is a short walk from the museum and we just loved it. lavanda, mint, crème brule as well as all usual gelato’s flavours were o incredible quality.

The next stop (which is a walking distance) is Duomo or the cathedral of Santa Maria el Fiore made out of white, pink and green marble is one of my favourite in Italy.

The gigantic Cupola Rossa (red dome) on top of it was the first dome to be build of this shape and it was in inspiration to various famous landmark. Many years ago the golden ball on top of the dome was struck by a lightening and it fell off. Can you find a white circle on the ground behind cathedral that marks the spot where the huge ball fell.

If you check the Battistero (the baptistery) just opposite the Dome’s entrance, it has Porta del Paradiso which some argue has started Renaissance with its panels with 3D statues and perspective.

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For a meal, we went to Food Market (Mercato Central) as it is a great choice of food and easy with the kids. My favourite is truffle counter (for parents) and Chianina burgers (for kids). Chianina is a beef from the local region.

Food Market in Florence

As we have been at the city only one day, we missed some fun places like Ponte Vechhio (with a bronze boar that everybody touches his snout for good luck) or countless beautiful gardens. But we can not wait to go back next year again and explore more.

We have not stayed overnight, but local friends say that Gallary Hotel Art and Portrait Firenze hotels have terraces with amazing view on the whole city.

Let us know if you go to Florence with kids and have more fun activities to share.

Charles I's art collection: how to see it with your kids

Royal Academy of Art runs an amazing exhibition until April 15 of Charles I’s art collection.  Firstly, the exhibition is incredible because the beautiful pieces of art (Italian and Northern Renaissance, Venetians and of cause works of Anthony van Dyke) have been seen together last time during the year the King was executed. But also, the exhibition offers a great opportunity to review such an important period of British history when the country went through the Civil War, had the parliament dismissed and later got its own King executed.

Being not English, I knew little about the period but as I love art I decided to learn more and try to teach my 7 and 9 year old.  I knew to make the trip fun I have to do a bit of homework.

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First, I watched a great documentary Charles I’s Treasures Reunited on BBC iPlayer that talks about the art on display as well as the history behind. I love it myself and it gave few stories to tell the kids when I take them around he exhibition to make it fun.

Then, I put together a little quiz for them to fill in during the exhibition (download here). To boost an incentive, every point was 20p worth so if they get all right answers, they have some money to spend in the museum shop afterwards.

The questions look hard but they kids loved it. They learned new words, remembered all the answers and were very happy to educated their daddy during the dinner.

I hope you will get a chance to go and see the exhibition during the next two weeks with your little ones before it closes and let me know about your experience.

£10 gift voucher to spend at 3 House Club kids friendly cafe

For the next week we would like to ask all the parents and nannies to take the cutest photo of your little one during a class at 3 House Club and post either on Facebook or Instagram, checking in or tagging 3 House Club.

If you photo gets the most likes, you will get £10 gift card to spend at our 3 House Club cafe.

The winner will be announced on March 30. 

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Good luck and have fun!

Local family friendly events for the next few weeks.

As the weather is getting better and a school break is coming up, here are some local things you may enjoy doing with your kids as well as few suggestions if you want to travel:

Spring Festival for Persian New Year - Norouz Bazaar in St John's Wood

March 10-11, Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 to 17:00

It’s the countdown to a colourful 28th annual a charity Norouz Bazaar at Danubius Hotel, opposite Lord’s Cricket Ground, St Johns Wood. A great place to join on #MothersDay to savour the flavour of world’s most famous Spring Festival! #PersianNewYear 

Family friendly free event in St Jhon's Wood

Easter Fayre, St. John's Wood.

March 17-18, Saturday and Sunday, 11:00-18:00

Come and join St. John's Hospice at the annual Easter Fayre  at St John’s Wood Church Gardens, Wellington Road (entrance), NW8 7PF.

Children can enjoy new and classic fairground rides, take donkey rides in the park and join in with our great big Easter Egg Hunt! There will be various stalls, including food.

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a bit further away from St John's Wood...

 

Family Day: Chamber Challenge

March 24, Saturday, 10:30-15:30 at Wigmore Hall

Interactive workshop day for families with children aged 5 plus with Diphonon Duo (viola and accordion), on a marvellous music-making adventure.

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My First Ballet: Swan Lake at Peacock Theatre

29 March - 7 April at Peacock Theatre.

Family friendly - age guidance is 3+ . All ages will be admitted and children 2 years old and above will need a ticket. Family ticket: 4 tickets for £65, available on tickets that are usually £20 each. Family ticket must include at least 2 children.

Ballet for children

and event further away...

Visit Roald Dahl Musium as a different day out with your children...

The Roald Dahl Museum is a great little family Museum, situated in Great Missenden, the Buckinghamshire village where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years.

The Museum, aimed at 6 to 12 year olds, features three hands-on galleries and is home to the Roald Dahl archive. Plan to join museum's story-telling or activities to enjoy the visit more.

Enjoy the spring!

Tips on how to organise your wardrobe

As the spring is coming up, we all feel inspired to clear out clutter at our home and organise our wardrobes. I have done it with the Autumn/Winter clothes and now I am getting ready for Spring/Summer.

Here are some tips I am happy to share and I hope you found them useful:

1) Don't try to tackle everything in one go. Focus on one season at a time;

2) Take everything out for the season and sort into four piles: keep/keep but need to fix/give away/not sure. I found I needed two things: a mirror that showed my back (or a friend who can take photos from your back), and a professional eye to see objectively what fits well for my figure today and is not completely outdated. It can be a personal stylist (the best £60-100 you spend for your wardrobe) or a reliable friend.

3) Do not be tempted to put many things in "not sure" pile and if you do - give yourself a deadline (if you do not wear it once over the next month, you give it away). Apart of what you keep,  piles go into three large boxes you commit to deal with over a fixed period of time. How to know what to get rid off - if you have not worn it last year season, you are not likely to wear it this year.

3) Before putting back into the wardrobe what you decided to keep: (a) make a list of combination of clothes to wear together (one bottom piece should have at least three different tops to combine with), (b) make sure everything is visible and easy to reach (you will not remember the clothes you do not see).

4) Decide on 3-4 items you can add to your wardrobe this season to refresh the look. Research online before you go shopping to avoid compulsive buying. What you buy should be easy to combine with what you have and you should have couple of options for each piece.

I am not good to follow the fashion trends to know what are the staple items for Spring/Summer,  but that is why I will be joining Natasha Vinnikova to listen to her take on Spring/Summer trends after the London fashion week on colours, patterns and fabric.

I hope to see many of you on March 16 at 11:30.

Personal Stylist
Source: https://www.instagram.com/n.v.stylist/

Seven tips for your child's perfect birthday party

Here is a simple checklist to make sure everything goes well for your son/daughter's birthday party:

1. List of invited guests. I always find it useful to run a list of invited kids to track replies, goodie bags, etc. Make it clear in your invitation, if siblings are welcome or you prefer to limit the number of guests (if your party’s venue has constraints, guests would understand as soon as you put it politely). I always ask in the invitation to confirm if a guest is coming with a little brother or sister so I have plenty of goodie bags and don’t have to run last minute to find a spare chair. So your option is either to use

  • Excel - free but not automated

  • Paperless Post - very easy to use but not a free service

  • Kindergifts - a new free online party invitation service, which allows you not only to invite guests but also (a) invite guests to contribute towards one meaningful gift your child chooses; and (b) support a charity of your family's choice.

2. Theme for the party & decorations:  Your child probably will tell you exactly what s/he would love the party to be about.  However, in case you need some inspiration, have a look at the parties we run at the club over the last few years, here. We have much more inspiration on our Facebook page too. 

Trolls' Birthday Party at 3 House Club

Check list for what to order as a party decoration:

  • foil balloons (number for age and a character) and balloon weights;

  • latex balloons and ribbons to match,

  • plates (main and cake), spoons (cake) & forks (if hot food), cups, napkins, straws;

  • table confetti and table cover;

  • scene setters, cut-outs, banners (you can do personalised);

  • garlands and hanging decorations;

  • helium.

3. Entertainment: there is a wide range available in London, but here are more general suggestions by age:

  • 1-2 yrs old: you easily can keep your guests happy with some toys, music and some soft play. If you want to hire some entertainment, I found that for this age live music with rhymes or a puppet show is a good option;

  • 3-4 yrs old:  music and rhymes still work well with some simple games and story improvisation; you can also try live farm animals show or art/craft activities;

  • 5-6 yrs old: games, magician, live animals (predators or farm), sport activities, cooking or cupcake decoration, cinema, t-shirt print making, science party;

  • 7-9 yrs old:  as above plus make up & dressing up with fashion show, military/spy operation/training, guided tours to stadiums, museums (with some activities afterwards), bus party, laser tags, go karting race.

Extra touch: bouncy castle, facepainter, balloon makers, photographer, mascot visits for special guests (i.e. Peppa Pig).

4. Food for kids and adults: We always suggest to go for simple food kids love. Pizza or pasta, some fruit and vegetable, apple juice and water are easy and always work.  I always believe it is nice touch to offer some food and drinks for adults. We usually go for some tea/coffees with pastries for a morning party, prosecco/wine/beer with some finger food for the afternoon. 

5. Cake: The main choice usually is among 3D cake, a flat cake (you can have an edible photo) or cupcakes. Good bakeries can make you a cake from a photo you find on the internet for your theme.  We are using few places if you need an advice – let us know (info@3HouseClub.com).

6. Goodie bags. We always go for a nice book (on the party theme), a small toy and one sweet for older children.  Lollies or Haribo will do or you can do for a nicer treats thematic based (e.g. check Waitrose or M&S for Frozen or Peppa chocolate lollies).

7. Venue: The venue choice depends on your entertainment, number of guests,  parking, public transport access as well as if you want all to be organised for you or your prefer to do it yourself.

We will be happy for your to give us a call if you have any questions and there are more FAQ about our parties here.   

We love parties and we always try our best for the parents and children to have the most stress-free and fun memorable experience at 3 House Club. It is a party afterall!

Online Safety Tips: few things you may find useful

Here some useful tips how to keep your child safe online:

Toddlers and Pre-School

The main risk for this age is for toddler come across some inappropriate images while watching a cartoon on YouTube. So the first step is to set up a safety mode on your YouTube page (see a guiding video here). You can also choose YouTube Kids as a safer platform to watch videos and Swiggle and Kids-Search as an alternative for Google when your little one starts searching online. If you are letting your kids to use Google search, you can exclude inappropriate search results by setting the Safe Search Lock (see video how to do it here).

School children

1) Educate your child: I believe this is the most important step as you can not control all devices you child would be able to access (think about playdates). A great source for you as a parent to read what to discuss with your child is Think You Know . The site gives advice for parents and children from 5 to 14+.

2) Know what your child is doing on the internet including games, apps and websites. The risk to consider if the app/game/site is age appropriate, can kids chat online with strangers while playing the game, can app allow anonymous chats, can messages self-destroy, can a child GEO locations be tracked. I would suggest Family Sharing setting for your devices, so what your child downloads on his/her iPad comes to your phone and you can see and just talk with your child that any new games, sites usage should be agreed with you.  As sometimes kids know apps that we do not, you can educate yourself about the games and apps here.

3) Set the rules: it is important to set clear boundaries and rules for your child online behaviour. Such as what information not to disclose, what sites and apps are not allowed, what pictures not to share. If you have a real rebellion and you want more control over your child online behavior, there are some apps that help you to limit Internet usage of your children such Our Pack or Screen Limit. There is also an app ReplyASAP to block a mobile phone of your child (or maybe a husband) until she/he responds to your message.

4) If you do not have a trustful relationship with your child, you may educate yourself on secret folders that older children may download to hide files that they do not want you to see. Some examples are below:

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If something is bothering you or your child, make a screenshot of any message (as they can be self-destroyed in some case) and there is a website Child Exploitation and Online Protection command where you can report your concerns.

We hope you find it useful, and do let us know if there other useful tools you can suggest to the parents or if you have any questions.

List of inspiring movies to watch with your children (above 7 yrs old)

If you are planning some time off the next week and chill-out with your kids, here is a list of (mainly sport inspired) movies based on true stories you can watch together:

1) Cool Runnings (especially with the Winder Olympics around the corner);
2) Miracle;
3) Invincible;
4) Glory Road;
5) The Rookie;
6) Remember the titans;
7) The greatest game ever played;
8) Secretariat; and my personal favourite

9) Queen of Katwe.

In case you have younger kids and you need a bit of help to look after them, do remember we have a creche service next week either from 9:30 to 1:30 pm or 1:30pm till 5:30pm. See details here

Chance to win two tickets for Tchaikovsky & Marvellous Kingdom show

Would you like to win 2 tickets for to enjoy a classical music show with your baby or toddler this Sunday 11 Feb 12pm show from Aurora Orchestra of Tchaikovsky & Marvellous Kingdom

Choose a social media of your preference (Instrgam or Facebook) and enter the competition (winner is selected on Thu at 12:00):

1) follow 3 House Club and AuroraOrchestra 
2) Like the post (here for Facebook or Instagram) and tag two friends who maybe interested in the show.

Good luck!

Far, Far Away: Tchaikovsky and the Marvellous Kingdom
Half-term shows 10-11 & 17-18 February, various times - Kings Place

Join Aurora Orchestra musicians on a glittering adventure through the Marvellous Kingdom: meet singing ducks, dancing shoes, and soaring space rockets. This immersive, multi-sensory show weaves together new chamber arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s enchanting music with an original story from Aurora Writer-in-Residence Kate Wakeling. Young audiences (aged 0-4) and their families are invited to listen, sing, dance, and enter a magical world of music, discovery, and play.

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Source: http://www.auroraorchestra.com/event/tchai...