Mid-year escape – choosing the right place

July school holidays are long and cold, choosing the right place to for a break-away can be more than finding  a sunnier spot, we can embrace winter and go somewhere to really escape our routine, rethink our goals and bond as a family. IMG_8713

When we sat down to make a decision we couldn’t agree on something at first, feeling a bit frustrated I picked up the magazines I just bought and there it was! A paradise nestled in the Knysna forest.

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Our great escape suddenly became so apparent, we had to take Mish to see the Big Tree! And we absolutely had to stay at The High Acre Forest Cottage with the incredibly creative owners, DP (a friend from my school days) and Hannes. Men of many talents, decorating the cottage certainly is one of their gifts. Everything so perfectly thought out and so fitting for this beautiful forest setting.

Their use of colour is clever, for example the blue on the walls are amazingly warm in winter but cooling in summer! The fabrics used can only be choices of someone who knows his textures and textiles! Not to mention the little nick knacks and art, so right up my ally: eclectic, interesting and creative.

This truly is a home away from home, everything you could possibly dream of having on your break-away. Best of all: it is pet friendly – Gigi was spoiled as much as we were with space and an extra large drinking bowl.

Just a few kilometers from the magical Big Tree and so many beautiful stops and coffee shops, staying here is also very convenient when you want to explore the greater Knysna area. Returning to High Acre Forest Cottage after our daily explorations was just such a treat!

But this is not the only special attribute of High Acre Forest Cottage, DP & Hannes are both avid gardeners and they grow anything and everything from food to flowers. As a fellow gardener, I couldn’t resist! More in my next blog post and some of my gardening tips and treats.

 

Tricks to teach kids to love reading!

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There are so many activities you can do with your kids, some super fun, some not so fun, and I think reading is one of those not so fun activities, because you may think its the best thing in the world to cuddle up in quiet relaxation with your favourite story, for kids today, with so many physical and cyber activities, it is almost impossible to convince an eight year old to sit down and chill with a book.

So I decided to get a secret weapon, well two weapons: first some professional tips from professionals and second take her to the most amazing book shop in South Africa.

Contrary to what some people believe, learning to read is not a ‘natural’ process that happens all on its own. It’s a complex one that requires the proper teaching of various skills and strategies, such as phonics (knowing the relationship between letters and sounds) and phonemic awareness.  https://readingeggs.co.za

First things first:

10 simple steps to teach your child to read at home:

1. Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness

This playful and bonding activity is a fantastic way for kids to implicitly develop the literacy skills that will set them up for reading success.

2. Make simple word cards at home

Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. ram, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin).

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3. Engage your child in a print-rich environment

Create daily opportunities to build your child’s reading skills by creating a print‑rich environment at home. Seeing printed words (on posters, charts, books, labels etc.) enables children to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols.

4. Play word games at home or in the car

For example, start by asking questions like “What sound does the word                      start with?” “What sound does the word                      end with?” “What words start with the sound                     ?” and “What word rhymes with                     ?”.

5. Understand the core skills involved in teaching kids to read

It’s important to remember that learning to read involves various different skills. There are five essential components of reading that you can read about here. These are the skills all children need in order to successfully learn how to read. In summary, these include:

  1. Phonemic awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate the different sounds in words
  2. Phonics – recognising the connection between letters and the sounds they make
  3. Vocabulary – understanding the meaning of words, their definitions, and their context
  4. Reading comprehension – understand the meaning of text, both in storybooks and information books
  5. Fluency – the ability to read aloud with speed, understanding and accuracy

6. Play with letter magnets

Middle vowel sounds can be tricky for some children, which is why this activity can be so helpful. Prepare letter magnets on the fridge and pull the vowels to one side (a, e, i, o, u). To help them, say each vowel sound aloud (/ayh/, /eh/, /ih/, /awe/, /uh/) while pointing at its letter, and ask your child which one makes a sound similar to the middle sound.

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7. Harness the power of technology to keep your child engaged

Learning to read should be an enjoyable process in order to keep kids motivated to improve.

8. Read together on a daily basis and ask questions about the book

A lot of people don’t realise just how many skills can be picked up through the simple act of reading to a child. Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, you’re also building key comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like.

9. Play games to memorise high-frequency sight words every day

The strategy for learning sight words is, “See the word, say the word”. Learning to identify and read sight words is essential for young children to become fluent readers.

10. Be patient; the best way to teach kids to read is to make it fun!

Every child learns at his or her own pace, so always remember the single most important thing you can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you’ll instill an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.

And that is just what I did, I took Mishka to Hemingways Bookshop. What a gem!

Hemingways of Hermanus is a charming antiquarian and used book store located a stone’s throw from the cliff path in the beautiful seaside town of Hermanus. It’s known as “The most unusual and quirky bookshop in South Africa”. Once inhabited by simple fisher folk, today this locale is a popular tourist destination with its picturesque setting of art galleries, eateries and hotels.
Hemingways Bookshop, an emporium of books and collectibles delights the visitor with its eclectic and nostalgic ambiance.

 

IMG_7930This little bookshop is exactly how I would imagine a bookshop in Paris would look and feel like, and I am not wrong –

A favourite destination for both locals and visitors, it has been compared to the famous Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare & Company.

IMG_7932Hemingways truly is a sanctuary as well as a celebration of authors who have stood the test of time. I just feel so lucky that I can share this experience with my daughter in our little village, so far removed from Paris.

This may even instill a love for travel along with a love for reading and books. We need more of these wonderful imaginative destinations to awaken some idea of times gone by.

I hope you too can find ways to get your little rascal to sit still and get lost in a good book!

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