We’ve been trying to save to visit my brother in New York for some time, so when he got a place in the NY marathon we had a perfect reason and date for our trip. We set off with the rest of the family for just over a week, armed with flags and banners and were able to see him at 2 points on the route: Still smiling, even though he was in a lot of pain with a bad knee. We couldn’t have been prouder!
Aside from the marathon, what an exciting week it was! Anyone reading this who knows me knows that my family and I don’t need much of an excuse to dress up. We were in New York during Halloween week and this gave us a valid reason to raid the dressing up boxes, our own and the amazing Aladdin’s cave of dressing up delights at my brothers’ girlfriend’s house! The Halloween parade itself was great but the streets, too, were filled with people dressed up in all kinds of weird and wonderful costumes. Bizarrely, we seemed to be the subject of many tourist photos; we were quite overwhelmed at the number of people who stopped us to take our photo. Initially, I think it was the cute factor of our little zombies in their suits, but once they had been given a giant skull and were walking along with a giant headed uncle we became an even more entertaining family for some reason!
It has been a week full of memorable moments. An exhausting week of sightseeing, walking, shopping, eating stacks of pancakes and almost daily hotdogs. I do hope my boys will have many memories to look back on but when asked what the best bit of the trip was? The movies on the plane! They have been to the top of the Empire State Building, in the speeding lift to the Top of the Rock, spent hours (and several dollars) in FAO Shwartz, been minor celebrities for the night, carved the most impressive pumpkins on the street and yet the 7 hours of movies is the best bit! Love’em!!
It is worth noting though, that if ever I needed a solid argument for not watching much TV, this trip was it. We don’t have the TV on much at home and so when we sit down to watch it is to watch something specifc and they really do sit and watch, uneasily distracted. I sometimes question if I have turned the TV into some kind of revered object. At times they almost beg to watch, “we haven’t watched any TV for days mummy”! And so, whilst TV (scream time as L calls it) has become a novelty it can be a very useful way of keeping them quiet. And tidy. For seven hour stretches. There you have it – my parenting tip of the week: when embarking on a long haul flight, remove all screen time for at least 2 weeks prior to travelling and you have no need to board the plane armed with wordsearches, colouring, card games, pass the pigs, sticker books, travel solitaire, connect 4 and monopoly, a selection of story books and an iPad. No need at all!
Learning wise, I don’t think it’s necessary to write here about all the opportunities for learning that travelling provides (the Geography, History, cultural comparisons being the most dominant). What is worth mentioning though is that the kind of learning that takes place cannot be neatly ticked off into assessment boxes. It goes far deeper than that. Yet parents and schools are penalised for taking term time holidays. It frequently occurs to me that if schools and parents were encouraged to emphasise the learning that occurs during family holidays, then perhaps the absence from school could be recorded as educated off site and as such attendance figures not be affected. I must emphasise that this is completely my opinion, not advice! I just always found it such a frustration on both sides when I had to deal with this area in my DH role.
It seems to have taken us weeks to get back into routine here. We had Lightning’s 4th birthday shortly after our return which has delayed getting our sleep pattern back into English time by a good few days. We are finally back on track though. New topics are starting and lots more exciting learning to look forward too. I think I am slightly more laid back about structure, at least for the moment, but we’ll have to see how that goes!
For some tips about how I get my children writing when we’re away or out and about, take a look at the updates on my learning at home page.