Category Archives: Family

Reading and Restaurants: A Long Story of Learning for @iTDipro

Vicky Loras's Blog

George Loras - my dad! George Loras – my dad!

Here is my post for the Special Issue of Outside Influences for iTDipro. I hope you enjoy this story!

When I remember myself as a little child, I always remember a rather quirky child that disliked pink, princesses and fairy tales, and toys – instead, I love reading, as I could read from a very young age. I was also an absolute klutz when it came to anything graceful, like ballet. I disliked being in big crowds.

I loved another thing along with reading: listening to “real” stories.

I was and I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who taught me that I was not weird, and he taught me so much more. He has nothing to do with ELT. Most of his working life was spent in restaurants, in gruelling schedules, either as waiter, chef, owner, or all three together. He…

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Feat No 28: Life issues through language lessons

When choosing a book to read to our students, while sometimes my own children are in these lessons, I choose one that will teach them or make them aware of more than just the English language. Sometimes, the books are intentionally chosen to teach them about life.

And I am absolutely certain that many teachers around the world try to do the same.

This blog post came up because of an incident. A child, like many others as it was discovered, trusted a stranger… online. Whether physically present or online, a stranger is a stranger. Several children had been tricked by a stranger, online, that he was a child himself, and had managed to arrange meetings with them. Thanks to the invaluable efforts of the police, this online stranger was stopped before causing more harm to young lives.

The “Berestein Bears” from “Random House” have an excellent – EXCELLENT – series about life issues for children of all ages.

We read the one entitled “The Berenstein Bears learn about strangers”. I was so content with the impact of this book on our students and our children. I took it a step further at the end of the book by mentioning that strangers are not only the ones we can see but also the ones we cannot see. The ones that ask for a “Friend request” on Facebook, a “Follow request” on Instagram.

I would like to advise parents and guardians to have their children’s accounts private and explain why they should be private. We should also explain to them that it is more than “ok” NOT to have many online “Friends”, numerous online “Likes” and a record number of online “Followers”, as long as the ones we have are not strangers. The book we are reading now is: “The Berenstein Bears : Safe and Sound” because my daughter wanted to play with her scooter without her safety gear.

Thank you.

Eugenia Loras

Ευγενία Λώρα

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Feat No 27: Honored by a student

Today we had the honor, beyond the great pleasure to welcome one of our students to The Loras Network, not as a student but as an observer.

One of our students chose to visit our school, our business, our family as part of her opportunity to observe several professions. This opportunity is given to all students attending the Swiss public secondary schools at the age of 15. It is an opportunity to go behind the scenes in some professions or sectors of interest and get a better feeling of what is involved.

We had the honor not only to have been chosen by our student, but to do what we love doing; tell her why we love it! All the reasons that we love every single aspect of the Loras Network and its past and present. The maturity with which she was absorbing our chapters was also due to the maturity that we now have, emotional and professional, when telling that story.

We had the honor to show her our professional environment as experienced by us and how it affects our daily life, at work and at home.

We were even lucky to have had this visit on a Wednesday! Why? Well, Wednesday happens to be our special lunch date at our favourite restaurant in the building of our offices. We are proud and grateful that we can now have proper lunch breaks after 20 years of a really long but graceful (and sometimes not so graceful) journey. We were honored to share our lunch break with her. It was as if we were having a lunch break with every single student that has honored us by being our student!

What a great day!

Thank you!
Eugenia Loras
Ευγενία Λώρα
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Feat No 26

I found it very difficult to find a title for this feat. Then again, the word “Feat” covers it.

I happened to read both of the following today and felt strongly that they apply to my life. I would like to take this opportunity and share them with you.

The first:

“In motherhood, one quite literally becomes a vessel—a role that often continues postpartum. The young family takes precedence, and ambition takes a back seat; a mother can become the net around her loved ones, their needs veiling her own. It is the natural exile of domestic life.”

This is an extract from an interview entitled “The Invisible Woman”, A conversation with Björk by Jessica Hopper on January 21, 2015 on Pitchfork (www.pitchfork.com – For the whole interview,  http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/9582-the-invisible-woman-a-conversation-with-bjork/). I noticed this on Twitter via @MarianSteiner . 

The second:

“Hire women who have paused their career to have children. Just watch how talented and hungry they are” : . This was also found on Twitter via @Davos .

Thank you.

 

Feat No 25: Allow me to be proud…

Please allow me to be proud:

When Maggie who is now almost ten and Nicholas who is five have been growing up with smiles on their faces while successfully progressing in their language learning. All twenty four previous feats have helped us and now in a more experienced and natural mode, we continue on those familiar to us paths. We still stick to each of us using their own language as introduced in Feat No 1 and we maintain and fully use our investments as explained in Feat No 2. Maggie and Nicholas’ relationship has proven to be one of the strongest factors of development (in every way) as noticed in Feat No 3. We are constantly providing them both with more and more Greek language support just like we promised in Feats No 4 and No 15. They are still speaking to each other in English as predicted in Feat No 6 but with the addition of German language interaction with each other when playing games they have learnt here in Switzerland either at school or through everyday experiences (like when they play supermarket with the stands and products of this country’s brands – very special).

Allow me to be proud:

When both Maggie and Nicholas play a vital role in The Loras Network. When I was supposed to have a solo presentation during the 2nd Loras Workshop this year and they inspired me the evening before to do that presentation as a trio! Naturally, without any pressure or rehearsals. “Would you two like to help mama tomorrow with something more than just setting up the room for the workshop? Would you like to tell the people how we use our mobiles and i pads at home and what we enjoy doing on the computer? How we use our calendar for the languages of our DVDs and all those things we do every day?” “Sure!” replied Maggie with a nodding Nicholas next to her. That Saturday, the 22nd of September 2014, they both accompanied us to our facilities and helped us set up the venue with all the passion and joy that we had.

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They responsibly and maturely participated in the presentation and sat back in their seats at the end of their contribution to observe the other speakers.

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With genuine interest and amazing conduct that even left their own mother speechless.

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Allow me to be proud:

When the Young Learners’ events that you witness through our website or our social media pages are thought up by Maggie and Nicholas. Since August 2014 and on we have been using their ideas for our theme-based days of learning and joy. They have become so experienced now that this Wednesday’s BIRDS DAY was set up entirely by them.

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The rumbling noise this time was not from The Loras Academy but from Maggie and Nicholas’ passionate footsteps. Back and forth, back and forth.

When we go on holidays and at some point mama has to do some business, we all sit down together and do the best business!

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How can I not be proud?

Allow me to be happy and proud!

Thank you.

(It is my birthday on Tuesday, 11 November and this is my way to celebrate it!)

“We have a business to run!” – And a family to raise!

I actually took my Organizer with me into the delivery room when I was about to give birth to my first child. I had no idea. I knew that I would have to be away from our business for some days – and it was the first time I was going to do that too.

 

My doctor was in shock at the sight of a woman in labor with an Organizer but we worked very well together. Excellent teamwork!

The next day, I was overwhelmed; by having our first child and by missing our business. So I did open the Organizer that very next day to make sure that everything was running well. A bank installment had to urgently be paid on that day and I immediately spoiled my husband’s first moments of fatherhood by sending him to make the payment. As soon as he informed me that it was done and over with, I could peacefully concentrate on our daughter. You experience this very often when running a business.

Again, my trusty Guardian Angels, had helped throughout my pregnancy. In so many ways. Even by helping recruit new teachers as for the first time I had decided to reduce my working hours.

Many things were happening to me for the first time:

– For the first time I became a mother;

– For the first time I was absent from our business for three consecutive weeks;

– For the first time after nine consecutive years I made the decision to reduce my working hours on weekends. I wanted to spend time with my child. Oh, those Sundays. A full schedule from 10am to 10pm. It took me approximately two years to become accustomed to NOT working on Sundays.

– For the first time I had reached levels of such trust with my colleagues that I felt very comfortable being away from the business. They knew, however, that whatever they needed, I was there for them.

Many things were adjusted so that I could smoothly and happily combine being a parent and a businessperson:

– We had made sure to have our apartment very close to our school. Literally, a three-minute walk that would end up being much longer due to all the people we would greet and talk to on our way. This way I could easily visit my daughter and she could just as easily visit us. Frequently. That is what we wanted.

– When we renovated the school, we took the opportunity to create a playroom both for our very young students and for my own child. So that she could be just next door while I was working.

– I managed to nurse her for seven months which was a great accomplishment for us under the busy circumstances.

– Some of our teachers would also have fun lessons with her. How happy I was to be able to raise my child in such a social and educational environment.

– As I had the incredible support of my whole family, I was also able to continue attending the seminars and workshops whether they were local or not.

– I grasped the great opportunity to learn more about my profession while studying about my child. Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Childhood development.

Many things showed me that I love being a businessperson while being a parent:

– When our second child was born, we moved to Zug. I made the decision to pause my active professional life and devote myself to encouraging our family’s adjustment to our new environment and all the changes that came with it. I continued my professional development from home. It was not long before I accepted the first business proposal to be project manager of a corporate multilingual childcare center. I said ‘Yes!’ so easily. So willingly. And I could do it from home which made it even more positive.

– Not long after that project was complete, I was asked to become Interim Manager at an international Business Center. I would be responsible for Customer Relations and Sales. Well, how could I say ‘No’ to that? Clients are the Saints of a business in my book. For this period, my father came to Zug and we knew that both our children were in the safest of hands.

– Having the momentum of the previous two Swiss business encounters, I swept Vicky off her feet (who in the meantime was working unbelievably hard) to continue where we had stopped off. The Loras Network was born. And here we are now, again with homes very close to our new facilities so as to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I did not start being professionally active again because I got bored at home. A parent who is at home with their children is among the busiest people on Earth. My children’s pediatrician has a sign on her door that writes: “You have not worked full-time until you have become a parent.” Up to a point, the sign is true. But when you have had the chance to experience both professional life and parenthood to the fullest of their capacities and to extremes, in some cases, as I have, then you just have got to love it to be able to handle it.

And I love both.

It is Sunday and I am working so I guess old habits die hard. At least this time I did it from home, seated between my two sleeping children while playing classical music in the background as a lullaby.

Thank you.

This is how I was inspired to write this post tonight:

My children were playing together and created their very first business card tonight, leaving us speechless. I present it to you.

Maggie and Nicholas' first Business Card

Maggie and Nicholas’ first Business Card

Feat No 24: Our favourite activity; Usborne First Reading Books with audio CD and worksheets

For the past two weeks our children Maggie and Nicholas have been enjoying their Winter Sports Break. Besides relaxing, helping out with our new facilities and playing, they cannot stop enjoying the readers we bought for them and our students from Usborne Books at Home.

The series, English Learner’s Edition from Level 1 to 5 along with a CD and free downloadable worksheets have become one of our best investments both at home for our own children but also for our English language school, The Loras Network and our young students.

At home, we use them mainly as our bedtime story. It helps us all unwind and enjoy a creative and educational ending chapter to our long day. Even parents can benefit from the CD as there are evenings when we are too tired to read a bedtime book ourselves. And then there are times when we would love to read a story book to our children before bedtime and then do the brief fun activities that are at the end of the book, like spotting the differences between pictures or sequence activities based on the story.

At our English Language School, this series has become an excellent way to promote book reports with our young learners. And they love their new project. They read the books to us after having borrowed them at home to read and to listen to the CDs as many times as they like. Then we print the worksheets for them and again with the help of their books, they can complete the activities. Even in the cases that they find the spelling of some words difficult and choose to copy the word from the story book, they are enhancing their spelling skills. They are enriching their vocabulary and they are fluently becoming great readers. We even use the plot of some stories to discuss further and encourage kindness, team work, gratitude and other qualities that will help develop healthy personalities.

Thank you to all parents and teachers for investing in more books for their children’s and student’s libraries.

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