Category Archives: Happiness

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!)

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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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Feat No 23: Behind the scenes… behind it all!

What a week! What a long, hard-working, stressful yet blissful week. During the two-week Sports Break here in Switzerland, our family is working out… by working.

We have been in the process of looking for new facilities the past 3 months as it would be much more professional and practical to each have permanent separate offices. Many of our lessons are simultaneous and have increased recently.

Literally, last minute, on Friday 31.01 we found the best possible facilities, received the keys and managed to move everything out of the old and into the new during the weekend. That means that as of today we are ready to welcome you to our offices at Uptown, General-Guisan-Strasse 6, Zug in the Premium Business Center.

The main entrance is on the side of their vast parking lot. You can almost always find parking space there. There is also free parking in the “Hertizentrum” next to it, the big department complex. When you enter the building, you press the doorbell of “Premium Business Center” and then take the lift to the 4th floor.

We can be at the entrance a few minutes before our first lesson to welcome you and any other day you wish. We can even come downstairs to the parking lot and escort the children directly to the offices and back.

We are very happy as we will be enjoying our lessons in a fully-equipped, safe, practical and even financially efficient environment and we truly hope you will like our new arrangements when you visit us. Not only can you enjoy our offices whenever you visit but also the spectacular Cafe-Restaurant Skylounge on the top floor.

Yes! Convenient and professional, just the way we like it for our students and their families. For our students and their companies.

And you would have never imagined that my son Nicholas actually planted several bolts in the holes of our new bookcases, or that Maggie screwed many parts of our new desks. You would never have known that Vicky looked after Maggie and Nicholas until after midnight for several days and nights while my husband Thomas and I, moved boxes, transported and assembled furniture. You could not possibly be aware of the fact that we managed to spend fun and emotionally-filled family time throughout this whole procedure. Whenever we could, we all worked together. Gathering and separating the material for recycling, organizing all our books and educational games. Remembering all the times we had made changes in our past professional lives. Rediscovering curricula that have been accompanying us throughout our nineteen-year career and happy to discover how many new items have been added since then. Reminiscing all the people and moments that contributed honestly and invaluably to everything that has led up to this day. Feeling proud about what you can accomplish with your family, your friends, your work and your determination. You would not have believed how many times we clapped our hands with joy, applauded each other for the great work and laughed with exhaustion!

You would have never known that beyond the prestigious Uptown building we have now moved The Loras Network to, are all these simply beautiful things we live.

So I thought I’d let you know.

Thank you very much to everyone!

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Feat No 22: Playing Snap Card Games with your students and children

I have always considered myself very lucky to have had the experience of teaching all ages and levels. And I make sure that both our young learners and I have fun together, while having English or Greek lessons.

We recently endeavored in a new business – The Loras Bookshop. We love books, we have been teaching with and through books, and we have raised our children with and through books. Books are a part of our personal and professional life.

Our resources already included flashcards and card games from various companies that we have very much enjoyed, but through Usborne, the Snap Cards series was the one that stole our teaching hearts.

We sometimes start off the lesson with a game of Snap Cards for a change, or in the middle of a lesson as a short productive break and many times at the end of our lesson to bring our lesson to a smooth end. They include a large variety of vocabulary and can also be used in theme-based lessons and events.

Christmas Event at The Loras Network. One of our activities included the Christmas Snap card game.

Christmas Event at The Loras Network. One of our activities included the Christmas Snap card game.

Through Snap Cards, we do not just learn new vocabulary that might occur on the cards themselves. Many are the times that we learn even more through the interaction of the game. Phrases like: It’s your turn; Let’s shuffle the cards; a pile of cards; and so many more words, phrases, and even manners can be learnt through these games. Reading and spelling are also enhanced as the words of the pictures are written on the cards. As they play, even very young learners might pick up on the spelling of words and recognize them when encountering them without the pictures.

I strongly recommend these card games and know just the place to find them: The Loras Bookshop

Whether this small new business of ours grows or not, we are very happy that we have access to this educational material for our students and my children. It also helps us maintain the momentum of our multilingual journey as a family. I take a pack of Snap Cards home every day in rotation and my children’s anticipation is overwhelming day after day. I play with them at home as frequently as I can because I love sharing everything I share at our school with our students.

This is also a way I have found to make my children love my job and share my happiness, so that they do not resent the fact that I am away from home – so that they are fully aware why I am away and what I offer through my work.

Thank you.

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Feat No 21: Christmas Events with our students and colleagues throughout the years

Since my first year of teaching English as an additional language, Christmas educational events have always been an important part of our school year and curriculum.

Whether in large groups

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or privately,

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when I was teaching single-handedly

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with my sisters, Vicky and Christine

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or with a beautifully powerful team of educators,

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for toddlers

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or teenagers,

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in Greece

LOGO LORAS ACADEMY

and in Switzerland,

Providers of English Studies, Services and Events

before my children were born,

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while carrying them

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and later on in collaboration with them,

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as well as for them,

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with simple Christmas trees

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or theme-based ones

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using paper-based activities and crafts

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or technology

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nineteen personal and professional years have passed by, nineteen teachable Christmas Events have been created… and we are still having fun while we are far from done!

Thank you!

Feat No 19: Fear NOT doing this Feat (About missing children)

 I have a rational fear. I fear children getting lost.

When we go somewhere with our family, we do our best to explain the place, the circumstances, the time frame and the events clearly. As much as we can, but clearly.

We mention to the children which destination we are heading off to, especially on family trips, but even when we are going to the supermarket or department store, cinema or stroll. We explain that a place might be crowded and busy. We state who is going to hold whose hand and that we must always maintain a distance at which we can both see each other. We have written our contact details on their backpacks and they have a business card of ours on them. And we do our best to enjoy our outing in a safe way. Without panic, but always alert.

This is how we have done things so far and fortunately, to this day, we are all together.

When I was two and a half years old, I got lost. In a huge department store in Toronto, Canada. I was with my parents and my sister, Vicky was a baby then in her stroller. I cannot say that I remember anything else from that age except that day!

 I remember every single detail but from the moment I realized that mom and dad were not around until the moment I reunited with my father. Nothing before that and not much after that, until, of course, I got older.

 ” I am in front of several television screens (probably at the display of an electronics shop) absorbed in a cartoon they had on. When the scene changes, I snap out of my magnetic attraction to the screen and realize I am alone. Yes, there are lots of people around me but I am alone because mom and dad are not next to me. Cleverly for that age, I kneel and on all four, look around to see if I can see my parents’ shoes walking around. No. I stand up again. In shock. I cannot even cry. Speechless. Even my body temperature feels weird. I hear a woman’s voice asking me if I am lost. I do not answer. I do not even turn to look at her. She told me something else but I could not hear her. All of a sudden, I found myself in an office and the woman’s voice said that they would help me find my parents. They asked me my name and I just said, Gina. I heard a man’s voice saying something and then my name. In a matter of moments, dad came through the door. Such relief. Such relief. And then my memory goes blank again into the rest of my toddlerdom.”

I am so unbelievably grateful to the lady who did the right thing. I thank her so much that she will never know.

Whenever I see a child with that look on his/her face, I immediately react. Even if I am with my children. Even if the child eventually is not lost and in a few seconds the parent appears from the cash register of the supermarket. I must admit that I dread such moments. I must say that I want to help out every time this happens. I must admit that not many people notice when such a thing happens or just react by saying ” Oh poor, thing! He must have lost his mommy” … And then what?

Whether we have had such an experience or not, we must all react actively, immediately and properly.

That is also one of the reasons that we support, as much as we can, the invaluable work of The Smile of the Child (http://www.hamogelo.gr/1.2/home). Besides, a billion other invaluable actions they have been conducting since their foundation to help children smile (hamogelo in Greek means smile), they have actively participated in finding missing children. We can all help. We can.

Please do not leave a child wαndering alone. Act. Try to help the child get to the authorities or the management of the place you are at. Please do not just look at the situation passively. It is so simple to help. To do the right thing.

During the summer break, we we very lucky to spend a couple of days at an educational amusement park in Germany. While Maggie and Nicholas were playing at one of the activity centers, I noticed a very young boy, about four years old,  quietly crying alone. With that look on his face. Others noticed him too. They had their children with them and could not stop, I guess. I had to spoil Maggie and Nicholas’ fun moment. They know my story about getting lost and they know that we must help. Even if we have to spoil our fun. I would rather spoil a lot of things than spoil a child’s life. We took the reluctant  child to the central offices of the amusement park. He had no contact details on him. He did not know English. Maggie spoke to him in German translating what I was telling her. No. We did not do something heroic. We did the only right thing. That is what I told Maggie and Nicholas. And then we went back to play.

This is dedicated to all the volunteers of The Smile of the Child. I have had the honour of meeting the President of this Non-Governmental Organization, Mr Yannopouls, and Ms Kavallieraki, one of the huge contributors to this unbelievable work. Their team can give answers to your questions concerning all aspects of children, whether you ask as a family, a school or an individual.

Do not worry children. We will all do our best to help you get back to your homes safe and sound.

Thank you.

 http://www.hamogelo.gr/42.2/Who-we-are

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Feat No 18: Our events

One of the best parts of being a teacher has been the events we organize for our young learners – for our children. Ever since I started teaching English, I have always tried to find a way to incorporate these educational and entertaining events in our school year.

When I was a freelance teacher and, among several other projects, taught English as a second language to Greek children at a private preschool, we would organize beautiful celebrations for Christmas and the end of the school year. I was responsible for creating a segment in English. It would usually be a short play full of English songs, jumbo flash cards, words and phrases we had learnt throughout the year. What was special about these mini English celebrations, was the result! The children loved them, the parents were thrilled and I was so fulfilled. At the end of the events, the parents would come up to me and express themselves so enthusiastically that they felt their children had performed better in English than in their native language.

Later on at our Language School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, we continued hosting such events with the aid of technology: our interactive white board, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs, audio storybooks, printable worksheets and electronic board games.

As I mentioned in my talk, on 22 September 2013, what I also love about our profession is that we have the great benefit of being able to mix business and pleasure. In such a productive and pleasant way. To this day we still have an event for children, at least once a month. Every month, a theme is chosen and played with in written, spoken, game and creative form, providing our students with extra practice in English, maybe additional encyclopedic knowledge on a topic and with a wonderful dose of fun. For one hour, we make the best of every theme.

The pleasure, however, is not only in the entertaining aspect of the events. As a mother, I can invite my own children into this world of knowledge and happiness. What a combination!

Even when on holidays, we try to find such combinations at the places we visit. My personal favourite has been our trips to Ravensburger Spieleland in Germany. An absolutely excellent environment of very fun education. Even when choosing hotels, we make sure their is a playroom or kids club for them.

Finally, we felt very proud when we had an article published about one of our events during the previous school year. It was “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” Day at The Loras Network and we all had a great time.

Thank you.

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