HOMESCHOOLING MADE SIMPLE

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Recently, my children’s school was canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Even though my kiddos only go to preschool for about 3 hours a day, I will never take those 3 consecutive hours of free time for granted ever again.

Now that my twins are home all day every day, I’ve taken it upon myself to homeschool them in a fun, creative, and interactive way. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not forever, but I’m giving it my best.

5 REASONS WHY I’M HOMESCHOOLING MY KIDS DURING COVID-19

  1. Due to this Pandemic and subsequent lockdown, I’ve got nothing but time. Most of my work is in person and therefore it’s been canceled.
  2. A child’s brain develops more rapidly from birth to age 5 than any other time in their life. They’re always absorbing everything, so I want to be a positive role model and guide their learning curriculum with love and attention.
  3. Like most kids, if left to their own devices, my children are prone to creating conflict or displaying attention seeking behavior which can cause stress for everyone. Instead, I’d prefer to provide them with fun and engaging activities to harness their energy.
  4. We don’t get much screen time in our house because we found that when we do, the kids get moody and don’t sleep as well at night. Rather than having TV on all the time, or negotiating when to watch it, we have specific times of day when educational TV shows are allowed and we use it as a tool. Watching it sparingly makes it more special.
  5. I find it really fun to be part of the kids’ learning process. It stimulates my creativity to think of exciting ways to teach them something new every day and it’s the best to watch their little light bulbs going off when they grasp new ideas.

5 TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR HOMESCHOOL

  1. RELEASE A NEED FOR PERFECTION

Your homeschool doesn’t have to be perfect or pinterest worthy. It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to take all day. I think the most important part of homeschooling during this strange and stressful time is that it feels playful and makes learning fun. Trust that you have a lot to teach your kiddos and you’re creative enough to find fun ways to engage them.

  1. CREATE A ROUTINE

Creating structure and having a routine creates a sense of security. At our home, we have certain windows of time when we eat, when we brush our teeth, when we nap or have quiet time, and when play inside vs outside. 

We also found that what works for us is doing more of the sitting down inside activities in the morning after breakfast and then shifting to outdoor activities before lunch. Things are a little more relaxed after nap and we try to go for an “adventure” in the afternoon.

  1. START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

For the past two plus weeks of homeschooling, I’ve used everything that I already owned like crayons, markers, paper, scissors, puzzles, blocks, storybooks, coloring books, workbooks, kitchen tools and kids toys. Granted, when I heard that school might be canceled for another 2 months, I purchased a few more specific supplies online, but mostly everything I’m using I already had.

  1. CHOOSE A THEME FOR YOUR DAY

When you pick a theme, you can utilize all the resources you have at your disposal to support your theme and be a little more flexible with the “lesson plan.” Later in this article, I share all the categories that are considered for children’s education and you’ll notice that oftentimes many activities can satisfy multiple educational categories. 

For instance, if the theme of our day is color, we can use color in art, language, motor skills and math. When I’m preparing the lesson, I can grab all the books, toys, and tools that support my theme while thinking of fun ways to integrate everything.

  1. DON’T FORCE IT, BE FLEXIBLE

Most kids have relatively short attention spans. Cultivating focus and concentration is an important skill for them to learn at this age. So I try not to force anything on them but rather help them get interested in what I’m teaching.

When my children are concentrating, whether it be building a train track, playing with stickers, or looking at a book, I don’t force them to stop what they’re doing and shift to the homeschool activity I have planned. Oftentimes if I start an activity with one child and we’re having fun, chances are the other kid will WANT to participate.

THE BASIC CATEGORIES OF EDUCATION

Below are the overall categories of learning in childhood education plus examples of how I incorporate each of them into our homeschool lessons. One thing that’s also nice to remember is that even when our COVID-19 Quarantine is over, all of these activities and lessons can still be great supplemental education to what they’re learning at school.

Language: 

  • Recognizing Letters (upper and lower case)
  • Rhyming games and songs
  • Storytelling or Dictating letters to family and friends
  • Practice writing by hand: Names, words or individual letters
  • Spelling out loud words found in favorite books

Math: 

  • Recognizing numbers & counting anything and everything
  • Practice adding and subtracting with items, abacus, or fingers
  • Fractions (if I cut this sandwich in half, how many pieces do I have?)
  • Baking to work with measurements and following a process 
  • Create your own clock to discuss time, seconds, minutes, hours, etc.

Science: 

  • Talk about or draw body parts from limbs and organs to the skeleton and bones
  • Explore plants and animals with gardening, nature walks or scavenger hunts looking for animals like ants, worms, butterflies, etc.
  • Discuss weather, climate, seasons, environments, etc.
  • Get a Butterfly Habitat or build your own Wormery
  • Constantly observe and discuss the world around you

Fine Motor Skills: 

  • Stringing beads, lacing, buttoning and zipping
  • Cutting with child friendly scissors
  • Picking up small objects with tongs
  • Holding a utensils, pencils or crayons
  • Playing with sensory toys like Play-Doh, noodles, rice, beans or water beads using cups, spoons, a ladle, or bowls

Gross Motor Skills: 

  • Hopping on one foot, skipping, or jumping rope
  • Throwing, catching and kicking a ball
  • Walking on a line forward and backward
  • Walking up and down steps
  • Imitate animal movements with Yoga or freestyle

Geography: 

  • Look at maps of the world or your country
  • Sing the 7 Continents song (there are so many versions!)
  • Talk about where certain animals live in the world
  • Try different cultural food, including language or music from the location
  • Watch a documentary or Nature show (We love If I Were An Animal on Netflix)

Music: 

  • Sing a capella or with recording
  • Have a dance party taking turns leading movements 
  • Play instruments: drums, piano or keyboard, guitar or ukulele
  • Make up songs throughout the day
  • Watch videos of live music with different instruments

Art: 

  • Explore primary and secondary colors with sorting, identifying and mixing
  • Play with shapes via puzzles, tracing, toys
  • Explore water colors, washable paints, crayons, stickers, markers, dot dots
  • Face the Foliage: go on a walk to gather flowers, stick, leaves, then sort and create faces (look up #facethefoliage) or create other pieces of art
  • Dry bundles of flowers like roses or leaves like rosemary or sage

Character Development: 

  • Show kindness to neighbors: say hello, write notes, bring supplies
  • Help with household chores: making bed, sweeping, empty dishwasher, put clothes from washer to dryer, clean up toys
  • Care for animals: Take care of pets or the insects you find on nature walks
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Give thanks before meals or at bedtime
  • Create a Positive Affirmation Coloring Book 

STAY CONNECTED

To see some of my homeschooling in action, visit instagram.com/gigiyogini and watch the story highlight on my profile. 

Remember, your homeschooling doesn’t have to look like mine or any other parent’s, but hopefully you get some ideas and inspiration. 

You can also ask your mom friends what they’re doing with their kids during lockdown or do a simple Google search for “Homeschooling Freebies” and you’ll be amazed by how many great resources (including print outs) there are!

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or ideas and I’d love to see your activities too. It’s so important to stay connected and to support each other, especially during times like these. 

I know you’re doing your best. I’m proud of you. Keep up the great work!

Note to Self: I am Blessed

I’m really not trying to be dramatic, but this has been a challenging year. I literally started 2019 with my head in a bucket – so sick that I was in and out of the ER without any relief.

It turns out, many of my symptoms including severe nausea, headaches, and chronic back pain could be attributed to a congenital kidney issue that I had learned about in 2009.

Back then, when my doctor suggested surgery, I refused. Instead, I tried a holistic approach. But sometimes physical circumstances cannot be fixed without science and technology, and this was one of them.

In January, I had my first surgery. In September, I had my second. And two weeks ago today, I had my third (and hopefully final) surgery.

As soon as I got home from the hospital last week, with strict orders to rest, we had the Palisades Fire just a few miles to the West.

This week, it was the Getty Fire a few miles to the East.

Some of my family members had to evacuate their homes and some of them haven’t been able to return yet. Plus for the past week, the kids’ school has canceled and did I mention that our Nanny left for another family last month!?

So it’s been a lot.

It’s been so much that I had a moment of frustration and wrote on Facebook:

“This was a hard day, well, more like a tough week. Actually, it’s been a pretty rough month. Eh. Who am I kidding? This whole year has been a freakin’ sh*t show. Seriously, this has been a brutal but beautiful year. Such is life.”

I know, looking at it now, it kinda sounds like I’m complaining. But sometimes it’s ok to acknowledge that things are difficult.

Just like my latest instagram post with a quote from Alex Elle:

“Note to Self: Even on difficult days, I trust that I am blessed.”

I know that I am blessed.

I know that I have countless things to be grateful for.

I know that I am a survivor.

And yet, I’m still kinda having a hard time.

#GettyFire

I woke up this morning to the sound of loud knocking. 

In my sleepy state of mind I thought it was our son trying to tell us he needed to wake up and go pee. But we quickly realized the surprising reality that it was actually someone at our front door.

Nearly pitch black, with the sound of wind blowing hard outside, my husband called “who is it?” We were both relieved (yet simultaneously alarmed) that it was our neighbor from across the street.

“There’s another fire,” she said. “It’s been burning since 3am and we’re in the evacuation zone.”

My heart stopped. Am I dreaming?

We had just gone through the #PalisadesFire less than a week ago. That was scary but more manageable because it started during the day and we were a mile from the evacuation zone. More importantly, the fire was smaller and a lot less destructive.

Our neighbor’s news freaked us out so we got to work packing and preparing to evacuate.

I can’t explain the feeling of packing a bag with the items I want to save from a fire. My husband and I both were surprisingly non-nostalgic. We packed just the essentials – clothing for a few days, toiletries, money, jewelry, important paperwork, and our wedding album (well, I was still kinda nostalgic).

As I looked around the house at all the items I live with daily, my houseplants, kids’ artwork, family photos, furniture, etc. I knew that if necessary, I could live without all of it. And yet lots of families didn’t even have the choice.

Hundreds of families had to rush out of their homes in the middle of the night, knowing that none of their belongings might be there when they returned.

Waking up the children was an exercise in patience. I tried to stay calm but they were both still in a dreamy state and they didn’t understand why I was getting them dressed so early and not going to let them eat breakfast in their pajamas per usual.

The more I learned about the fire, the more safe I felt for my little family. We were quite a ways away from fire itself and technically we were in a voluntary evacuation area. However, my mother, father and one of my brothers all live in the mandatory evacuation zone. 

So I started the family phone tree calling each family member and keeping them updated on everyone else’s situation. As of now, things are quiet. But apparently the winds are about to kick up again so we’re not yet safe.

So we have our suitcases by the door, the car is packed, and we’re ready to go and say goodbye to our home as soon as they say we must. 

I pray for everyone everywhere all the time but today, in particular, my heart goes out to all the people being displaced and affected by the numerous fires in California. Mother Nature is one crazy bitch (and I mean that with all due respect).

Stay safe out there. Click here to stay informed. Help each other and let’s acknowledge the bravery of our firefighters and first responders. I am so grateful.

Modern Sacred Circle Podcast, Episode 5: Relationships

What do healthy relationships look and feel like to you?

In this fifth episode of the Modern Sacred Circle, I explore the topic of relationships with fellow yoga teacher and doula, Keya Nkonoki, and women’s coach and healer, Gwen Dittmar. These entrepreneurial moms and I discuss why working with women is so magical, the power and beauty of duality, and what it takes to maintain balance in healthy relationships.

The Modern Sacred Circle podcast was created to provide modern women with the inspiration, tools, and resources to host sacred circles of their own. Hosted by me, Gigi Yogini, each week showcases a sample women’s circle featuring two fabulous female guests who share their unfiltered and uninterrupted thoughts and feelings about a specific topic of the week.

Click here to listen.

The actual experience of recording this podcast was ridiculous. I didn’t have the normal podcast producer that I’m used to and everything that could go wrong, did. Luckily, these ladies and I were having a lot of fun and did our best to create continuity and flow. But I apologize ahead of time if this episode isn’t the same quality as normal. I hope you still enjoy.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast, rate and review us on itunes, and please share using the hashtag #ModernSacredCircle.

Modern Sacred Circle Deck of Card

Thank you for purchasing your Modern Sacred Circle deck of cards.

I hope these cards will bring you lots of inspiration and help you host many, many magical circles. Use this deck to help you come up with your three questions for a Modern Sacred Circle.

You can spread out the deck of cards and choose your questions randomly OR you can look through all the questions and find the ones you like the most. You can even lay out the cards and invite your participants to choose. Have fun. Get creative.

Remember, there are lots of ways to host a circle, but here are my suggestions:

MODERN SACRED CIRCLE FORMAT

(Copyright Gigi Yogini / Briana Anderson 2017)

1. Choose a specific day and time.

Start by picking a day and time. Consider picking a date that coincides with a full moon or new moon, a solstice, symbolic date, etc. or any date that is good for you.

2. Create a clean, safe, and comfortable space to gather.

Pick a place that is private, protected, and free from unwanted distractions and interruptions. Make women feel safe to express themselves.

3. Invite women (and invite those women to invite other women).

This is a great opportunity to intentionally build a strong community. When your favorite people invite their favorite people, the potential for powerful connections and lifelong friendships is potent. It will be wonderful whether it’s three women or 13.

4. Consider making the circle donation-based.

Money can be an obstacle for some, so making the gathering donation based can foster positive energy. Instead of money, we can also ask women to bring something for the shared experience including tea, snacks, candles, incense, or flowers.

5. Bless the center of the circle with an altar or offering.

Place objects of significance in the middle of the circle; including crystals, feathers, statues, candles, flowers, a mala necklace, or any special item with symbolic meaning. You may also cleanse/bless your space by smudging with sage, palo santo, etc.

6. Welcome women and share guidelines/agreements.

Remember that confidentiality is key for a safe environment. Another way to honor each woman is to agree to no interrupting or giving advice during shares. Remind each participant of the opportunity for each woman to be heard, witnessed, and seen in her divine essence. No fixing is required. Create agreements that everyone commits to.

7. Ceremonially open the sacred space.

This could be as simple as taking a deep breath together. Other ways include holding hands, chanting together, calling in the light, reading a passage or poem, or doing an invocation or grounding exercise.

8. Ask your first intro question.

The first question is a warm up. Have each woman share her name and answer a question. Sample questions can be found in the green cards of your Modern Sacred Circle deck.

9. Ask a more in-depth question (time limit & timer optional).

The second question is the main body and offers more space for sharing. As facilitator, you can decide whether this is an open ended question or whether you want to enforce a time limit. Sometimes a timer can help limit the women who have the tendency to over share while also stretching the women who find it harder to speak in public. You can choose your main body question from the blue cards of your Modern Sacred Circle deck.

10. Ask a closing question.

After going around the circle with your intro and main body questions, ask a significant closure question. These questions can be found in the purple cards of your Modern Sacred Circle deck.

11. Have a specific, ceremonial closure.

Just as you opened intentionally, finish with a deep breath, poem, or prayer. You can also hold hands, chant together, read a passage or poem, or choose any closing ceremonial exercise of choice.

12. End with lots of connection.

When the circle comes to an official end, leave time and space for women to visit and connect in smaller clusters. Practice and encourage lots of eye contact, hugs, and gratitude for sharing. It’s always a good idea to set a specific time for the next circle.

Take a photo of you using the cards, or your alter, or your group of women and when you share it, use the hashtag #ModernSacredCircle

Studio Wish List

At my studio, a few of my events are by donation. FYI friends…

*BY DONATION* does not mean free.

In the spirit of abundance, the suggested donation is $20 but other donations are also welcome. Some people give more (I’ve found $100 bills in my donation box), some people give less (I also find wads of $1 bills). Some people bring food to the circle (fruits, veggies, nuts, chocolate, etc). Other bring gifts for the space (see suggestions below).

I have loved receiving the variety of beautiful gifts and because people have things I no longer need in their lives, and I have a lot of space to fill, I have created a wish list. Cash is not the only form of payment I am willing to receive. I’m happy to receive other valuable goods. And by *VALUABLE* I mean things that can improve the experience of the circle or the space.

This wish list includes but is not limited to:

– fruit, nuts, chocolate, energy bars
– hanging plants / ivy
– succulents / cactus
– candles & nagchampa incense
– beautiful pillows
– clean baby toys, clothes, books
– musical instruments
– crystals, stones, feathers
– wood carvings, mirrors
– fabrics, tribal rugs
– wooden bowls, straw baskets
– mugs, glasses, dishes
– coffee, tea, beverages
– hangers, organization supplies, storage
– first aid equipment, feminine supplies
– canvases, art n’ craft supplies
– picture frames, artwork
– bathroom or kitchen towels
– soaps, lotions, essential oils

Any questions??

Toot. Toot. Beep. Beep.

Today I’m going to take a moment to toot my own horn. Beep. Beep.

I am a good person. My capacity to love is infinite. I am One with Divine & I see the light in you. I pray for the Highest Good for all. I am always doing my best & I can always do better. I am a great mom & I try to be a good wife. I hold space for my loved ones & strangers to grow in my presence, with my support. I facility opportunities for transformation & always aim for my Truest Self. I am a work in progress & I’m ok with not being perfect.

Thank you for witnessing me. . .

The love of a dog

It’s been two weeks since my 15 year old fur baby took his last breath while lying on my lap. He was the kind of dog who kissed me until the very end.

Zoid was endless love. Pure, authentic, unconditional, furry and slobbery love.

I haven’t allowed myself to write about him just yet because the emotions were initially too intense. And then life kept happening.

I feel like he and his memory deserve so much more attention than a quick post. But time escapes me these days as I juggle the developing twins, getting back to work, and balancing a new chapter of my household.

But I will always remember…

The day Zoid and I first met at Molly’s pet store and introducing him to Dan, Brynn, Sara, Lizzie, and the rest of the Boulder family…

Him sitting at my feet throughout college classes without teachers even knowing…

The hike we took on the day my niece was born…

Thousands of miles of road trips…

Hours of playing fetch…

Thousands of miles of walking, running, hiking in CA & CO mountains…

Him climbing trees and chasing deer…

The way he smiled for photos…

Swimming at the beach and my mom’s pool…

Cuddling on lonely nights or early mornings…

Him licking tears off my face…

How he’d wait to eat until I sat down for dinner…

The way he would greet me when I’d come home from work with his entire butt wagging (not just his tail)…

The way he stayed close to my newborn babies when I brought them home from the hospital…

How he’d patiently let my children crawl all over him…

The way he made eye contact when I pressed my forehead against his…

 

…I will remember all of this and so, so much more.

 

I am endlessly grateful for our time together. His love and loyalty was more than I could have ever asked for.

1959319_10152802568629571_7251075237522173554_nZOID

2002 – 2017


January 2017 Schedule – Viceroy Yoga

Enjoy Complimentary Yoga @ 10am every Saturday & Sunday at the luxury Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.

These free classes are open to everyone. Please ask the front desk for class location.

Here’s January’s Schedule:

1/1 – Sara
1/7 – Sara
1/8 – Katie
1/14 – Sara
1/15 – Katie
1/21 – Gigi
1/22 – Katie
1/28 – Gigi
1/29 – Katie

The Viceroy Hotel Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone: (310) 260-7500

Valet or Street Parking is available. Limited yoga mats are available so please bring your own. You might also want to bring sunglasses, bathing suit, and sunblock to enjoy the pool after class.

A few of my favorite things…

Pregnancy is an extremely personal experience, yet trillions of women have experienced it. So I wanted to share a few books that I found extremely helpful to me furing my experience as a yoga teacher who got pregnant with twins, and had a seemingly perfect pregnancy until I delivered two months “early.”

Check out these books and see if anything might benefit you, or a woman you know, who is experiencing this life altering miracle of motherhood and pregnancy.

prenatal books

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh
What to Do When You’re Having Two by Natalie Diaz
Multiples Illuminated by Megan Woolsey & Alison Lee
The Premature Baby Book by William Sears
Mama Mala from Ravishing Jewelry

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