Starting April 5th, 2018 – English Sing and Sign classes in Vesterbro

Maya will be running a third course of an English language Sing and Sign baby signing class in Vesterbro starting on April 5th 2018 for 10 weeks (term time only) at Café Sweet Surrender, Dybbølsgade 49, 1721 Copenhagen V.  The class is for babies aged 6 – 14 months old.

For more information please visit facebook.com/singandsigncopenhagen or www.singandsign.com then choose Copenhagen under Classes near you.

Below is a little about what you can expect from the class.

Learn baby signing with Sing and Sign

Both I and my children loved Sing and Sign! Because it teaches all the signs through songs and music, it makes learning them seem easy and lots of fun. Some of the songs are written especially for the course which makes it easy to include signs which relate to your everyday life with your baby, and that’s what makes it so useful; there’s a lovely song about changing your baby’s nappy, about bath time, about going to the park etc. The classes are themed, and the signs are introduced gradually. This way, by the end of the 10 week course, you have actually covered more than 100 signs without really thinking about it. However – and this really appealed to me at times – each week also focuses on just a couple of essential signs (such as ‘eat’, ‘drink’ or ‘help’) so that even frazzled parents who haven’t slept for two days feel they can walk away from class with something.

The S&S approach is that baby signing is meant to be simple, relaxed and fun, and each class always follows the same pattern so that your baby quickly feels comfortable with the format and start to anticipate what exciting thing happens next …..perhaps the instruments, the peek-a-boo box with Jessie Cat, the props bag or the picture board.After moving back to Copenhagen last year, I met several English speaking mums who said they would love to do a baby signing class if only classes were available in English. At home we were still listening to the Sing and Sign CD, and my three-year-old daughter would from time to time ask for the DVD, and as I still found myself singing along to the songs and throwing the odd sign in, I decided to look into buying the franchise. I am now the proud owner of Sing and Sign Copenhagen and will start classes in early September 2017. I’m so excited to be able to share my passion for baby signing with other parents this way, and hope to see lots of lovely mums, dads and babies in my classes!

 

Differences between Danish schools and UK ones

Recently I asked some UK based mums about aspects of their primary age children’s schools. I had noticed what I saw as some fundamental differences between the two countries’ approach to schooling and my research backed up my thoughts. I have only been a parent in Denmark and Germany and my experience of UK schools is from my own childhood.

The overriding theme in Danish schools is giving freedom and choice to the children even from a young age. For many parents coming from countries such as the UK and the US this can be alien and a bit of a struggle to come to terms with. Although we all remember the freedoms we had as children growing up in 70s and 80s Britain, there is a fear of this for children now. High profile child abductions have bred a culture of fear, however it can be argued that these cases are the exception rather than the rule.

So here are my observations. I would love to hear your thoughts and observations as well. Have it got it right or not? What are your experiences?

Open school buildings – I have not seen many school buildings here with key pad entrances (daycare places do have them). My son’ school has been housed in a couple of state school buildings here in Copenhagen and none of them had secure keypad entrances. I know the private International schools do have higher security but it is rare in state schools. When I asked about UK schools 76% of those who responded said their schools had secured key pad entrances.

Open Playgrounds – a lot of schools here have completely open playgrounds, that is without fences and gates. Some are even have public footpaths or cycle ways running through them. After hours facilities in schools such as playgrounds and sports halls are often open for the local community to use them. When we lived in Østerbro we regularly spent the evenings in our local school playground on their play equipment and we would often see other local families doing the same. In my survey 100% of the school playgrounds were fenced in and only 11% were available after hours for the local community.

Mobile Phones – in most schools here children as young as seven will arrive at school with their own mobile phone (usually to do with personal safety, more later) but will hand it in to the school office for the school day. 88% of my survey said that mobile phones were not allowed in primary school in the UK at all.

Travelling to school alone – following on from the point above, it is not uncommon to see children from the age of nine travelling to and from school alone on foot, by bike or on public transport, for this reason mobile phone are essential if parents and children to be able to keep in contact. This level of freedom is unusual in the UK with 70% of my survey saying this would not happen in their area.

School Uniform – I didn’t have to survey this one as it is rare for state school in the UK to not have a school uniform. in Denmark the reverse is true. There are no rules about clothing, hair styles or make up  but generally children are appropriately attired. I have written about this before here.

School start age – like many Northern European countries the legal school start age in Denmark is 6 and it is compulsory from the age of 7. Before that there is no formal education and the first year in a Danish school (0 klasse) is still very play based. Danes believe that it is important for children to be children and by the age of 11 they have caught up educationally with their peers in the UK.

School hours – the time primary age children spent in the classroom is around the same as in the UK but school days start at 8am in Denmark in many schools and finish a little earlier. This is for practical reasons – parents need to get to work, the daylight hours are short in the winter so children have some hope of seeing daylight after school finishes. Likewise the summer holidays are timed for the months when there should, in theory, be longer sunnier days in July.

School trips – school day trips in Danish schools usually involve long walks to the destination or a trip on public transport. 70% of my survey said trips would never be on public transport in the UK (the other 30% living in metropolitan areas). School trips in Danish schools tend to be funded by the school and parents are not asked for financial contributions as opposed to 80% of my UK survey members having to pay something towards the trips.

There are flaws in the Danish school system, of course nowhere is perfect, but the freedoms given to children to make their own decisions and exercise their freedom within a trusting society is an important element of making children ready to take on life as teenagers and adults.

 

Skolernes Motionsdag – Denmark wide school sports day

Those of you who have children in Danish schools will no doubt have been told that next Friday (13th Oct) is the Skolernes Motionsdag. For those without kids you may be surprised to see hordes of children running around parks, the lakes and other open spaces on the day. But what is it all about?

The day start with a mass warm up session before the entire school goes and runs circuits around a local open space.

98 percent of Denmark’s primary schools participate in the Schools’ Day of Activity with about 355,000 active students. It is estimated that 700,000 children are participating annually. Together they run what corresponds to around the earth around 35 times.

The School’s Day of Activity is part of the Sunde Children Movement School program , which is a collaboration between TrygFonden and Dansk Skoleidræt. The overall goal of the program is that more children and young people move more and establish healthy habits early in life.

The School’s Day of Motivation was first held in 1982. The idea was fostered by a group of sports teachers who wanted to create a joint exercise event in Funen. Initially, the students only ran , but over the years the event developed to include other activities.

This year schools have been given frisbees a couple of weeks before and there is an associated leaflet encouraging healthy habits in children around eating, exercise and screen time.

It seems odd to have the day when its is a bit cold but all the kids seem to love it. You can watch 2015’s warm up video here – still a big hit in our house!

Read more about the day here

Photo credit

Experimentarium reopens in Hellerup

The Danish hand-on science museum known as Experimentarium reopened at its old site in Hellerup (close to the Waterfront Shopping) at the end of January. Since it opened we have been four times, it’s that good. We bought a season pass and now have visited enough times to make the remainder of the year free.img_7489-1

I wrote about the place with a lot of detail here on The Local.

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But I thought I’d share some of our highlights and advice from visiting. So highlights – the new ball run that allows you to choose different ways to send cargo and it great fun. A bit hard to describe but believe me its is great. The ship area with room where you can experience wind up to almost hurricane strength. The newly expanded water area is fun too. On the second floor there is the construction zone and bubble area, perfect for younger visitors. img_7500

If you are familiar with Experimentarium at this site from three years ago, many of the old favourites are here, some with expanded experiences. There are also new exhibitions which will keep everyone interested for hours.

Now for the advice. It gets very hot in the building so make sure your children can strip down to a t-shirt or even a vest. This is also valuable when playing in the water areas so their sleeves don’t get soaked.

The season pass is well worth considering as it is very good value and it means that you can pop in to the place for a short time without feeling you have to justify the ticket price.img_7496

There is a late night on a Thursday until 8pm and we enjoyed this as it was relatively empty and we could go from one thing to another without waiting. Weekends get very busy however with a season pass to can get in an hour early on weekend days.

The food is expensive and decidedly average plus on Saturday lunch time there was an hour wait for hot food. There is a section of the cafe that it dedicated to packed lunches so this is definitely worth considering. There are also a number of places to eat just next door in Waterfront Shopping and I believe you can get your hand stamped so you can come back in. Make sure you do this or at least check your ticket allows you to come back in afterwards.

I think this place is the perfect location for a great day out for children of all ages.

Visit their website for up to date information

Kreakassen – craft boxes for children

For those of you with crafty kids living in Denmark, then you will be, undoubtedly, interested in a relatively new concept here called Kreakassen.

Kreakassen is a monthly supply of  four creative projects a box including instructions and simple materials. The projects in the box are related to the season or time of the year. This means that Kreakassen has adapted the seasons and festivals and offers creative projects for those times that you and your child would like to do. Kreakassen delivers it all: the ideas, materials (although it does not contain every day crafting materials such as pens, pencils, scissors, glue and brushes – they do see boxes of these too) and instructions so that you can bypass the laborious preparations and jump directly to creating.dsc01814We were sent a box to try out (a Halloween themed one) and my son loved it. All children are different but Kreakassen is aimed at 4 – 8 years olds, although older children may enjoy the projects and younger ones with more help from an adult. There are four projects in the box – a couple longer projects and the rest quicker ones. All the instructions are pictorial and in Danish but pretty easy to grasp.dsc01824

You can take out a subscription or buy a box on a monthly basis. Their website (www.kreakassen.dk) has all the details. If they are oversubscribed you can add your name to a waiting list. The website is currently only in Danish but run it through Google Chrome and its all there.dsc01817 dsc01810 dsc01814

ENIGMA – the new Post and Tele Museum

If like us you have been missing the Post and Tele Museum since it closed over a year ago, you’ll de delighted to hear that the first phase of its replacement, ENIGMA opened this month. Housed in the old post building in Østerbro close to Trianglen, the first phase is the bottom floor of the building and houses the ENIGMA stage and square.img_7314

A quick ‘did you know?’ ENIGMA houses the oldest Enigma machine from the Second World War (seen below).img_7316There is an exciting programme of events for both adults and children (in Danish), board games, programmable robots and other family activities, a cafe and also a working post office and citizens’ service (borgerservice) area. You can read much more about it in my article on The Local here and also on the ENIGMA website.

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