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How to Create the Perfect Garden Grass for Your Kids Play Area

Parents these days rightfully complain that their kids are spending too much time indoors and not enough time away from screens and in nature.

The fact of the matter is if you want your children to spend more time outdoors, you will have to work on providing them with a nice looking and exciting play area. 

Follow this guide to discover how to create the perfect garden grass for your kids’ play area, even if you start from scratch. 

Proper preparation matters 

Before you get down to grass seeding or turfing, you have to prepare the soil.

This means you should use a garden tiller to even it out once you remove all of the weeds and unwanted things such as rocks or tree roots.

You can use a flat shovel to dig out the plants and weeds that ruin the look of your upcoming lawn or use a herbicide to kill all the unwanted plants and then take a sod cutter to remove the dead grass and roots. 

After that, have experts test your soil to know what type of grass is the best for that specific area. Just this one simple step is enough to save you from a lot of unnecessary stress and hard work.

Another essential part of preparations is spreading a starter fertilizer onto the soil after breaking the ground down with the tiller or rototiller. The next thing you should use is a soil amendment, also known as a soil conditioner. Good homemade compost can also do the trick here, but you will have to head out to the store and buy some soil amendment if you don’t have any.

Once again, use the tiller to mix the soil with the nutrients. After that, rake the ground to even it out and remove any rocks and debris. With that out of the way, you are ready to move onto the next step.

Seeding and watering your new garden 

Once all the prep work is complete, it is time to start seeding.

Check the seed bag for instructions on the recommended seeding rate. One more thing to know before you load up the seeder is that applying the seed should not be all done in one go.

Instead, divide the seed into four piles and spread it in four different directions – top to bottom, left to right, and vice versa. That way, you will ensure that all of your garden is evenly covered in grass with no empty spots.

The next thing you want to do is take another look at the instructions. For example, if they say that you should cover the seeds with a thin layer of dirt, take a rake and have another go at your developing garden.

Once you have planted the seeds, it is essential not to let your new grass dry in the upcoming week or two. That is how long it will take for the grass to start to sprout.

Use a hose to evenly water the entire garden, but be careful not to overdo it and turn the soil into mud.

This initial period is crucial for the proper development of your lawn, so make sure no people or animals step onto the germinating grass.

Care and maintenance 

Congrats, you have made it. Now that your garden is out of the awkward initial stage, all you have to do is take good care of it and properly maintain it.

This means that you will still have to water your new lawn three times a day until it is tall enough to mow – for most grass kinds, this is roughly two inches.

When mowing the garden, do not be too aggressive – you want to stay with at least an inch of grass remaining, so do not cut off more than one-third of the overall height of the grass.

Continue watering the grass regularly until you have mowed it three times. Only then will you know that it has become strong and robust enough to make it independently.

After that, adjust your watering schedule to the type of grass and your local weather and environment. Lastly, don’t forget to remove new weeds as they are coming out.

And there you have it – you have created the perfect grass for your kids’ play area! All that is left to do is decide what to do with it, so it is more attractive for your children.

Setting up a kid-friendly garden 

Now that all that hard work is behind you, it is time to create a garden that encourages active play so that your kid will want to spend time in it. Active play is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

One thing you can do is create backyard “rooms” – areas where kids can feel like they have some privacy or where they can hide during a game of hide and seek. To make them, you can use natural elements such as tree stumps or rocks that you already have. You could also repurpose an old tent and turn it into a spot for controlled garden “camping.”

Just about anything that provides some sort of cover – artificial or natural – will do the trick. Just place an umbrella or a canopy in the garden, and your kid’s imagination will fill in the rest.

Next, you might want to build or buy a sandbox for your kids to play in. Add some shovels, scoops, molds, buckets, and construction vehicles, and you have created a perfect play area for your child.

Another essential sensory experience is playing with water. If your kid is small, just set up a water table for them to play safely. In case your kids are a bit older, all you have to do is get the sprinklers going in the warm weather and let your kids have the time of their lives on your perfect lawn. 

Finally, let your kids express their inner artist by setting up a blackboard and giving them plenty of colorful chalk to draw with. Your best bet would be to get some sidewalk chalk, as kids can also use it for games such as tic tac toe and hopscotch.

Note: This is a collaborative post

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5 Unique Extracurricular Activities for Children

Extracurricular activities are a must for children to take part in and learn more about what they enjoy and they don’t like as much. It’s also key for your child to take a break from their main studies and develop skills in other areas.

With that in mind, here are 5 unique activities you might not have thought about that your child could enjoy, from this nursery in Cambridge

1. Music lessons

Learning an instrument is a very unique way of letting your child learn something entirely new and exploratory. It’s a great way for your child to practice their maths, coordination and logistical skills as they follow music sheets, using the right notes and continuing practice of their motor skills.

2. Swimming

This is usually a sport that works the entire of your body as soon as you enter the water. It’s a sport that targets a lot of the body and improves coordination, balance and is perfect for exercise.

3. Dance classes

Lots of girls often join in dance classes, but there’s no reason to say boys can’t take part as well. If they’re interested in learning dance, get them involved at a local club. Lots of classes and groups work towards a dance recital or performance at the end of a term.

4. Martial arts

Kids can learn about self defense and also get a cultural history lesson when they take part in martial arts. There are a host of different martial arts your child can take part in, such as Karate, Judo and Taekwondo.

5. Gymnastics

A lot of kids enjoy gymnastics as there are so many strands to it – trampolining, floor exercises, pommel horse and balance beams. Each activity requires a lot of strength that can be learnt over time with the support of a local gymnastics club.

Note: This is a collaborative post

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Activities to Strengthen your Child’s Fine Motor Skills

Almost all of our interactions in life require use of our hands. There are many ways we’re taught as a child to make sure that we develop what we call fine motor skills – continued practice of our small hand and arm muscles. It also requires the use of our brains to know how to hold certain items and to use them.

From this girls private school in Surrey, here are some great ways you can train your child into using their motor skills that are fun and educational.

Water play

Water play can be done in multiple ways. You can blow up a paddling pool in your back garden and let your child play with toys in the water – key ways that you child will be able to practice holding toys and using their fingers. Simple ways of letting children play with water include letting them use cups to fill up with water, pouring water and splashing water around.

Water play improves the child’s senses by understanding texture, sounds and smells as well as their fine motor skills.

Puzzles and board games

Picking up small pieces to make a puzzle or to move points on a board improves your child’s grip and handling. Puzzles should be done together to allow your child to learn how to put the pieces together with supervision, as there’s a tendency for kids to put pieces in their mouth, but it all pays off in the end. Persevere with your child when they’re playing games like these, as it all aids towards fine tuned motor skills.

Painting, colouring and drawing

All of these are great ways for your child to get involved in making art. Holding paint brushes, colouring pencils, pens and sketching pencils will give your child the chance to practice how to keep a grip. These activities are also key for helping your child to develop their hand-eye coordination.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post

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Wrinkles and the Benefit of Astaxanthin

In the natural world, astaxanthin is found in algae, fish, krill oil, lobsters, crab, crawfish and salmon but if you are not a great seafood eater from sustainable and safe sources, you might be deficient in this nutrient. Fortunately, it is possible to include it in your diet in the form of a supplement. In case you are wondering, astaxanthin is pronounced “asta-ZAN-thin”.

Why Astaxanthin is an Important Anti-aging Tool

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Pic Credit: Pixabay

Astaxanthin is especially important for both males and females to use as they grow older and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, while we have written many posts on the necessity for maintaining high vitamin D levels (including as part of an anti-aging strategy), astaxanthin is an excellent adjunct to vitamin D, acting as an internal sunscreen when it helps to protect the skin from all types of radiation. Secondly, studies have also shown that astaxanthin works to rejuvenate the skin. Two such studies worked with females first and then males where they were given a daily dose of 6mg astaxanthin for several weeks. They all showed improvement in the different areas of skin health including:

  • Crow’s feet wrinkle size and elasticity
  • Age spot size
  • Moisture content and loss
  • Skin texture and
  • Sebum oil level

The researchers concluded that astaxanthin could well improve the skin condition in men as well as women. Thirdly, a further anti-aging tool is for improved eye health. Astaxanthin crosses the blood-eye barrier, supporting vascular health within the eye while protecting the eyes’ sensitive cells.

The Importance of a Fit and Healthy Lifestyle

Of course taking a supplement and thinking that this will solve any aging,or other problem, is not the way to go. It has to be part of the bigger picture of a fit and healthy lifestyle in terms of regular exercise, what we eat and the chemicals and toxins we avoid. Building a strong immune system is paramount in helping our bodies to fight disease. Nevertheless, combined with such a fit and healthy lifestyle, astaxanthin has powerful abilities to protect our skin (as it ages) from wrinkles and age spots, improve our eye health and even reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and other conditions such as gout. No supplement or ingredient is ever a magic and isolated aging preventative. It has to be in tandem with living an all-around-healthy and active lifestyle – one that we frequently share with you on our health blog!

Considering Natural vs. Synthetic Forms of Astaxanthin

The studies mentioned above were conducted using the non-synthetic form of astaxanthin. When choosing your own astaxanthin supplement, look for a natural version.

How to Take Astaxanthin

Although there is not a standard recommended dose, the amount used in various studies (and to ensure you receive all the benefits) is a daily dose of 4 to 6 mg. As with vitamin D3 and some other supplements, astaxanthin is fat-soluble meaning that taking it along with a spoonful of organic coconut oil, butter from a grass fed source or extra virgin olive oil will ensure it is best absorbed into your system for optimum benefits and results. In the meantime, if you are concerned about wrinkles or age spots, help is at hand.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
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How to destress playing games online

When it comes to finding ways to distress, playing games online can be a huge help. It’s amazing that the world of technology that we live in offers us so many ways to unwind, this means that we have the ability to slow down and relax a bit when those stressful times arise.

What is stress?

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In the current environment we find ourselves in with the ongoing covid situation, for many of us it has been a very stressful time either missing family or loosing income, stress unfortunately has become a feature of our daily lives.  The word stress tends to be bandied about a lot but what does it actually mean, according to Mental Health.org stress is “Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure“, it is in essence our body’s response to pressure.

Online gaming

One of the biggest bonuses of using  technology to distress is that it’s an immediate action to do. This means that you have the ability to recognize those feelings of stress and anxiety and then very quickly use your PC or laptop to find a balance and calmness.  Online gaming can conjure up negative connotations however it is anything but like that. Take plays.org for example, which is a fantastic site offering free and fun games you can play online via your browser. The selection is really huge, currently over 100, with new games are being added all the time, a number of games a day I believe.  What I love about this site is that it is almost the opposite of today’s ultra competitive gaming industry – no downloading of apps, no paid upgrades, games you can dip in and out of, pure old school fun and exactly the kind of games which can help destress and take your mind off things.

There are so many games that can be great for getting rid of the stress as well. Myself and my husband put this theory to the test of the last couple of weeks and we have been trying out some of the plays.org games. What I really loved was the Pac Man inspired game PacRat closely followed by Super Tetris.

Pic Credit: Plays.org

My husband totally loved Metal Pinball and the Danger Mouse game -some serious nostalgia there!!! You can always start by clicking into a few and then seeing if they’re what you need. They are super simple to click into and give a go.  And if you don’t feel as though one game is working for you, simply try another! With so many great online games and options, you don’t have to settle for anything that isn’t instantly providing your relief.

Using simple online gaming  to distress is the perfect way to slow down and get your mind thinking about something else.

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How To Assist A Friend Going Through Difficulty

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Life changes occur in many forms; from the end of a relationship, to the start of a new career, perhaps a baby on the way. It may be a form of loss, a step in the direction to end their addiction, and along this path, it is important to have like minded people to help you. If your friend is starting their own business venture, then encourage them instead of putting their dreams down. Try and offer advice. Try and educate them gently, if you think they are making a poor decision. If they are heading through a period of financial difficulty, point them in the direction of help. Here are firstly some tips to assist someone during this time: 

See the bright side

The situation cannot be 100% bad, despite what your friend is going through. Ask them what the positive aspects of what you are discussing, you may help them change their perspectives on things. In addition to this, you may want to look at ways to cheer them up with positive stories – telling them to focus on their business or other good things in their lives. 

Help others

Suggest that your friend accompany you to help another person, whether it is visiting an elderly person, helping out a loved one or volunteering. By helping others, everyone automatically feels better. Therefore offer your wisdom and assistance. Buy them something they may need personally or professionally – you may want to look here for inspiration. 

If for example its finances that are causing the difficulties it can be very difficult to think straight so one useful way you could help is to talk through the issue utilising calculator.me. This is a really useful online free calculator site where you can run the calculations in terms of repayments or costs on a whole host of types of loans.  This can be a really useful starting point if recalibrating finances is a key concern.  There is also a very useful financial planning section where you can view retirement and financial planning calculators. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way to alleviate concerns and assist.

Be present

It doesn’t matter what you say or what you do. The main thing is that you are there. Turn off your cell phone, don’t look at your watch, and listen to your friend without expressing judgment or even advice unless they ask you to. Grab a coffee, go for a walk, order pizza. These small things can help calm people down and make them realize that they are not alone. 

Do good together!

A balanced meal based on fruits and vegetables, a half-hour walk in the middle of nature, a yoga class or a meditation session… these small gestures increase the feeling of well-being, it is scientifically proven! And when your body and mind get better, you may be able to consider solutions that you hadn’t thought of. Try doing this with your friend, because this could help them see the bigger picture. A healthier lifestyle will most definitely assist them.

To use compliments

Your friend is probably prone to harsh self-criticism at this difficult time, which increases their anxiety and the risk of depression. Remind them of their qualities, strength, and talents. A sincere compliment can do wonders as it would do for you, undoubtedly. 

Offer them the help they need

To help a friend or loved one through a difficult spell, you must first learn some key points. These will assist you in helping their recovery and leading them to a happier path. Here are some points to consider: 

  • Listen and take an interest in what the person is going through: The greatest quality of a caregiver for a depressed person is their ability to listen. To encourage your loved one to speak up, you need to have an attitude of openness, gentleness, and patience. Encourage the person to talk about their pain. Expressing your feelings is sometimes difficult. Depressed people don’t want to be rushed. Listen carefully, speak little, and maintain constant eye contact.
  • Take their suffering seriously: Don’t trivialize anything. And above all, avoid uttering phrases such as:

    friends

    Pic Credit: Unsplash

      • Many people go through more tragic things than you do and are not depressed.
      • Everyone has their own problems.
      • Your problem is not that serious. I have been through much worse things and I have survived.
  • Show them affection: One of the best things you can do to help your loved one is to show them that you care. If you feel that the person in question is in need of physical comfort, and if your relationship allows it, don’t hesitate to give them a hug. It can do so much good. It is also very helpful to state your unconditional support, for example by saying:
      • I love you no matter what you say or do.
      • To me, you are so important.
      • I’ll never abandon you.
  • The support of someone you trust is essential, especially during deep anxieties. Even if your loved one seems indifferent, know that they appreciate your efforts to help them.
  • Understand as much as possible: This is vital because when you make an effort to understand the situation, it will make them also see things in a different light. Here are the typical symptoms of depressed people:
      • Sadness
      • Insomnia and fatigue upon waking up
      • Intolerance of minor annoyances
      • Loss of general interest
      • Self-isolation
      • Affective indifference
      • Sometimes aggressive behavior
  • To help you better understand your loved one, think back to your own dark times. Remember how difficult, if not painful, everything got in this state of desperation. Imagine how difficult it would be for you to live this way for a long time.
  • Be tolerant: Avoid responding to aggression with aggression. Because of their pain, people with depression sometimes say hurtful words for no apparent reason. Don’t take these offenses too seriously. Recognize that the person doesn’t mean harm to you. Their mood swings are not personal towards you. 
  • Promote closeness: Regularly spend quality time with your loved one, including one-on-one. Suggest outings or find activities you can do together. It gives your loved one the opportunity to open up about what is wrong. The important thing is to create a warm atmosphere in which your loved one wants to share their feelings.
  • Perhaps your main concern is wondering if your assistance has actually contributed. There are two ways to answer this question. First, carefully observe the behavior of your loved one in various situations. Ask them how they are feeling, gently and carefully and see if they open up to you about the ways in which you advised them have helped, or if they are seeing things in a different way also.
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Organising Your Business: 3 Pertinent Principles

The task of growing a business is a fine art, it requires a significant number of strategies, all operating at the same time. When you are looking to grow a business, you’ve got to get started in the right way, and organisation is the key component that underpins absolutely everything. So, what does it really take to keep your business organised? It’s a lot more than you think. 

Work Smart, Not Hard

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Working smart is the most important tool we can use these days to keep track of every single aspect. While organising is key because everything needs to go in a discernible order, the fact of the matter is that whether you are trying to manage deliveries from a fleet, or keep track of customer support, you’ve got to track each individual aspects. This is why fleet companies use fleet management software and many e-commerce agencies use CRM software. Everything appears to be about metrics these days, and when we have a tangible vision of how we can look after our business, using these results gives us the bigger picture. Tools are invaluable because they will help you work smart rather than hard. 

 

Hire Different Types of People

This could go one of two ways. When you hire workers that fulfil different areas of the business, you are covering a lot of ground, but the risk in doing this is you start to hire people who are diametrically opposed to each other. Ultimately, we can take it as given that there will be office politics and conflict, and these people will have to put up for the sake of the business. But when you start to hire people that you believe have the right attitude, it’s not necessarily about skills. Hiring different types of people gives you the opportunity to diversify your efforts, but also means you have people with differing perspectives of tasks. Ultimately, what you say goes, as you are in charge. But when you start to hire different walks of life, they can inspire you, and help you to retain the organisation in a completely different way. 

Focus on Improving Productivity

There are many ways to make progress with your business. You can incorporate productivity tools and streamline certain approaches, but you can also create an environment conducive to productivity. There are simple ways to do this, such as by adding plants around the office, which can increase productivity by 15%, as well as purchase a standing desk. Of course, there are other collaboration tools that you can use, and when we think about all of these working together in tandem, this will result in a far more efficient company ethic.

When you start to cover these three areas, you will have made a significant dent in the approach it takes to organise a company. The fact of the matter is that many businesses fly by the seat of their pants, and only deal with problems as and when they arise. But this is down to the fact that they were disorganised in the first place. Organise your business, and you will be set.

Note: This is a collaborative post

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Quick and Easy Beauty Tips for Mums

When you’re a mother, you’re probably too busy to worry about long and arduous beauty regimes. Who really has the time for a twelve-step skincare routine? Making time for yourself is so important, though, and for many women, taking care of their appearance is a type of self-care. 

If you’re a busy mum looking for some quick and easy beauty tips, this is for you.

Skin

Taking care of your skin is essential for beauty. By following these simple tips, you can keep your skin looking plump, fresh and youthful for longer.

Wear Sun Protection Every Day

Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial, even if you live in the cloudy UK! The sun’s rays can have a huge impact on your skin, both from a beauty and a health perspective. If you only have time for one thing in the morning, make sure it’s putting on a high-factor sun cream. Don’t forget to reapply it throughout the day – just keep some in your handbag.

Always Take Off Your Makeup

You absolutely must remove all your makeup every night before you go to bed. Sleeping in makeup is terrible for your skin, so make it a part of your night-time routine, and don’t forget to do it.

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Pic Credit: Pixabay

Put the kids to bed, then go to the bathroom and cleanse your face of any and all makeup. Your skin will thank you.

Address Wrinkles 

Many women don’t mind about wrinkles, fine lines or crow’s feet, but if your appearance is something that bothers you, you can always consider a simple cosmetic procedure like botox. Talk to an aesthetician and do what’s right for you.

Hair

As a mother, you might be tempted to scrape your hair up into a high ponytail every day and leave it at that, but a great way to feel more beautiful is to mix up your styles a little.

Try Overnight Curls

If you don’t have time to spend on elaborate hairstyles every morning, consider an overnight heatless curling method. You can simply wrap your hair in curlers, a headband or even the tie from a dressing gown, then go to sleep and wake up to beautifully bouncy curls. It’s easy!

Use Dry Shampoo

If you haven’t had a chance to wash your hair in a while, remember the magic of dry shampoo. Using dry shampoo is an easy way to make your hair look, smell and feel cleaner and fresher, and it can keep your hair looking shiny and healthy until you have time to wash it again. It’s a total gamechanger. 

Care for Your Hair at Night

Most people go to sleep without much thought of their hair, but an easy way to keep your hair looking good for longer between washes is to protect your hair at night.

Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase or with your hair wrapped up in a buff or a silk scarf will prevent your hair from becoming matted, dry and frizzy. This is especially true for fidgety sleepers, so if you like to toss and turn, do your hair a favour and try a satin pillowcase!

Taking care of your appearance is a good way to feel more like yourself and not ‘just a mum’, so try these easy tips for a boost of confidence.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
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The Benefits of Hiring a Spanish Tutor

Learning Spanish can be extremely difficult, especially for some of us. I know from personal experience at Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon. The Spanish program had a great reputation, and I considered myself a pretty intelligent teen, but when I took Spanish, I struggled. I limped along, and passed the class, but I felt bad about not achieving any degree of proficiency. I would run into Spanish-speaking people all the time, but there was no way I would open my awkward mouth and try to word any sentence in Spanish. I was terrified of failing the simplest greeting. 

I don’t know how the high school kids got through pandemic Zoom classes this past year—having to watch themselves practice Spanish while also seeing their classmates wince and analyze them on the screens. If I had to deal with that back in my high school days, I would never have made it to graduation!  

Looking back, I can see why my lessons never really progressed.  I was intimidated in the classroom. When it seemed like everyone else was able to fumble along and practice the Spanish words aloud, I was anxious about how I would sound. I only had Spanish class less than an hour a day back then, and half the class was spent with the teacher disciplining my fellow classmates. The other quarter was collecting and assigning worksheets. We spent very few minutes on actually speaking Spanish. 

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I wish my folks would have hired an in-home tutor to help me. If I had known about the Spanish Tutor in Portland, Oregon, that would have saved me so much grief! I really thought something was wrong with me. Here I was doing well in so many other subjects, but I was a complete screw-up when it came to Spanish. 

Like many high school students, I was just unaware that I could get help. It’s normal for high school students to lack a strong sense of resourcefulness. That came later, when I realized the help is there—you just have to accept that you might need a little more guidance. It has nothing to do with your level of intelligence. Young people’s brains are growing, and learning a language uses both left and right sides of the brain. Sometimes you need a little boost to help increase the volume and density of the white and gray matter and brain connectivity. At Tutor Portland, we give our students the time and attention they need to practice Spanish in a supportive environment. We give them a leg up and a confidence power-up, so they don’t feel so intimidated in the classroom setting. 

We Work on Getting the Accent Right

I had trouble learning the Spanish accent, as many students do. I remember the first time those weirdo words came out of my body. I could feel all the judgy eyes on me in the classroom. I felt like I was trying to translate morse code. I needed to get the whole accent thing, but there’s no way my classmates and teacher would wait for me to figure it out. From day one, I felt like I fell behind. 

The problem is that I needed to practice getting the accent right. You can memorize all the Spanish words in the Spanish dictionary, but if you pronounce them incorrectly, people in the real-world are going to look at you like you’re speaking Pig Latin. 

Mastering the accent is important for connecting with Spanish-speaking Americans, and they will appreciate your effort! But if you want to travel to Latin America, Spain, or Mexico one day, you’ll need to get the accent right too. 

But for now, you need to get a good grade. Either subconsciously or consciously, a high school teacher will certainly grade you lower if your accent is poor or not authentic. They might not understand when you’re not participating because of language insecurities. You want to make the effort to sound good. 

At Tutor Portland, we know peer approval and acceptance is very important during these years. Trying to sound accurate in class adds to the pressure of learning Spanish. Research has shown when students gain confidence, they are more likely to engage in dialogue. We want to empower our students to take the accent seriously by working on grammar and pronunciation. We will practice conversational Spanish to the point of comfort and ease so when our students go back into the classroom they can feel like they have the confidence to raise their hand and speak up. 

Spanish Immersion Works

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Pic Credit: Pixabay

I learned Spanish through a study abroad course in Santiago, Chile. But traveling to another country isn’t possible for everyone. At Tutor Portland, we speak so much Spanish, it’s like being immersed in a Spanish-speaking country. That’s why tutoring I designed our program to be just as beneficial as my studies in Chile. 

When I first arrived in Chile, my Spanish knowledge was at level zero. I had such a bad experience with Spanish class in high school, that I erased all the words I had learned. I couldn’t even say “please” and “thank you!” 

But the immersion helped. Slowly, and with much repetition, I began to pick things up. I noticed my host parents would say certain phrases over and over. They would say “Desayuno!” when it was time for breakfast, so I quickly learned that was the word for my morning meal. Then they’d ask me, “Como dormiste?” Can you guess what that means? I had to guess too! And that’s a great way to learn. At Tutor Portland, we understand how the brain learns languages best.  We will build up your Spanish vocabulary one step at a time. Chunk by chunk. Brick by brick. Poco a poco! I loved being immersed in Spanish. This was the first time I realized everyone should learn Spanish by immersion.  

Full disclosure: I didn’t exactly learn to be fluent by spending time with my host family. Everyone who knew me knew how lousy my Spanish high school classes were. So my parents hired a Chilean Spanish tutor to fill the gaps. I honestly don’t think I would have made it through the program without him. He provided all the help that Tutor Portland provides for our students. He walked me through my homework and edited my papers and essays.

The editing marks helped me to learn from my errors so I could make improvements in how I wrote. In my Spanish classes back home in Portland, I had fallen in the trap of using an online translator to help me edit my papers. I used a translator to write most of my sentences or paragraphs. I know it’s a cop out, but I was just trying to survive! 

At Tutor Portland, we know many students have gotten into the bad habit of using translation services. This robs them of the opportunity to learn, retain, and synthesize information. Like my tutor in Chile, our tutors will examine every word you say or write to help you understand the underpinnings of the language. Your tutor will help you with grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. Soon your essays will receive excellent marks. My Chilean tutor instilled a great sense of confidence in me. I started engaging others in Spanish conversation. I began greeting strangers on the street. My words started to flow and feel more comfortable. I began to engage in full-length conversations with members of the Chilean community, and I felt a part of things. I couldn’t believe I was speaking this foreign language that I had told myself I could never learn. 

I want our students to have the same experience. I want them to get good grades, but I also want them to speak Spanish and to know the language as if they studied abroad. 

Atmosphere and Attitude: The Right Stuff

This sort of shift can happen for anyone and in any subject. Not once has Tutor Portland sent a child away because they cannot learn a subject. And if you have that thought in your head, Well they haven’t met my child, tell those hurtful words to go adios

Your child WILL learn Spanish. You need to start with the right atmosphere. A student needs to know that they are in a ‘safe place’ to learn and practice, first of all, and that no one is there to judge their intelligence or their ability. We already know they can do it. We recommend tutoring at least every two days. Learning requires consistency, and we need your child to show up and give it a try. Students need to feel as though what they are learning matters. When I was studying Spanish at Cleveland High School and later at Portland State University, learning Spanish never seemed that worthwhile. It was just a box I had to check. At Tutor Portland we will talk about the many benefits of learning a language. We want you to see the purpose behind it. 

Second, they need to know their goal will be mastery. That’s right! An ‘A’ grade is our goal, but also, we want your child to speak Spanish with ease. With Spanish-speaking Americans, abroad, and wherever. Every student is capable of earning great grades. It is simply a matter of adopting the right attitude. 

An Over-reliance on Apps: We Won’t Fall For It

I’ve noticed several strategy errors that students make on their paths to learn Spanish. The first is an over-reliance on tech tools and apps such as DuoLingo. We support a minimum of five to fifteen minutes per day on Spanish learning apps, but these programs should not be the primary learning method. Tech tools are there as supplements. They will not help you master the language, nor will these programs give you the confidence or the encouragement that a tutor or teacher can provide. 

Spanish Can Be Taught Without a Mainstream Spanish Course

classroom

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Yes, it’s possible for students to excel in Spanish without a course or class. I’ve seen this happen in homeschools. But homeschools follow a curriculum. These home-based programs typically offer consistent direct contact with an instructor or someone well-versed in the Spanish language.

Our tutors can design a Spanish curriculum and choose a textbook that’s right for you if you don’t have one. Our curriculum services cover the building blocks and basics of the language, as well as conversational Spanish and the written word, so that you have a strong and diverse foundation. In addition, we weave in vocabulary specific to your occupational and recreational needs. For example, if you are pursuing a career in medicine, we would want to develop a program based on Spanish medical terminology and vocabulary. We find out how you will apply Spanish in your life, and build out from there. We call this our Building Out strategy. 

At Tutor Portland we know students who try to learn Spanish on their own fail because they don’t have a system of accountability. It’s impossible to learn the language without feedback. 

Tutor Portland’s Mission:

Our purpose is to help develop lifelong learners who progress on their individual goals. We believe every subject is important, and anyone can learn any subject with the right atmosphere and attitude. Our tutoring services in math, science, reading, writing, and foreign languages will help each student reach their goals and achieve success. Learning a second language has many benefits. It has been shown to boost life-long earnings. It can help your career develop and land you a good job. 

To accomplish our mission, we hire only the most skilled and personable Spanish tutors. We train them to bring out your best. We look for several things when hiring a Spanish tutor, including knowledge of the language, passion for the application of knowing a foreign language, skills in editing, and talent in instruction. Our tutors are likeable and fun. They know how to develop a love for learning Spanish, and we want to share that with you.  If you want to master Spanish, call Tutor Portland today, 

Features

Improving Your Sense Of Happiness In The Workplace

workplace

Pic Credit: Unsplash

We all want job satisfaction at work. But it is not always achievable without a little thought. The workplace fills a very large space in the lives of most people and has a very big impact on our sense of happiness and satisfaction in life. Most people are aware of this work, but do not take any steps to improve their situation and make their workplace a pleasant place to be. If you feel frustrated at work do not let this fact discourage you, as there are many tips and advice with which you can significantly upgrade your mood in the workplace and avoid unnecessary frustrations. 

Invest in shaping your environment 

You invest a lot of money and time in designing your home and you probably spend no less (and maybe even more) time at work than at home, so why not invest at least some of these resources in designing your work environment? The design of the work environment can be expressed in small things like a picture of your family or your pet on the desktop, setting up an alternating background picture on your computer and even hanging your children’s drawings and presenting them to the public. Anything that will help your work environment feel personal and closer to the worlds you love, will also help you be happier while you are in it. Look into other methods, such as finding out about employee benefits and programs to assist. 

Help other people 

One of the best ways to create a rewarding work environment for yourself that contributes to your satisfaction and happiness is through helping the people around you. Beyond the fact that many studies have already shown that volunteering and helping others contributes to mental and physical health, in the work environment this help has a double and multiplied value. When you help others you are more connected to your workplace, to projects you have not touched on before and to people you may not have known before. Beyond that this help can come back to you like a boomerang, so if you feel frustrated and unsatisfied, try to find other people in a similar situation and improve your situation together. 

Set yourself small goals 

When you get to work in the morning you probably sometimes get into a state of despair from the list of complex tasks you have to perform during the day, but this situation can easily change. One of the best tools for achieving job satisfaction and happiness is meeting goals. So instead of dealing with threatening and complex tasks at once, “unpack” them into small goals that you will arrange on an office board, sheet of paper or computer. Now the rest of your day will look much less threatening and you will be able to feel much more clearly your progress throughout the day. You deserve to be hitting the goals you are setting yourself. You are worthy and must continue to believe so. The workplace should be a place of inspiration, so make sure to start from within!

Note: This is collaborative post