Matric Rewrites (Supplementary Exams)

All is not lost…

If you’re a 2016 Matriculant looking to be accepted into a tertiary institution or hoping to become employed, passing Matric and receiving your certificate is one of the essentials. However, due to various circumstances, Matric exams may have been an overwhelming struggle for you, resulting in you not meeting the minimum requirements to pass Grade 12 and step into your planned future.

But all is not lost – you may qualify for a supplementary examination (i.e. a Matric rewrite), allowing you a second chance to pass your failed subject/s.

 

Do I qualify?

According to the Department of Education you qualify for a supplementary exam:

  • If you did not pass Grade 12 but need to pass 2 subjects to obtain your NSC. You can register a maximum of 2 subjects for your supplementary exam. However, the candidate needs to have written these subjects during their final year exam.
  • If the candidate is medically unfit or other special reasons for the candidate’s absence, he or she may register for the supplementary examination.
  • If there is a death in the immediate family of the candidate, or other special reasons for the candidate’s absence, he or she may register for the supplementary examination.
  • If the candidate provides evidence that they qualify for admission to a higher education institution but do not satisfy the higher education faculty requirements or for an occupation, as well as candidates who are one requirement short in meeting the minimum admission requirements for higher certificate, diploma and bachelor degree programs, can register for supplementary exams. However, a candidate is only allowed to register for a maximum of 2 subjects.
  • In a case where an irregularity is being investigated, provisional enrolment for supplementary examination may be granted to the candidate concerned, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  • A candidate who was unable to write or complete one or more of the National Senior Certificate examination question papers for reasons other than illness or injury may apply to write the supplementary examination, provided that a written report is submitted by the principal of the school to the Head of the assessment body.

If you meet the above criteria, and would like to register for a rewrite, please contact the Department of Education, via your school. The closing date for applications is the 19 January 2017. But avoid any further stress and register as soon as possible, after receiving your results.

The supplementary examinations usually take place in February and March, however, the 2016 dates have not yet been finalised so keep an eye on the media releases posted on the Department of Education website, as well as updates posted via our BrightSparkzSA Twitter page.

 

2016 NCS EXAMINATION RESULTS WILL BE BROADCAST LIVE

04 JANUARY 2017  I  18H00  I  SABC 1  I  eNCA  I

Individual results available at schools and www.education.gov.za

05 JANUARY 2017

If you’d like to receive an instant E-mail or SMS as soon as your results are released, sign up via the eNCA website – the official partners of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) for 2016 Matric results.

 

*For more information on qualifying rewrite conditions, dates, pricing etc. visit: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/NationalSeniorCertificate(NSC)Examinations/Releaseof2016NSCResults.aspx

*For answers to other frequently asked questions about rewrites, visit: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/NationalSeniorCertificate(NSC)Examinations/tabid/338/Default.aspx

 

How do I prepare?

  • Past Exam Papers

Past exam papers are some of the best form of revision. Get access to a number of papers for various subjects via YOU Online or directly from the Department of Education’s examinations page.

  • Tutoring

This is also an excellent time to consider tutoring. Our tutors will assist you with those difficult sections of work you just can’t seem to grasp on your own, and will help ensure you cover all the material needed before your rewrite. By getting support systems in place well in advance, you will improve your chances of improving your marks and passing your failed subject/s.

Get in touch with us via our rewrite page and we’ll set you up with a tutor who will be there with you every step of the way.

We want to see you succeed, and assist you in achieving the marks that you not only need, but are capable of.

 

Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer (containing inserts from the DoE website)

Managing the New School Term

“What I learn today doesn’t make yesterday wrong, it makes tomorrow better”.

Just as the stress of the exam season has subsided, the stress and anxiety that comes with a new school term starts to arise. We understand that a new school term can be daunting for both children and their parents, and while it cannot be avoided, there are those unnecessary stresses that can be combated.

 

How to combat unnecessary stress and make the most of the home-stretch:

  1. Keep a routine

Keeping a routine is one of the most promoted yet underestimated and underused pieces of advice. Having a routine makes many of the things in our lives that would otherwise be unpredictable, completely predictable – which then puts them in our control and minimizes the stress potentially attached to them. We also often underestimate how much time we waste during a day that can quite easily be spent on a productive and beneficial activity, had we had a thought out schedule and anticipated it. For example, packing a book and reading in the car in early morning traffic or on the way home is a great time to get your reading done when you would otherwise be doing nothing anyway. This also frees up the time you would have spent reading, and can now be spent on other things – allowing you to achieve a lot more, in less time. Where are you wasting time that could possibly be better spent if you had a schedule and planned for it?

  1. Set goals and daily tasks

How would you like to finish this year? What would you like your report to look like when you hand it to your parents? If you aren’t proud of where you are academically, then it’s time to start deciding where you would like to be, and what you need to do in order to get there. Set some long-term goals for yourself, and then determine what steps need to be taken each day that will get you closer towards your long-terms goals. This requires discipline, and sometimes saying no to other activities that a probably way more fun, but I can promise that you won’t regret it when you receive that report card at the end of the term.

  1. Prepare in advance

If you are anything like I was at school, you probably wait until the very last minute to do everything: to get out of bed in the morning, to do your homework, to start assignments. And as I’m sure you’ve already discovered, this inevitably always ends in a last minute rush that sends your stress levels through the roof! Let’s try getting out of procrastination station this term and start preparing for what will be coming, and keep coming, whether we prepare for it or not. Something as simple as packing your bag the night before can do wonders for a good start to the day, and will even help you to sleep better.

  1. Don’t fall behind

Having to catch-up a day or two’s work may sound like no big deal, but what happens when a day or two rolls over into a week or two? We understand that getting home after a full day of school to sit down and spend more hours on homework can be exhausting, and quite frankly, entirely unnecessary. But homework is here to stay whether we like it or not, and fortunately, has not killed anyone yet. The best way to avoid homework stress is to get it out of the way as soon as possible. After you’ve arrived home from school and had something to eat, dedicate the next hour or two (depending on your Grade and workload), to complete that day’s homework. If you’re able to, you can even move ahead with certain tasks or exercises if you know there will be some days where you might have less time to do homework due to sports etc. This leaves the evening free to do things that you enjoy, without having the guilt and anxiety of what’s still waiting for you in your school bag hanging over your head.

  1. Go over your work each day

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re able to keep up with your workload is by spending some time each day (+- 30 minutes) becoming familiar with what is new. This allows everything you learnt during the day to be processed and reinforced in your brain, which not only increases your ability to recall the information (memory), but also helps you to identify parts of your work you don’t fully understand. You can then spend some time making sense of the work you don’t understand, or make a note to have your teacher or tutor explain it to you. Making sure you understand your work daily also helps ensure that you don’t fall behind as previously mentioned.

  1. Still make time for the things you enjoys most

Have you ever heard that saying: “Too much of anything is a bad thing”? You may assume that cutting out sports and any other extra curricular activities will give you more time for academics, and therefore improve your marks, but truthfully, it’s going to end up costing you far more than is necessary. Creating a balance in your life is very important and cutting out the things you enjoy most will most likely result in resenting what’s left – school and homework. While academics are incredibly important, so is your health and fitness, and it has actually been proven that keeping active and making time for the things you enjoy will positively impact other areas of your life as you develop increased energy and better concentration. But remember, in order to make time for the things you enjoy, you’ll have to have a routine to determine what amount of free time you do and don’t have.

 

How BrightSparkz can help:

  • Private tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home or a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through lots of practice, revision of theory, and interactive discussion of the subject matter.

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are selected carefully based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent knowledge of the subjects they tutor, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential.

  • Online Platforms

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths and Science App tailored to South African learners from Grade 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB learners. The app provides top quality resources, breaks up these curriculums into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons.

  • Study Skills Workshops

BrightSparkz Tutors has partnered with an outstanding Educational Psychologist who offers insightful study skills workshops, designed to benefit Grades 8 – 12 in particular, in order to help your child make the most of their education and tutoring. For more information on when and where our holiday workshops will take place, please contact us on edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

 

It’s never too late for your child to start combating stressful habits and taking control of their education. But neither you nor your child have to do it alone – BrightSparkz Tutors are ready to help. Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right onto looking for the most suitable tutor for your learner’s needs.

 

Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Holiday Tutoring: Helping your child rest, without regressing

School holidays are on the horizon, and there is no doubt that children’s minds are already filled with the many fun activities they’re planning to spend all their free time on – one of which we can be sure, is not extra tutoring. Though it may appear to parents as if their children are like sponges and can soak up any amount of extra information over the break, the reality is that the holidays are there for a reason. They are intended to give their young minds a rest. However, the operative word here is rest – not a complete brain shutdown.

Studies have shown that learners, particularly young children, actually display a dip in their academic abilities after extended periods of relaxation, such as long holidays. Upon returning to school, learners are expected to continue on the same, if not a higher level, however, teachers speak of a noticeable backslide in all subjects, as well as in reading and handwriting levels – all being at an even poorer level than prior to the break.

This is due to the fact that young minds need to be continuously stimulated. Children will find something to do with their holidays, but the question is: are these activities actually going to benefit them, or simply allow for academic regress?

How holiday tutoring helps to avoid the regress and make progress:

 

  1. It keeps a general structure

Most people, although we sometimes resent it, need structure in their lives, and children even more so. Without it, a certain level of anxiety can begin to set in – nothing is as it usually is and there is a level of unpredictability that a large percentage of learners (as well as their parents) don’t deal with well. Learners go from a strict and organized schedule of classes, tests, and homework, to weeks of PlayStation games, sleeping in, and countless hours to fill.

Holiday tutoring allows both parent and child to feel as though the academic realm of life is still under control. This also then allows for the other 70% of the holiday time to actually be enjoyed as resting time, as opposed to subconscious stressing time – knowing that the break will at some point end and that they are not at all ready for the new workload that awaits them.

Having your child sit down with a tutor at regular intervals throughout the holiday (even for as little as 1 lesson per week) will provide just enough structure to help your child keep their focus on academics, as well as ease the transition back into the new term.

  1. It allows time to go back to the basics

All subjects, particularly Maths and Science have their basic building blocks, and as I can recall from my own Maths struggles at school, as soon as you’ve missed a set of basics, it is near impossible to make sense of anything that comes after that. Whether your child has missed a few too many days at school, or has just had absolutely no understanding up to this point, the holiday is a great time to use to catch up on concepts missed, and fill the understanding gaps. Once learners start the new term, there will be even more new work to get to grips with.

  1. It gives learners the time they actually need

Without the pressure of class tests and assignments constantly creeping up on them, the break allows learners to feel as though they actually have the time to spend fully grasping various concepts. Additionally, because children are generally more relaxed in the holidays, they are able to retain more information and are afforded the time to actually process it before too quickly moving right onto something new, as is most often the case at school.

  1. It allows you to pick the best time, not just what is left of the time

Extra lessons by nature are forced to take place after school hours when very often a learner is already so drained that all they want to do is something mindless such as kicking a ball outside or staring into a television screen. Yet, after a full academic day, parents and tutors expect them to take in an extra load of information – a lot of which is often entirely lost. Of course, there is not much that can be done about this, but that’s what makes the holidays such an ideal time for tutoring. Learners can have lessons in the morning when their minds are still fresh and are able to process and retain information, particularly new information, more effectively.

  1. It helps to alleviate test and exam anxiety

Most people have some degree of test anxiety, which is most often due to the fact that they never feel completely ready for what they’re about to be tested on. Tests make up a large part of a learner’s grade and it is therefore essential that they are able to perform in this area. A holiday tutor can use the time to not only help your child better prepare for future tests and exams, but also improve on study skills as whole – teaching a learner how to more effectively study and prepare throughout the year, even when not accompanied by a tutor.

  1. It lightens a parent’s load

While children seem to spend more time on holiday than they do at school, parents most often still need to be at work. So when their child is sent home with holiday homework and assignments, it can be a challenge finding time to help them get these done. Thank goodness for tutors, who can not only be the ones making sure that the holiday work is completed, but also that your child actually understands the content of the work and is still learning from it.

  1. It is a time to re-evaluate and set new goals

Tutors are great motivators of inspiring and encouraging their learners to constantly achieve better results. Why not make the most of the accountability relationship your child develops with a tutor and allow them to spend time together in the holidays, not only for the sake of working on school material, but to help them set academic goals for the new term, allowing them to start the new term feeling inspired and driven to achieve them.

  1. It teaches learners to step-up

Holiday tutoring is not mandatory. Therefore, learners who are spending that little bit of extra academic time during the holidays are learning the value of taking charge of their situation, as opposed to being a victim of their academic struggles, or still improving on their average marks and pushing for distinctions. Holiday tutoring instills discipline and teaches the value of doing what others don’t, in order to achieve what others won’t. There is no doubt that learners will see the positive outcomes of their hard-work when returning to school with a greater confidence and understanding.

Myth Busters!

Many parents may assume that it is only necessary to make use of a tutor if their child is struggling, and some even wait until the child has already failed before it feels acceptable to seek the help of a tutor. However, tutoring can be beneficial to every kind of child – whether they are a failing student desperate to pass, or an average one chasing distinctions.

“Research suggests that 30 minutes, 3 – 5 times a week is a very effective way of helping children catch up, maintain or even excel in their academic abilities, especially if they are given one-to-one input, and is the best way to ensure they get the most out of their education”.

 

While an intense boot-camp style tutoring schedule will inevitably burn your child out before the new term has even begun, there are many benefits to having a tutor help your child keep up with a moderate level of academic stimulation throughout the holiday. It will set them up for the best Term 2 possible – and help them actually achieve those marks you’ve been praying about.

How BrightSparkz can help:

  • Private tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home or a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through lots of practice, revision of theory, and interactive discussion of the subject matter.

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are selected carefully based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent knowledge of the subjects they tutor, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential.

  • BrightSparkz App

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths and Science App tailored to South African learners from Grade 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB learners. The platform provides top quality resources, breaks up these curriculum into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons.

  • Study Skills Workshops

BrightSparkz Tutors has partnered with an outstanding, specialist Educational Psychologist with a tutoring and teaching background in order to provide yet another value added service that our learners can benefit from, in order to make the most of their tutoring, and go into the exam period feeling like everything is manageable. For more information on when and where our holiday workshops will take place, please contact us on edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

 

If a holiday tutor sounds like just what you need, BrightSparkz Tutors are ready to help. Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right onto looking for the most suitable tutor for your learner’s needs.

 

Written by Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

How to Help Your Child Prepare for their Exams!

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail”

For many learners, exams are an endless struggle. They are able to manage their homework and cope fine with assignments, but as soon as exams come around, everything seems to fall apart. There are a number of factors that could be contributing to this, but the most common culprit is simply a lack of preparation. The good news though, is that preparation is something you and your child can do something about right now.

 

Tips for Effective Exam Preparation:

  1. Organise your study material

Before learners start studying, they need to first have a holistic idea of everything that needs to be covered by the start of exams. Their material needs to be organised and portioned into manageable chunks, which can then easily be prioritised within a study timetable.

  1. Create a study timetable

Using an A4 or larger full month calendar is usually the best as it gives your child a complete overview of their days up until, and throughout exams.

  • Fill in the dates of the exams and then work backwards.
  • Spread the necessary material evenly throughout the available days.
  • Schedule in personal plans and arrange studying around these events – factoring in additional studying time on more free days.
  • Use the week before exams for revision purposes only – digest what has already been studied, don’t try to cram new information.

It is important for this to be set up at least a month prior to exams, in order to allow your child not only enough time to get through all the material, but also to share their timetable with their tutor – making sure that enough tutoring sessions are planned throughout the studying period, as well as included in their schedule.

  1. Have a study space

Learners need their own space to study, which should be kept clean and organised. This is where learners will be spending most of their days for an extended period of time; so it needs to be comfortable, free from distraction, offer good lighting, as well as any additional factors that contribute to a learner’s focus. For some this may mean complete silence, while others may find soft background music helpful.

  1. Practice with past exam papers

One of the best ways to study is for your child to start doing now, what they’re going to be expected to do on exam day. Learners can choose a past paper, set a timer, and do the exam with no notes – just as if they were writing the real exam. This method is very effective in discovering what still needs to be improved, getting to grips wth the format of the questions, as well as getting a feel for how much time can be spent on each section in order to finish on time.

  1. Prepare for tutoring sessions

Time with a tutor is limited and learners should therefore prepare for their tutoring sessions by making sure they’re going through an adequate amount of work on their own before each tutoring session – writing down any questions they may have. This ensures that the tutor doesn’t spend time going through sections your child is already comfortable with, but rather maximising their time with their subject experts.

  1. Don’t change the routine, change the diet

Making sudden adjustments to regular routines such as staying up longer, sleeping later than usual, or waking up earlier than a learner is used to, will send your child’s body into a mild shock, and as a result, they can’t function at their optimum. While small adjustments can be made to fit in more study hours, overdoing it can affect a learner’s memory and will end up doing more harm than good. A more beneficial change is to ensure that your child is eating healthy, snacking at regular intervals, and drinking plenty of water, as these factors all affect concentration.

  1. Take regular breaks and exercise

Research suggests that study sessions should be no longer than 45 – 60 minutes at a time, taking regular 20 – 30 minute breaks, away from the study space. Exercise has also proven to be beneficial to a studying learner as it releases hormones within the brain that increase memory.

 

But what about the learners who tick off all of the above and spend weeks preparing, but still aren’t achieving their desired results? This is usually due to ineffective preparation – where your child is most likely using study methods that are not the most beneficial for them, or simply no methods at all.

BrightSparkz Tutors has partnered with an outstanding Educational Psychologist who offers insightful study skills workshops where your child will learn not only the basic studying skills mentioned above, but also more about:

  • your memeory being a muscle that can be trained and improved
  • encoding, storage, and retrieval of information
  • shallow processing, intermediate processing, deep processing
  • using tools such as mnemonics, colours, and stories to personalise studying

For more information on our holiday workshops and how we can help your child reach their full academic potential, please contact us on edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

 

Exams can be daunting for both you and your child, but there is no reason why either of you should have to struggle alone. BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home, or venue of your choice. Our tutors undergo a thorough screening process and are carefully selected based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects, as well as their character, personality, school results, and past tutoring experience.

If you’re interested in providing your child with one-on-one assistance, just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right onto looking for the most suitable tutor to assist your learner through exams. The first rule of exam preparation is key: don’t wait – start preparing as soon as possible.

 

Written by Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

So You Think You Failed a Matric Subject: What Next?

Passing Matric is essential; it is the culmination of twelve years of education, and a basic requirement to access tertiary education. Many employers are reluctant to hire those without a Matric certificate, and if you have failed your Matric, things may seem pretty bleak.

Fortunately, you may qualify for a supplementary examination (i.e. a Matric re-write), allowing you to have a second go at the subjects you failed. According to the Department of Basic Education website, you may qualify for a supplementary exam if you:

  • Were medically unfit on the day of the exam;
  • Do not meet admission requirements for Higher Education;
  • Experienced personal problems such as a death in the family; or
  • Failed a maximum of two subjects

If you meet these criteria, and want to register for a re-write, then contact the Department of Education, via your school.  The deadline to register for a supplementary exam is usually mid-January, but it is best to register as soon as possible after you receive your results. The supplementary examinations usually take place in February and March. The 2016 dates have not yet been finalised so keep an eye on the media releases posted on the Department of Education website once the Matric results are released.

This is also an excellent time to consider tutoring, to assist you with those difficult sections of work and to help you cover all the material needed before you write your exam. By getting support systems in place well in advance of your Matric re-write, you will improve your chances of improving your marks and passing your subject. It is important to know, however, that it is also up to you to pass, so start observing good study habits: make up a timetable; give yourself a good, clean, well-lit study area, away from the hustle and bustle of the house.

Get in touch with us soon (don’t wait until the last minute) and we’ll get you set up with a tutor who will be there with you every step of the way. We want to see you succeed, and assist you in achieving the marks that you want to get!

Written by Conor Engelbrecht, Maths & Science Tutor

Help Reduce Your Child’s Exam Stress

This time of year is busy on all fronts, and if you have children of school-going age life gets just that little bit more hectic as you help them navigate their their exam and study workload.

Here are 5 tips to help you and your child cope with exam stress during this busy season:

  1. Encourage routine – this includes study time, mealtimes, bed times, as well as making some time for fun and exercise!
  1. Have healthy snacks readily available – Chocolate, energy drinks, and coffee all result in fatigue and spikes and dips in blood sugar levels and concentration. Instead, have a supply of healthy snack options like fruit, nuts, popcorn and ensure they drink lots of water!
  1. Create a study space – Teen bedrooms are not the neatest of places! Try and find an alternative study space (as uncluttered and distraction-free as possible) which can be turned into a “study-zone”.
  1. Provide support – this goes beyond just offering academic support. Emotional support and encouragement goes a long way to boost confidence and positive feelings. Offer to make a cup of tea from time to time, or PVR their favourite show for later 🙂
  1. Planning ahead – Have a calendar on the wall with all upcoming exam dates. Don’t rush to get to school on the morning of the exam – pack the night before, and leave enough time margin to get to school early.

All that’s left is to make sure you keep a smile on your face 🙂

Good luck!

From us on the BrightSparkz Team 🙂

Understanding Dyscalculia – Part 3

Our two previous blogs discuss dyscalculia in detail. Now that we know a little bit more, what can we do to help our learners?

Tutor tips (For the tutor and the parents):

  • Use concrete examples that connect math to real life. For instance, use examples that include their favourite things or shopping. This helps to strengthen your learner’s number sense.
  • Use visual aids when solving problems. Draw pictures or move around physical objects. Teachers and tutors can refer to this as “manipulatives”
  • Assign manageable amounts of work so your tutee will not feel overloaded
  • Review a recently learned skill before moving on to a new one, and explain how the skills are related
  • Supervise work and encourage your learner to talk through the problem-solving process. This can help ensure your tutee is using the right math rules and formulas
  • Break new lessons into smaller parts that help to show how different skills relate to the new concept
  • Let your tutee use graph paper to help keep numbers lined up or in columns
  • Use an extra piece of paper to cover up most of what’s on a math test so your tutee can focus on one problem at a time
  • Playing math-related games helps your learner have fun and to feel more comfortable with math
    • Answer fewer questions on a test and allocate more time for your tutee to finish a test
    • Record lessons and lectures
    • Use a calculator in class
  • Boost confidence:Identify your tutee’s strengths and use them to work on (or around) weaknesses. Activities that tap into your tutees interests and abilities can help improve self-esteem and increase your learner’s resilience. Try to pace yourself during your tutoring sessions and do not use more than one strategy at a time. This makes it easier to tell which ones are producing a good result and which are not
  • Help your learner keep track of time:Whether it is a hand on the shoulder, a few key words or an alarm; have systems in place to remind your time-challenged tutee when to start the next activity.
  • See what it feels like:Try to experience what it is like to have dyscalculia. Acknowledging that you understand what your learner is going through is another way to boost his or her confidence and to improve your own level of understanding
  • Be upbeat:Let your tutee know when you see him or her do something well. Praising effort and genuine achievement can help your learner feel loved and supported. It can also give your tutee the confidence to work harder!
  • Support, patience and understanding are key!

If you would like a tutor to assist your child or learner, contact BrightSparkz Tutors today!

Understanding Dyscalculia – Part 2

In our previous blog, an expansive amount of information was provided to help you (as a tutor or parent) to identify the symptoms of dyscalculia. Unfortunately, dyscalculia has also been known to affect other aspects of learner’s lives.

Other effects of dyscalculia include:

  • Social skills:Failing repeatedly in math class can cause your learner to assume failure is unavoidable in other areas too. Low self-esteem can affect your learner’s inclination to make new friends or to partake in afterschool activities. Some learners might also avoid playing games and sports that involve math and keeping score.
  • Sense of direction:Some learners might struggle to differentiate left from right and may have trouble getting places by reading maps or following directions. Some learners with dyscalculia cannot picture things in their minds.
  • Physical coordination:Dyscalculia can affect how the brain and eyes work together. Because of this, your learner may have problems judging distances between objects. Certain learners may seem clumsier than others the same age.
  • Money management:Dyscalculia can make it difficult to stick to a budget, to balance a checkbook, and to estimate costs. It can also make it hard to calculate a tip and count exact change.
  • Time management:Dyscalculia can affect your learner’s ability to measure quantities, including units of time. Learners may have trouble assessing how long a minute is or to keep track of how much time has passed. This can make it hard to stick to a schedule.
  • Other skills:A learner may have trouble figuring out how much of an ingredient to use in a recipe. Learners might have a hard time estimating how fast another car is moving or how far away it is.

There are various other learning disabilities that are SOMETIMES associated with dyscalculia:

  • Dyslexia, or difficulty reading
  • Attention difficulties
  • Spatial difficulties (not good at drawing, visualisation, remembering arrangements of objects, understanding time/direction)
  • Short term memory difficulties (the literature on the relation between these and dyscalculia is very controversial)
  • Poor coordination of movement (dyspraxia)

Because there is still so much we do not know about dyscalculia, no definitive cause has been found. However, there are some ideas that researchers are still studying.

Possible Causes of Dyscalculia:

  • Genes and heredity:Studies of dyscalculia show it is more common in some families than others are. Researchers have found that a child with dyscalculia often has a parent or sibling with similar math issues. So dyscalculia may be genetic
  • Brain development:Researchers are using modern brain imaging tools to study the brains of people with and without math issues. What we learn from this research will help us understand how to help learners with dyscalculia. Some studies have also found differences in the surface area, thickness and volume of parts of the brain. Those areas are linked to learning and memory, setting up and monitoring tasks and remembering math facts
  • Environment:Dyscalculia has been linked to contact with alcohol in the womb. Prematurity and low birth weight may also play a role in dyscalculia.
  • Brain injury:Some studies show that injury to certain parts of the brain can result in what researchers call “acquired dyscalculia.”

The most plausible cause for dyscalculia is due to a difference in brain function. Unfortunately, many people think that because it is in the brain, it cannot be changed but this is not true. There are many support systems and tutors available to help your leaner cope with their dyscalculia.

What Does This Mean?

The brain is a highly adaptable organ (most especially during childhood) and research has indicated that certain training programs can increase the functioning in brain areas involved with reading, and so researches are hopeful that the same is applicable for mathematics. For children with dyscalculia, it is unclear how much of their brain differences are shaped by genetics and how much by their experiences. Researchers are trying to learn if certain interventions for dyscalculia can “rewire” a learner’s brain to make math easier. This concept is known as “neuroplasticity” and has been shown to work in people with dyslexia.

What Do I Do?

If during your tutoring sessions, you suspect that your learner may be suffering from dyscalculia, it is your responsibility to keep record of your tutee’s difficulties. You then need to communicate your thoughts to your learner’s parents. The learner’s parents should discuss any concerns with the learner’s teachers who will ascribe a school therapist or specialist. The specialist will ask you, the tutor, the parents and the teachers various questions as well as chat to the learner to discern whether the learner does in fact have dyscalculia or perhaps a different learning disability.

If your learner does have dyscalculia, there are many things that you can implement and do during your tutoring sessions to help him or her with their studies and academic outlook. Our next blog will list important hints and helpful tips to use during your tutoring sessions (or as a parent) J!

If you would like a tutor to assist your child or learner, contact BrightSparkz Tutors today!

Understanding Dyscalculia – Part 1

Despite the fact that Dyscalculia affects around 6% of the general population, many learners, tutors and educators are unfamiliar with the specifics. The next few blogs will cover some important aspects of dyscalculia, what is entails, the symptoms, the diagnosing of dyscalculia, various effects, and more. I hope you find this helpful!

What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects one’s ability to do mathematics and to grasp mathematical concepts. Learners with dyscalculia struggle to learn mathematics and to develop mathematical skills despite an adequate learning environment at home and at school. There are different severities of dyscalculia and learners will react or adapt to each differently. Some learners might work hard to memorise simple number facts. Other learners may know what to do but not understand the reason behind certain mathematical methods or steps. This is likely because learners with dyscalculia are not able to see the logic behind mathematics. Learners with less severe dyscalculia might understand the logic behind maths but are unsure how and when to apply their knowledge when solving mathematical problems.

Dyscalculia affects people throughout their lifespan. Children with dyscalculia tend to begin falling behind from as early as primary school. Oftentimes, learners may develop a strong dislike for mathematics as a result. Once learners reach secondary school, they usually struggle to pass maths and science subjects.

Warning Signs of Dyscalculia:

Dyscalculia comprises various types of mathematical difficulties. Your learner’s symptoms may not look exactly like those of another learner. Observing your learner and taking notes to share with teachers and doctors are good ways to find the most effective approaches and support for your learner. While the signs of dyscalculia look dissimilar at different ages, it does tend to become more apparent as kids get older but it can be detected as early as preschool. There is not sufficient research done on dyscalculia and so there is also no definitive list of symptoms and other than the obvious difficulty with mathematics, we know very little about what symptoms continue through to adolescence and adulthood. Because dyscalculia is best monitored and helped when spotted as early as possible, the following list has been comprised to help you identify any presently known symptoms:

Warning Signs in Preschool or Kindergarten

  • Has trouble learning to count, especially when it comes to assigning each object in a group a number
  • Has trouble recognizing number symbols, such as making the connection between “7” and the wordseven
  • Struggles to connect a number to a real-life situation, such as knowing that “3” can apply to any group that has three things in it; 3 cookies, 3 cars, 3 kids, etc.
  • Has trouble remembering numbers, skips numbers, or counts in the wrong order
  • Finds it hard to recognize patterns and to sort items by size, shape or colour
  • Avoids playing games that involve numbers, counting and other math concepts

Warning Signs in Grades 7 – 9:

  • Has trouble distinguishing numbers from symbols
  • Has trouble learning and remembering basic math facts, such as 2 + 4 = 6
  • Struggles to identify mathematical signs (+-) and use them correctly
  • May continue to use fingers to count instead of using more sophisticated strategies
  • Has trouble writing numerals clearly or putting them in the correct column
  • Has trouble coming up with a plan to solve a math problem
  • Struggles to understand words related to math, such asgreater than and less than
  • Has trouble telling left from his right, and even a poor sense of direction
  • Has difficulty remembering phone numbers and game scores
  • Avoids playing games that involve number strategies
  • Has trouble telling time 

Warning Signs in High School

  • Struggles to apply math concepts to everyday life, including monetary matters such as estimating the total cost, making exact change and figuring out a tip
  • Has trouble measuring things such as ingredients in a simple recipe
  • Struggles finding his or her way around and worries about getting lost
  • Has a hard time grasping information shown on graphs or charts
  • Has trouble finding and using different approaches to the same math problem
  • Learners may lack assurance in activities that entail estimating speed and distance, such as playing sports and learning to drive

 

The following are likely to be symptoms of dyscalculia:

  • Difficulty imagining a mental number line
  • Particular difficulty with subtraction
  • Difficulty using finger counting (slow, inaccurate, unable to immediately recognise finger configurations)
  • Difficulty decomposing numbers (e.g. recognizing that 10 is made up of 4 and 6)
  • Difficulty understanding place value
  • Trouble learning and understanding reasoning methods and multi-step calculation procedures
  • Anxiety about or a negative attitude towards maths (caused by the dyscalculia)

Now that you are aware of the many and varied symptoms of dyscalculia, it will be easy for you as a tutor to spot any correlations or learning disabilities should your learner ever have. If, during your tutoring sessions, you notice your learner experiencing difficulty, it is important that you keep a record and then speak to his or her parents about your concerns.

The next blog will briefly list how dyscalculia is diagnosed and discuss various other effects of dyscalculia. If you have any further information or experiences, please write in and let us fellow tutors know!

If you would like a tutor to assist your child or learner, contact BrightSparkz Tutors today!

Coping with and Helping Learners with ADHD

This blog recaps one of my previous about how to help learners with ADHD. This blog includes challenges posed for tutors and teachers who might have learners with ADHD as well as tips for tutors and learners who have ADHD.

ADHD can present the following challenges for tutors and teachers

  • Learners require more attention
  • Learners have trouble following instructions, especially when presented in a list
  • Learners often forget to write down homework assignments as well as completing given work
  • Learners may have trouble with operations that require ordered steps, such as long division
    or solving equations
  • Learners usually have problems with long-term projects where there is no direct supervision

ADHD can affect learners in the following ways:

  • Low grades
  • Teasing from peers
  • Low self-esteem.

So what can we do to help and aid these learners with their studies?

Patience, creativity and consistency are three of the most important aspects to take into consideration when tutoring or teaching learners with ADHD. As a tutor or teacher, our job is to evaluate each individual learner’s needs and strengths. We then need to develop our lessons and strategies in accordance with this.

Additionally, one of the most effective ways of helping learners with ADHD is maintaining a positive attitude. Make the learner your partner and say, “Let’s figure out ways together to help you get your work done.” Reassure the learner that you will be looking for good behaviour and quality work. When you see it, support it with prompt and sincere acclaim. Finally, look for ways to motivate a learner by offering rewards (such as a longer break or less homework).

Tips for the Learner:

  • Sit away from windows and doors so as to minimise distractions
  • Move while you work. Constantly moving can help you focus better on the task at hand
  • Concentrate on certain words! Studies show that repeating anchor words like “focus” can block distractions

Tips for the Tutor:

  • Give instructions one at a time and repeat whenever necessary
  • Signal the start of a lesson with a cue and in opening the lesson, tell the learner what he or she is going to learn and what your expectations are
  • Tell students exactly what materials they’ll need
  • Where possible, work on the most difficult material first. This can help to make the most of your session/lesson
  • Colour-code sections of material and make use of visuals!
  • Test the learner in the way he or she does best, such as orally or filling in blanks
  • Divide long-term projects into sections and assign a completion date/goal for each
  • Allow the learner to do as much work as possible on a computer
  • Make sure the learner has a system for writing down assignments and important dates and uses it!
  • Establish eye contact
  • Vary the pace and include different kinds of activities. Many students with ADD do well
    with competitive games or other activities that are rapid and intense
  • Allow for frequent (but short) breaks
  • Summarise the key points before finishing the lesson
  • Lastly, and most importantly – be patient and understanding

🙂

At BrightSparkz Tutors we provide excellent one-on-one tutoring for Maths, Science, English, Afrikaans and more… Get a tutor today!  Visit www.brightsparkz.co.za for more information.