Home-School Tutoring Pros and Cons

The debates surrounding the pros and cons of home-schooling are endless. There seems to be a limitless supply of studies and research done on the matter. I’ve put together some background knowledge and important information about home-schooling in South Africa; a brief analysis of some of the most important factors to think about when considering whether to home-school your children, as well as an short pros and cons list for easy reading.

 

Some Background and NB Information on Home-Schooling in South Africa:

Home-schooling is considered under section 51 of the South African School Act. The Act states that, “A parent may apply to the Head of the Department for the registration of a learner to receive education at the learner’s home.” It is stipulated that a “learner may be registered for education at home if the provincial Head of the Department” is satisfied that registration will be “in the child’s best interest, that the minimum requirements of the curriculum in public schools will be met and that the standard of the home education will at least match that of public schools”. Home-schooling is accepted as a valid schooling option in South Africa. This said; the Head of the Education Department is given discretionary jurisdiction thereof.

Studies by Colfax and Colfax in 1988 founded criticisms against conventional schooling included: “anti-intellectualism, conformity, passivity, rigidity, disorganisation, over-socialising, under-socialising, and testing too often, testing too seldom, failing to acknowledge differences” and “course content”.

 

Other reasons parents may decide to home-school their children include:

  • Physical disabilities may not always be catered for in public schools
  • Learning disabilities or special needs exceeding that available at public schools
  • The increasing cost of school fees
  • The large student-to-teacher ratio in schools
  • The declining standards of public education
  • A possible lack of classroom education
  • Violence and peer pressure in schools
  • Religious reasons
  • Difficulties experienced by groups who are unable to deal with multiculturalism in schools

 

A Brief on Some of the Major Debates Surrounding Home-Schooling:

One of the biggest reasons advocating for home-schooling is that each learner grows and develops at different stages and in different ways depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels. One benefit to home-school tutoring is that each learner has access to an education ‘system’ that is tailored to his or her learning pace and needs. This educational freedom applies to parents as well as learners. Parent’s lives no longer exist according homework, school hours and the school calendar. Home-schooling thus enables both parents and learners to set school hours according to their individual needs and wants.

There is also more personal and learning time for home-schooled learners than when attending conventional schools. This is due to a variety of reasons such as less time spent getting properly dressed for school and driving times to and from school and school activities. Additionally, a typical classroom lesson is 45minutes. Another 15 minutes between each lesson is for walking to and from different classrooms, bathroom breaks and getting settled for each following lesson. With home-school tutoring, this time is saved. This means more time for rest and relaxation!

Another problem facing almost any school is peer pressure and bullying. Studies show that, for some learners, bullying and the like can have devastating and even long-term effects. Some findings concluded that self-esteem is more likely to remain intact among home-schooled learners. One counter argument to this notion though is that public schools, through peer pressure and bullying, better equips learners for the harsh realities of the ‘real world’. Some studies even go so far as to suggest that peer pressure and bullying teaches young learners to build character and become emotionally more adept.

Furthermore, one conception is that home schooling provides learners with a better sense of reality in that they are not dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. Home schooled learners have more freedom of expression in their dress and physical appearance. But, can the same be said for freedom of thought? There is no one answer to this question. Certain households place greater emphasis on religious beliefs, tradition and familial ideals. Many families feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of who they are and home-schooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daily lives. However, there are others who question whether public schools, through exposure to different beliefs, traditions and ideals allow for greater freedom of thought than through familial learning environments.

There are many points to deliberate when considering any means of education. Ultimately, it is up to you and your learner and depends on you as an individual.

 

In the meantime, here is a short pros and cons list:

Pros:

  • You are able to decide what, how and when your child learns something
  • You are able to make learning more exciting according to your child’s interests
  • You are able to give your child in depth assistance and personal attention according to his or her strengths and struggles
  • You are able to create weekly schedules and school outings without the constraints of a traditional learning environment
  • You are able to pass on your values and beliefs to your children and answer any questions that they might have
  • You are able to protect your children from the bullying and peer pressure that is so often a daily struggle in traditional school environments
  • You are able to create a more effective learning environment by teaching one-on-one
  • You are able to nurture your child’s natural talents and abilities
  • You are able to address important and personal issues with your children when you feel that they are ready

Cons:

-You may have to:

  • Spend 24 hours a day with your children which may not be ideal for you and your family
  • Validate home-schooling to friends and family who may not agree with your decision
  • Spend a greater deal of money on education than previously accustomed
  • Put in more effort to find friends with whom your children can share meaningful and quality friendships
  • Deal with arguments between siblings if you are home-schooling more than one of your children. Making time to home-school more than one learner may also be challenging if they are each in different grades and learn at a different pace.
  • Parent’s loss of income because he or she has to be home to fulfil the role of an educator

If you require further information or would like a home-school tutor to assist your child please contact BrightSparkz Tutors by visiting their site www.brightsparkz.co.za

Hope this helps

and

Happy learning

Are You Rewriting Your Matric Exams

Are you unhappy with your matric results? Are you stressing about college and university acceptance? You do have options!

If you have failed only one or two subjects, then writing the supplementary examinations is an option for you. Matric rewrites are a popular choice for many learners because you are able to rewrite only those subjects you are unhappy with or need to improve in order to gain varsity acceptance.

If you think that rewrites may be an option for you then check your local newspapers, the internet and schools for the application deadline dates as each one is different.  The rewrite exam timetable can be obtained from the Provincial Education Department head office or from your school. The examinations will be offered from May/June 2015. All learners who wish to rewrite should visit their school or nearest office of the Department of Education to register and make sure that they qualify for rewrites.

Should you have any queries, you can contact the office via www.education.gov.za or info@dbe.gov.za  or call 0800 202 933.

If you do not qualify for a particular department at a particular institution because your matric results are too low, there are a number of bridging courses that institutions offer which allow someone into his or her desired field. Visit the FirstStep.me higher education directory for various institutions. The best idea would be to contact the South African Department of Basic Education, as they should be able to provide a list of establishments whereby you can improve your matric with more specific details.

The best option for you depends on your results, your further education plans and the marks that you hope to achieve. Whichever option you decide, BrightSparkz Tutors is here to help! Brightsparkz Tutors sends only the most educated and best-suited tutors to you and can assist you in preparing for your rewrite exams. Our tutors are reliable, efficient and best of all, fun! We make learning easier, quicker and more enjoyable. Visit www.brightsparkz.co.za to book your exam rewrite tutor today!

So shed some stress as we shed some light

Tutor Tips: How to Sharpen Your Mind

Keeping the mind focused and attuned to what you are supposed to be focused on can be challenging! This is especially applicable for those of us who have busy schedules and who are in the middle of exams. Knowing the trivialities of distraction and procrastination; here is a list of ways to help you sharpen your mind:

  • Stay Active – Research shows that the more active you are; the better you are at retaining information and the less likely you are to suffer from memory loss as you get older. This doesn’t mean that you need to be at the gym every day. Instead, consider taking a daily walk or a different route to work or school in order to keep your mind and body active and engaged.
  • Break Things Up! – It is easier to memorize larger topics in parts. Once you are used to remembering smaller sections of information, you can start processing bigger chunks as you go along. This way you will get used to retaining more information each time.
  • Keep Things Organized – It’s difficult to remember things if your surroundings are disorganised. Take the time to organise your studies and study environment because the brain will then be able to sort what you study in a similar way as to how you organized it in the physical space
  • Visualize – Some studies suggest that it helps to visualize what it is you want to remember. The brain works by creating visuals of things. For example, when you read the word “dog” your brain doesn’t conjure up an image of the letters d-o-g, but rather the word invokes images of what a dog is. Rather than trying to get your brain to remember random symbols, attach the meaning of those symbols to visual cues and concepts that are easier to remember.
  • Use Associations – The brain works by building a large network of associations. That’s why there are certain words, phrases, and images that automatically make us link and remember certain things. If you want to remember someone’s name (especially in history), it’s good to build a memory association around it. That way all you have to do is remember the association, and the name should pop up along with it.
  • Use Mnemonics – This involves using phrases like Never Eat Silk Worms to remember the order of compass directions; N (North) E (East) S (SOUTH) and W (West). Mnemonics provide clues about what you’re trying to remember. If you have to remember a list of random items, it may be easier to establish a mnemonic in order to keep it organized and help you remember the first letter of each item on that list.
  • Rehearse and Rephrase – Rehearsing what you need to remember is a great way to commit it to memory. This will add repetition; and tutors, this is especially helpful for younger learners! Rephrase large sections of information into a short story or rhyme to help your learners remember information in a fun way.
  • Use Gestures – When you use or make gestures such as tapping, clapping, snapping, and others in conjunction with what you’re trying to remember, it commits this information to your muscle memory.
  • Say it Loud – Saying what you want to remember aloud helps you to remember things better and to recall it later. People have an aural memory when hearing what is spoken. This engages a different part of your brain, which can be beneficial to the process of recalling what it is you need.
  • Lastly, stay hydrated and feed your brain – Water, water, water! And remember the food you eat has a direct effect on your brain, which is why it’s essential to eat foods that contain the proper antioxidants for brain health.

 

Written by Kristin Naude of BrightSparkz Tutors – English and Maths Tutor

Tutoring Learners with Dyslexia

In order to really help learners’ with dyslexia, you need to understand what exactly dyslexia is. Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes an individual to struggle with reading and writing. It can also affect other areas of a person’s life such as with memory skills, focusing and organization. When you understand how to teach a learner with dyslexia, you can help to improve their self-awareness as well as their cognitive skills by using teaching methods that include a multi-sensory approach. This can help them, not only in the classroom, but in other areas of their lives as well. Learners with dyslexia differ significantly in their ability to give oral presentations, partake in discussions, write letters, numbers, and paragraphs, spelling and have difficulty working in noisy or disorderly settings.

The following tips may help to improve your tutoring as well as their performance:

If you are helping the learner with a project – Outline the task before you start.  Think it through and figure out what steps to take, what is needed and how much time it will take to complete. Break a big project up into smaller and less intimidating sections.  Prioritise the work, not only by what is due, but also by what requires more or less time.

During a lesson:

  • Provide step-by-step instructions
  • Arrange work from the easiest to the hardest. Early success keeps learners motivated to work!
  • Present new or difficult information in small parts and complete each section in steps
  • A regular review of previous lessons can help learners connect new and old information
  • Don’t fall into the ‘no homework’ trap.  Instead, use any free time to do revision or begin work that is due later
  • Oftentimes, asking the learner to repeat directions and information in their own words can help them understand what is required of them. This is also a vital part for recalling information at a later stage when you are not necessarily there to assist
  • Combine verbal and visual information. Studies show that dyslexic learners are more likely to understand and retain visual information than information that is verbal or written
  • Use visual prompts. Put symbols or bullets next to questions or activities that are worth more marks. This helps learners to spend the right amount of time on each question
  • For learners who have difficulty with handwriting, the response mode should be changed to include a variety of answering methods such as underlining, selecting from multiple choices, sorting, or marking
  • Reduce the amount of copying. Instead, ask the learner to repeat what has been read or heard in his or her own words
  • Have learners turn lined paper vertically for math. This helps to keep numbers in the appropriate columns

Lastly, patience and encouragement is key! Build up a level of communication between you and your learner to improve your understanding of one another. Communication and understanding will provide much-needed encouragement, increase work performance and to get the most out of your lessons together.

Do you have any thoughts or tips to share when tutoring a learner with Dyslexia?

Written By Kristin Naude – Brightsparkz Tutor – Maths Literacy, English and Business Studies Tutor

Tutor Tips – How to Make the Most of Your Tutoring Session

How to Make the Most of Your Tutoring Sessions:

As tutors, we are accustomed to the individual needs of each learner. We know that each learner understands and retains information in unique ways. As such, it is important to know how to make the most of each tutoring session. In this way, we are able to get the most use of the time provided, for the learner as well as ourselves.

Prior to the first session, the following checklist can be helpful:
• Arrange a meeting with the learner’s parent(s) to determine the goals of the learner and the parents
• Find out why the learner requires a tutor
• Become familiar with the learner’s interests
• Diagnose the learner’s difficulties (if any)

Having a lesson plan and goals can be vital for saving time and making the most of each session:
• Set goals for the session based on the learner’s development
• Create an instructional lesson
• Provide resource materials and exercises
• Construct a review activity to check on goals achieved and previously taught work
• Construct a suitable set of exercises (homework) for the student to complete before the next tutoring session

When conducting the lesson:
• Be on time!
• Create a positive environment for you and the learner
• Sit beside the learner and not across
• Start with a review of the objectives and go over information from previous sessions
• Discuss the lesson plan and then involve the learner as soon as possible
• When checking work, let the learner make the corrections with your guidance. Avoid answering for the learner wherever possible
• Listen carefully to the learner’s explanations and responses
• Keep your learner informed about his or her progress during the session and regularly make sure that the learner understands what you are teaching
• Making the lesson fun will improve learner involvement and promote learning
• End the tutoring session on a positive note!
If you have any further suggestions or would like to add some information on feel free to leave a comment below.

Written by Kristin Naude – BrightSparkz Maths and English Tutor

There are many companies with very professional and helpful tutors. So why should you choose BrightSparkz?

Many learners struggle to find a method of studying that works for them. This is one reason why it is important to find the most suitable tutor for each learner’s individual needs. Our tutors take each learner’s unique background, personality, and goals into consideration, in order to structure effective tutoring sessions. Some of our key methods include identifying the ‘gaps’ and filling in the basics of the subject that may have been missed in earlier years whilst still taking a fun and purposeful approach to the subject in order to promote a positive attitude towards it. Maths and Science tutor, Hloni, says her secret weapon is to “make lessons fun so that you and the learner are enjoying the content you are covering.”
Katleho admits he “wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea” of getting a tutor but that it is “way better than I thought.” He says, “I don’t know where BrightSparkz are getting their tutors, but they are somehow able to make schoolwork enjoyable”.

Through years of experience in home tuition, we have discovered that one-on-one lessons with a passionate, knowledgeable, and patient tutor, brings back new interest into ‘boring’ subjects, creates opportunities to ask questions freely, and positively changes attitudes towards learning. As English, Afrikaans and Xhosa tutor, Ulricke, says, “Every problem or challenge will always be accompanied with a learning opportunity.”

Western Cape Education Department Aims High

The Western Cape is hopeful to increase its level of matric passes this year, aiming for a pass rate of at least 75%. Helen Zille and her education MEC, Debbie Schafer, say it is important to look at the retention rate of Grade 10 pupils in order to arrive at the ‘real’ matric pass rate. The province’s retention rate for Grade 10 to 12 has improved from 53.1% in 2009 to 63.5% in 2014. Last year 85.1% of pupils in the Western Cape attained their national senior certificate.

The province is aiming to reach a target of 43 000 passes this year as compared to the 40 558 in 2013. At this point, just below 50 000 full-time pupils are registered to write their final exams. “The Western Cape education department will continue to assist learners in the remaining 42 days with intensive support to schools,” says Zille.

Additionally, the Western Cape is hoping to maintain a target of 40% of pupils achieving access to education at a tertiary level. The South African government says they are committed to increasing the numbers of honours graduates to more than 75 000, masters’ graduates to more than 17 000, and doctoral graduates to more than 5 000, by the end of 2014. Unfortunately, the challenge in fully meeting these targets “is that the production of these skills is threatened by an ageing lecturing workforce at higher education institutions,” says Zuma. “One fifth of academics will retire within a decade, and many of these are professors”. This means the most experienced of academics “will be leaving higher education”. South Africa needs to produce more graduates entering the education field and so we need to make academia more “exciting for our youth”.

Written by Kristin Naude
BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

BrightSparkz Tutors – Simple Tips To Help Beat Your Exams

It can be difficult to concentrate and study, especially when our brains take in about 11 million bits of information per second! If you struggle to concentrate and stay focused on your studies, the following tips can be helpful:

Study Tips:

  • Keep two to-do lists: One to-do list for everything you need to do. Keep this list away when you are studying. The second to-do list should only contain the three items you are going to complete next; nothing goes on this list unless something else comes off!
  • Make a study timetable: Ask your BrightSparkz tutor to help you set up a timetable that fits in with your specific schedule and needs.
  • Find a suitable study environment and stay away from your cellphone!
  • Set study goals: What do you want to achieve? Now do it!
  • Reward yourself: Set a goal for how much work you will learn in a specified amount of time. When you have achieved this goal, reward yourself with something you enjoy.
  • Learn to say no: Even though seeing your friends is more enjoyable, a holiday spent with your friends while knowing you achieved good results is even better!
  • Post-Its: Stick them around your room to remind you of your priorities or even use them to remember those important points for a test!

Foods that help you concentrate:

  • Nuts with dark chocolate: Nuts and seeds are natural vitamin E antioxidants and lessen cognitive decline as we age. Dark chocolate also contains caffeine to enhance focus.
  • Avocadoes and whole grains: This helps with blood flow, which helps when you are stuck studying for extended periods.
  • Fish: Many refer to it as brain food
  • Blueberries: Are very nutritious and studies show that they can help improve learning and muscle function.
  • Water: Your body becomes tired and dehydrated when you do not drink enough water. This makes you lose focus and to become tired. Keep a bottle of water next to you when you study.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

 

Do you have any good tips you would like to add?  Feel free to add your comment!

Good luck and have fun

The need for home tutors in South Africa

According to the 2014 Global Information Technology Report, under the sub-category, ‘skills’, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education comes in last place. South Africa fares behind the likes of Haiti, Lesotho, Chad, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya. Worse still, according to the World Economic Forum report, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education places it last out of 148 countries.

Democratic Alliance education spokesperson Annette Lovemore said, the ministerial report exposes “gaping holes at every level of our education system.” The national education strategy is considered outdated; there is a major shortage of qualified teachers and, those who are qualified have been negatively affected by the curriculum changes over the last 10 years.

With a rise in unemployment, an increase in occupational requirements coupled with international competition and limited space for further study; a “quality education” is now, more than ever, “a crucial necessity for creating more globally competitive young adults, much-needed jobs and entrepreneurs,” says Lovemore.

So how do we as South Africans, or better yet, as students, move past and succeed in a country whose educational system and standards appear almost dismal?

I have been tutoring for 3 years and I cannot help but notice the dwindling amount of importance and enthusiasm some learners place on their education. Some of my learners receive exam notes that are so poorly printed even I cannot make out the words. If teachers (certainly not all) do not care enough to equip learners with the requirements to pass, how can we as parents or educators blame them?

Brightsparkz tutors employ only the best tutors to help fill any gaps and difficulties that your learner may be experiencing. By selecting the best tutor for the learner’s specific needs, BrightSparkz Tutors help them gain a greater level of enthusiasm for their education which is the first step in achieving academic success.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

Tutor Tips for You These Holidays

With April holidays just around on the corner, we can all (tutors and learners) have the much needed break that we deserve. For the matrics it’s the last non-studying holiday for the year (although you really should use this time to make sure you understand everything you have done so far – and if you don’t understand, be sure to ask your tutor for some holiday help.) and for the rest of us, it’s a chance to appreciate waking up a bit later and to soak up the last few days of warmth.

Holidays are also an excellent time to reflect on the work we have done so far. To be honest about our strengths and our weaknesses and to think about how we can improve next term.

Perhaps your first term report wasn’t as good as you had hoped?  Here are some tips on how to use these holidays to improve before (gasp!) exams next term:

1)      If there is a Maths sum that you don’t quite understand, try to explain what you think the steps are to your Maths tutor. Sometimes explaining something to someone else can help you realise that you understand more than you thought.

2)      English essays are a great way to improve your English mark – but many people lose out on a good percentage because of simple spelling mistakes. The best way to improve your writing is to read. Find a topic that interests you, and read as much as you can about it. If you aren’t sure, ask your tutor to make some recommendations, or chat to us on our Facebook wall and we’ll help you find something you will love!

3)      The spelling mistakes I was talking about above? Here is a list of words that are most commonly misspelled. Learn them!

–         their (and the difference between there, they’re and their!)

–         a lot

–         received

–         separate

–         until

–         because

–         beginning

–         different

–         occurred

–         believe

–         which

–         truly

–         really

–         definitely

4)      Do a Science experiment for someone younger than you. It can be something simple – like showing a young child how to make different colours by mixing food colouring, or something more complicated – like illustrating how Newton’s Laws work. Either way, showing someone something new will not only help them, but help you realise how interesting and relevant science really is.

5)      Learn something new. Ask your Biology or History tutor for some more information about a topic that you find interesting. Find a tutorial on how to make an origami flower. Learn the name (Latin and common) of trees you drive past everyday. Learn how to play Sudoku. Learn ANYTHING. Just use your brain – appreciate how much it can do, and you’ll be amazed at how much you are capable of knowing.

6)      Clean your room! An unorganised desk is the sign of an unorganised mind.

7)      Exercise. A healthy body will improve brain functionality – give you endorphins (happy hormones!) and give you more energy.

 

I hope that everyone has a happy, safe and restful holiday.

Charlie-Brown