Tips to prepare your child for the new school year

The long summer holidays are over with and your children are back at school. The morning traffic has picked up again, and your family is getting back into routine. Normally, this happens without too much trouble, but some children can take a little longer to get back into routine.

Tips to prepare for the new school term

Here are some tips to prepare your child for the new term!

  • Waking up early is one of the things children dislike most about going back to school. If your child is resistant to waking up for school, try waking them up about 15 minutes earlier than they need to get up. That way, when they dawdle and you go in 15 minutes later, they will feel like they’ve had a lie-in.
  • You will also need to put stricter bedtime rules back into play. Your children have probably become used to later bedtimes in the holidays. They will need to get back into a school routine. If you are not strict about this, your children will be tired at school, and be unable to concentrate.
  • Ensure that your child has all the resources that they need for school. Most schools give out a stationery and book list at the end of the year for the new year. Check the existing stationery – some items may be in perfect condition and purchasing new items may not be necessary. If you normally buy new stationery every year anyway, consider donating the items from the previous year to a less-privileged school.  
  • Check that school uniforms fit well. Children grow very quickly, and it is not uncommon for last years’ school trousers to be halfway up their legs, or the school skirt is suddenly way too short!
  • Ensure that you have lunchboxes and healthy food choices available for your child’s school breaks. It is preferable not to supply tuckshop money every day in place of providing a healthy lunch. Your child will not get the nutrients they need. Tuckshop money should be a treat, given no more than once or twice per week.
  • Help your children (if they are young), to pack their school bags the night before, or encourage older children to do the same. This eliminates the inevitable morning rush and all the stress it entails.
  • Put a copy of their timetable, including extra-murals, on the fridge so that the correct books and sports equipment can be packed.
  • If your child is stressed about keeping up at school, or you notice early signs of struggling, act quickly and hire a private tutor for your child. In the higher grades, your child may benefit greatly from a specialist maths or science tutor.
  • Make sure your child has a quiet place to study and do their homework. If your child seems to be struggling with studying, or not enjoying their subjects, a Study Skills Crash Course is a great solution! If exams stress them out, they may need a reader or scribe.
  • Communicate with your children daily. This prevents issues from coming into their lives which you know nothing about and which cause great problems later, such as bullying, failing a school subject or problems with friends. Your involvement in your children’s lives will help to create a happy, successful school year where they flourish and develop at an optimal level.

Written by: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

Do I need a TUTOR or an AU PAIR?

What is the difference between a tutor and an au pair?

With the hectic pace of today’s life, many parents find that they need assistance with their children to some degree. You may find that there is too much day left at the end of your energy. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at the end of a busy day. Especially if this is when your children need attention or help with their schoolwork! You may not feel equipped to help with schoolwork, especially with children in high school. You have heard the words tutor and au pair, but aren’t sure which one would best suit your specific needs and schedule.

To help you decide, here is an overview of the main differences between a tutor and an au pair:

What is a Tutor?

A tutor is an individual who assists with specific academic support. Tutors are typically well educated, and usually studying at tertiary institutions. Tutors are also sometimes working individuals who enjoy sharing knowledge with younger learners in their spare time. At the very least, tutors would have successfully completed Grade 12 with great results.

Childcare tutor vs au pair

A tutor can also be described as follows:

  • A tutor should also be able to teach or convey information in a meaningful way. Just achieving brilliant academic results is not enough. They should have superior or expert knowledge in the subjects they tutor.  
  • A good tutor will also be easy to relate to, preferably with a calm and patient demeanour, especially if they are tutoring younger learners. They should have good communication skills and be easy to understand.
  • An understanding of learning styles and methods is beneficial to a tutor. This allows them to tutor different individuals in ways that are meaningful to them, and assist with study skills that a learner can relate to for the subject they tutor. BrightSparkz Tutors provides a learning styles assessment to all new clients. 
  • A tutor is a successful individual who has ambition and they often have drive and determination to achieve their goals. As such, they make good mentors to the learners they tutor, as they provide inspiration, motivation and encouragement.
  • Usually the tutor will come to your home at times suitable to you, so there is no driving around like you would when transporting your children to extra lessons. A private tutor will spend an hour or two of focused time with the learner where knowledge is passed over, and usually a tutoring relationship is one-on-one. The tutor will prepare lessons according to the school syllabus. Assisting the learner to achieve better academic results is their major focus.

How a tutor can help you:

  • If your children require assistance to improve their grades, and you do not need childcare services other than academic support, at home tutoring is a great option for you. BrightSparkz Tutors offers hand-picked tutors who have been screened and interviewed and are able to deliver a high-quality service to you. A specialist maths tutor, science tutor or Afrikaans tutor may be just what your child needs to move to the next level of academic achievement.
  • Perhaps your child has always struggled to learn Afrikaans? We offer an excellent Afrikaans Boot Camp which will teach your child in a fun way, and improve their confidence levels enormously!
  • Does your child have special needs or some barrier to learning? Do they qualify for a reader or scribe? We can help! We offer trained concessions facilitators as one of our services.

What is an Au Pair?

An au pair should be considered if you require childcare services other than academic support. The duties carried out by au pairs may differ widely depending on requirements. In general au pairs will transport children to and from school, arrange their lunch and / or snacks, supervise homework and help with projects. Au pairs may also transport children to and from extra mural activities. They may also care for children until their parents arrive home from work, and assist with bath and dinner routines.

Childcare au pair vs tutor

Some other relevant information pertaining to au pairs may include:

  • An au pair may tutor as well as supervise homework. Not all au pairs have tertiary education, or are academically inclined, so may not be equipped to fill the role of a tutor. (It is recommended to have subject-specific tutoring once or twice per week for academic improvement to occur).
  • Often an au pair may have too many other duties to perform to focus solely on academics. They may be busy with more than one child simultaneously. Au pairs often need childcare experience. This is not necessary for a tutor. 
  • You may need an au pair if:
    • Childcare duties are your primary concern
    • You need assistance with more than one child at the same time daily
    • Your child/children need supervision for several hours a day
    • Transport to and from extramural activities is one of your requirements.

Should you need someone to perform childcare duties in addition to delivering specialist, focused education services, you may wish to use the services of both an au pair and a tutor. If you’re still not sure if a tutor or an au pair would be the best fit for you, get in touch with us! One of our consultants will gladly assist.

If you would like to get your own amazing tutor, get in touch with us! BrightSparkz Tutors does not provide au pairs. 

Written by: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

Tutor Of The Month: Tayla Booyse

Tayla Booyse Tutor of the Month

Tayla is our January 2018 Tutor of the Month!

Tayla matriculated from Brescia House in 2013 with outstanding results, including 4 distinctions. She is currently in her 4th year at Wits University, studying Speech Pathology and Audiology and will be doing her community service this year. Tayla has been tutoring for BrightSparkz since 2014 and is one of our trained Afrikaans Boot Camp tutors. She is a reliable, kind, patient and hard-working tutor who has a passion for helping others. She is always willing to help and enjoys going the extra mile for her learners and clients. Over the past year, she has worked with over ten clients (Afrikaans Boot Camp and tutoring clients) and has always received amazing and positive feedback for all her lessons. She is an exceptional tutor and we are so proud and thankful for having her as part of our team.

What some of Tayla’s clients have to say about her: “My son was positive after the session. Tayla seemed very patient with Cameron.”

Thank you for your passion and effort as a BrightSparkz Tutor and Afrikaans Boot Camp trainer, Tayla!

To get your amazing tutor, click here. To find out more about our Afrikaans Boot Camp, click here.