How to ensure that your child is Big School ready

How did your little one get so big so quickly that the time to consider “Big School” is just around the corner?! And on this note, how do you know that your child is as prepared as possible to cope with the demands of big school?


There are several considerations to assess your child’s school readiness. These are:

  • Academic readiness
  • Physical (motor) skills
  • Social skills
  • Emotional maturity

All these aspects are extremely important in ensuring that your child does achieve their full potential.

Academic Readiness

Your child’s creche or nursery school should have taught them certain academic competencies. If your child didn’t attend a creche or nursery school, they  will need to catch up in Grade 1. 

Although the academic preparedness of new Grade Ones may differ according to their circumstances, the general expectation is that your child will have the following skills:

  • Recognize his/her written name
  • Can name and recognize colours
  • Speaks well enough to make him/herself understood
  • Able to participate in a conversation, taking turns to listen and speak
  • Able to follow basic instructions
  • Be able to count to at least 10
  • Can understand sorting and grouping
  • Knows and identifies shapes

Physical/Motor Skills

Certain fine- and gross-motor skills will allow your child to participate actively in the classroom, as well as keep up with their classmates during playtimes and breaks. These include: 

  • Be able to hold a pencil correctly and form basic letters and numbers
  • Goes to the bathroom by him/herself; has bladder control
  • Blows his/her own nose
  • Being able to kick and catch a ball
  • Washes own hands
  • Crosses midline
  • Copies patterns
  • Ties shoelaces

Social Skills

It’s important for your child to get along with others in a classroom environment. Does your child:

  • Share with others
  • Understand the concept of taking turns
  • Listen to others
  • Relate to peers and adults
  • Participate in activities with others 

Emotional Maturity

They’re getting so big, but is your child emotionally ready for big school? 

  • Can separate from their caregiver to participate in school
  • Shares the teacher’s attention with others
  • Shows empathy and understanding of the pain of others
  • Can work independently or in a group
  • Shows signs of persevering with tasks
  • No longer carries around a dummy or “blanky”


If your child displays most of the above, this is a good indication that they will be able to perform some of the important tasks at school and cope well enough not to be left behind their peers. 

Ready For Big School

Should you have concerns about whether or not your child will be able to cope well at school (or be on an equal footing with their peers), you can set up a meeting with the child’s Grade R teacher, or even an Educational Psychologist. These professionals will give you expert advice. 

BrightSparkz Tutors offers a 10-lesson program specifically for young learners called Little Sparkz. This school-readiness program will take your child through a variety of age-specific activities, ensuring they are able to meet the requirements to succeed in Big School. BrightSparkz offers this course with a qualified facilitator, or you can take your child through the materials and lessons yourself, or with the help of a nanny or au pair. 

It’s better for your child to repeat Grade R rather than starting school before they are ready. Starting school too early can be more stressful to your child in the long-term, causing stress and your child to  struggle to keep up with the required standard. This can lead to a loss of self-worth and confidence. 

Having your child repeat Grade R is often in the best interests of the child (especially those born in the second half of the year) to allow for maturity and coping in all aspects, and to prevent problems further along in their academic career. It is a decision not to be taken lightly due to the long-term outcomes, so it is best to consult with education experts before making your final decision. 

You know your child best, and with the help of their favourite Grade R teacher or an excellent educational psychologist, or maybe even a 10 week school-readiness course, you can make the best decision for your child’s future! It takes a village to raise a child, and the BrightSparkz village is here to help 🙂


Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

Ace Your Exams: 10 Study Tips

The formula for exam success lies in three key tactics – organisation, consistency and attitude. Find out how to ace your exams with our 10 study tips!

study tips

Key Tactic #1 Organisation

Planning well can decrease stress and reduce anxiety as you head into finals.

Tip #1 Exam Calendar

Once you have received your Exam Timetable from school, mark your exam dates on a dedicated Exam Calendar and stick it up on a wall where you can see it every morning when you wake-up.

Matrics can download their exam timetables here: IEB and NSC.

Tip #2 Daily Study Timetable

Break down chapters into small, bite-size sections. Alternate between hard and easy sections/subjects. 

You can study 2- 3 subjects a day, for example: Math in the morning, Life Science in the afternoon and a language in the evening. Study harder subjects or sections when your brain is most alert. If you’re a morning person – study math in the morning – vice versa if you’re a night owl.

Tip #3 Plan Wisely!

Make sure you give yourself enough time to study each section well. Otherwise, you will either fall behind your schedule or rush through your work – leaving you feeling anxious and ill-prepared.

Plan your studying so that you finish learning 2-3 days before an exam, this will give you time to revise and practice using old question papers. If you finish with extra time – BONUS! Use the extra time as a mini-revision session. Don’t waste any of your valuable study time.

Also plan around family/friends social events that happen during the exams, e.g. birthdays. Either use these days as revision days (if the event is only for a couple of hours) or if the occasion is all day, mark it as a rest day.

Tip #4 It’s Better To Be Over-Prepared

Being over-prepared will leave you feeling relaxed and more confident before an exam. This positivity boost will calm your nerves and will help prevent those moments when your brain goes blank (find out what to do if you blank out during exams).

All this planning will require some time to setup and organise your study timetable. Ensure you allocate a day to plan out your Daily Study Timetable. You can find a video on how to set up your Daily Study Timetable here

Key Tactic # 2 Consistency

To be consistent requires discipline and dedication to your goals. Hard work will always pay off. 

Tip #5 Remove Any Distractions

 Switch of your cell phone, or leave it in another room if you will be tempted to check it. Put away any books and PC/Xbox/PS games. Clear your desk or study area of any mess or unnecessary things. Set out the stationery and books you need for the specific subject you are going to study first.

Tip #6 Alarms Are Your Best Friend

Use an alarm for ending study sessions and breaks – use an egg-time or digital timer. DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE. It will be a distraction. 

Do 2-3 study cycles of 30-45 minutes sessions with a 10-15 minute break. Then take a longer break for meal times. Find out why study breaks are important

Tip #7 Healthy Diet

With all this studying you will need to fuel your brain and your body to fight off brain-fog and tiredness. At meal times always eat a well-balanced meal of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, to give your body long-lasting energy throughout the day (find out our tips for brain foods here). 

If you experience fatigue and cravings, have a healthy snack during your short breaks. For sweet cravings eat fresh fruit, yoghurt, raisins or dried fruit. For salty cravings eat peanuts/nuts and raisins, biltong or salty popcorn. Try to avoid eating sweets and chocolates, as they cause a ‘sugar-rush’ for a short moment and then a ‘dip’, which will leave you feeling tired and unable to concentrate.

Drink lots of fluids, like water and fruit juice, while studying. Limit your coffee and caffinated tea to 2-3 cups a day. DO NOT have energy drinks – they have the same effect as sweets, and will leave you feeling worse than when you started.

Tip #8 Exercise Regularly

Remember to get some form of physical activity daily. Our bodies were not meant for sitting for long periods of time.  EVen just getting up to stretch or walk around during your breaks will help. 

There is no need to stop your sports during exams – just don’t train intensely and use up all your energy, or otherwise you will be too tired to study. You can fit in running/swimming/cycling/gym, etc. as a longer study break. 

Tip #9 Get Some Sleep

Keeping a consistent sleeping pattern is so important. It will keep you feeling refreshed and prevent brain-fog.

Go to sleep at the same time every night – including weekends! EVEN if there is a social event – ask your parents to fetch you early, and wake up the same time every morning – even on weekends. Discipline and dedication to your studies is vital, and it includes your sleep!

Key Tactic #3 Attitude

Your attitude will be the defining point between your success and failure. 

Ensure your ultimate goal is well defined before your exams start. This is your ‘WHY’ and it can be your dream career/job/lifestyle or simply a mark you would like to achieve.  Knowing why you have to do something (like studying for exams and passing them) will be the driving force that will keep you motivated and get you through your exams. If you don’t have something to work towards, you will run out of steam quickly and you won’t have anything to motivate you to push through the hard times.

Tip #10 Find Your ‘WHY’!

Decide what your ultimate goal is – why you want to do well in these exams. Don’t allow others to define your goals for you – you will lose your motivation and driving force. Know WHAT you want to achieve for each exam. Know HOW to achieve each goal. Know WHY you want to achieve each goal. Now, use these study tips to GO FOR IT!


Written by Sarita Downing, BrightSparkz Tutor & Blog Writer

Tutor of the Month: October 2019

Miguel F. is our October 2019 Tutor of the Month!

Miguel is one of our newest tutors – he’s been with us since August 2019, and has already impressed us and his clients! He has tutored more than 30 hours, focusing in school-level Maths. 
Miguel is an analytical, well-spoken and friendly tutor. Some of his recent achievements include representing South Africa in basketball at the CUCSA games and winning gold in 2018, as well as being voted the MVP at the national varsity championship also in 2018. He also takes great pride in having graduating successfully from his Bachelor of Commerce degree. During his spare time, Miguel enjoys playing basketball, reading, chess, politics, running and coaching. He is all about helping his students to reach their full potential. Miguel is an awesome tutor to place because he is responsive, always willing to assist at the last minute and a pleasure to work with!
Thank you for your hard work, Miguel. We’re so happy to have a tutor like you on our Joburg team!