BrightSparkz Superwomen

BrightSparkz was established in 2007 by 3 university students who saw a need for private tutoring. 12 years later, BrightSparkz has branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and offers online tutoring countrywide. From offering tutoring for a few school subjects, BrightSparkz now offers tutoring for all school and university subjects, adult languages, Language Boot Camps (Afrikaans, Zulu, French and more in the pipeline), Concessions Facilitators (readers, scribes, prompters and invigilators), a Study Skills Crash Course, location tutoring and childminding on film sets, and more!

The directors, Amy Stockwell and Dominique Oebell, are women with a big plan: to be recognised by schools, universities, parents, and students across South Africa as the “go-to” and “gold standard” for quality tutoring and learning support, and as the learning company that has provided the most amazing opportunities for learners, tutors, and edu-professionals.

In support of this goal, they have launched Project 10 000. This project is committed to donating 10 000 tutoring hours to learners who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford educational support, over 3 years.

In addition to this, BrightSparkz is a certified Level 4 BEE contributor, and is committed to improving opportunities for young women in South Africa.

How we’re making a difference to women

  • 70% of BrightSparkz tutors and concessions facilitators readers and scribes) are women, most of them still in university
  • 100% of BrightSparkz permanent staff are women, and 86% of these are young women (under the age of 40)
  • BrightSparkz is also 100% female-owned – read more about the Brains Behind BrightSparkz here
  • We place a large focus on tutoring STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and recruits female tutors in these fields to tutor and act as mentors for younger learners (read more about STEM here)
  • BrightSparkz is also committed to recognizing the differences in the difficulties faced by our male and female students (read more on how ADD/ADHD affects girl students differently here)
  • For the last few years, BrightSparkz has been partnered with several foundations that provide sponsored tutoring to female students exclusively
  • Approximately 70% of our Project 10 000 sponsored learners are female!

If you would like to find out more about our fantastic tutors, or would like to request your own BrightSparkz Superwoman tutor, get in touch with us today!

women

Written by Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Staff & Occasional Blog Contributor

Blanking Out During Exams

What to do when you blank out in an examination

Blanking out in an exam, whether it happens once or every time you face a test situation, is an unnerving and frustrating experience.

Usually exam stress and blanking out is caused by anxiety. There is a great deal of pressure to perform well in exams and a lot of fear that if you don’t it will affect your future negatively, especially if it is school-leaving exams. Even for younger learners, they may fear disappointing their parents or even being punished if they do not produce good results.

What you can do before an exam to reduce the chances of blanking out or freezing:

  1. Prepare well

Study the content you need to study for the exam. Pay attention in class and listen for any clues the teacher may give such as tips on the sorts of questions which are often asked. Ask your teacher if there are any areas to concentrate on or spend time preparing. Do the work. Practise and do examples and past papers where possible.

If you are struggling in a particular subject, engage the services of a hand-picked tutor who will assist you to catch up or help you close any gaps in your knowledge and give you other perspectives.

If you fear that you are studying incorrectly or that you don’t know how to study correctly, consider investing in a study skills crash course which will greatly build your confidence and reduce your stress.

2. Prepare emotionally

In addition to academic preparation, it may be helpful to prepare emotionally, particularly for subjects that you do not feel very confident in. Picture yourself going into the examination, being calm, reading through the paper and tackling the questions you know. Realize that if you do your absolute best, that is all anyone can ask of you. Realize that even if you don’t do as well as you would like, it is not a matter of life and death. Think of possible contingency plans if you do not do as well as you wanted to – this will help you to feel that you still have some control.

3. Prepare an exam strategy

The Study Skills Crash Course will help you with this. In general, some good tips are: read the paper carefully, answer the questions you know beforehand, and if you have time at the end, read over your answers.

4. Physical preparation

Make sure you get enough rest, do some physical exercise, eat good food which stimulates concentration (like fish), and cut down on junk food and sugar.

5. Organize examination concessions assistance

If you qualify for examination concessions due to some barrier to learning or learning disability, ensure that you apply for this well before exams. Ensure that you have the necessary help during your exams by booking a trained and qualified concessions facilitator beforehand to avoid disappointment.

What to do during an exam if you blank out:

Even if you have prepared well beforehand and you know your work, you may still suddenly blank out in the examination room. Try the following:

  • If you are being assisted by a facilitator, alert them to the fact that you have gone blank and allow them to direct you.
  • If you are alone, remember that this is not a life-threatening situation (even if it feels like it), and that you will get through this. Turn your paper over, close your eyes, and breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Do this several times until your breathing returns to normal. If you need to do this several times during the the exam and you fear running out of time, remember that this is preferable to being unable to do anything at all on the exam paper!
  • If need be, leave the question you were working on (leave some blank space if necessary), and continue with a question you feel more confident about.
  • Read through your exam paper and mark all the questions you feel more confident about. Aim to answer those first. It is not strictly necessary to answer questions in the order they are asked in the exam paper, but you MUST ensure that all questions are numbered strictly according to the numbers on the exam paper. If your paper is a mess and not numbered correctly, the examiner will be unable to mark it and you will lose marks unnecessarily.

After the exam:

  • Do not waste time beating yourself up about blanking out in the exam! Exam post-mortems serve no good purpose unless they help you to identify what caused you to blank out and to remedy the situation. Let it go otherwise.
  • Remember that an exam situation is a stressful situation by its very nature. Most people are not overjoyed at the thought of writing exams. If you are affected to the extent that you cannot function in any exam no matter how much you prepare, you will need to learn adequate coping mechanisms like consulting a qualified Edu-coach or investigating whether you qualify for a concession.

Action of some sort is the best way to move you forward and gain control of the situation. Identify what needs to be done and do that. Exams do not control you. Your future consists of more than writing exams!

Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

Learning local languages can benefit brain and social development

While the prospect of learning another language may be daunting, especially if you struggled to get decent grades for your mother tongue at at school, there are many good reasons to do so. South Africans may be at an advantage in this regard compared to many other nations, as most South Africans speak at least two languages, and often more.

learn language

Here are some compelling reasons to learn another language:

1. Massive benefits for your brain:

  • Knowing another language protects your brain against aging and can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia by around 4.5 years.
  • This is true even if an individual is illiterate but can speak another language.
  • Research reveals that the more languages you know, the less likely you are to experience memory loss or cognitive decline later in life.
  • Being bilingual or multilingual enhances your ability to multi-task (as you are thinking in different languages) which reduces stress.
  • Research has also shown that knowledge of other languages improves decision making ability and helps you become a better listener.
  • For children, or anyone involved in studying, knowledge of another language improves academic performance in other areas such as Maths, reading, comprehension and vocabulary tests.

2. Social and financial benefits:

  • You will enhance your travel experience in foreign countries, being able to order food and know what you’re eating and get a more complete experience of the culture. Being able to fit in like more of a local, you’re less likely to be scammed and harassed as a tourist.
  • You will be able to make deeper connections and form deeper friendships with those of other cultures and they will respect you more just for attempting to speak their language.
  • You will increase your job opportunities – with business becoming more global, it will be to your advantage to learn another language and may lead to better paying jobs.

3. Benefits of learning a local language:

  • In South Africa, we have 11 official languages and many of the reasons mentioned already are also benefits of learning a local language instead of a foreign one. While it may seem fun and romantic to learn French, German or Italian, you will probably only get to use that knowledge if you travel there or move to that country. Of course, the cognitive benefits apply to any language you learn.
  • Learning a local language like Zulu or Xhosa will benefit you in your own country as you will be able to understand and converse with many more of your countrymen.
  • Speaking to someone in their own language earns you respect – even if your accent is strange! Speaking a local language instantly breaks down barriers to communication. Nelson Mandela is believed to have said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

learn language

BrightSparkz Tutors offers a unique concept of language “boot camps” in Afrikaans and Zulu. These are appropriate for both school-age learners and adult beginners. This is a fun and effective way of learning the basics of a new language and it removes the fear and resistance that many people feel when learning a new language.

For further information, or to book your Afrikaans Boot Camp or Zulu Boot Camp, please contact BrightSparkz Tutors where our friendly team of consultants are waiting to assist you.

If you need more specialized language tutoring, we can assist with that too!

Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

Tutor Of The Month: Christie Munro

BrightSparkz Tutor of the Month

Christie is our February 2018 Tutor of the Month!

Christie matriculated from Rhenish Girls’ High in 2015 with fantastic results – 7 distinctions! She is currently completing her BSc majoring in Ocean and Atmosphere Science and Marine Biology at UCT, and has also studied Mandarin for 4 years. She is also a volunteer for the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. Christie has been tutoring for BrightSparkz since the middle of 2016, and has taken on several clients for us, tutoring everything from Maths and Life Science to EMS! Our team loves Christie because of her quick, cheerful responses and her willingness to take on any client. Her clients love her for her positivity and the amazing effect she has on her learners. She is a sweet, engaging tutor with a real passion for helping others, and we’re so happy to have her as part of our team. 

What some of Christie’s clients have to say about her: 

“ I wish to advise that Christie did a really great job helping Nicola – she has now written both her Matric Maths exams and both seemed to go reasonably well.  I wish you to pass on to Christie our many thanks for her dedication and attention to detail as well as her excellent teaching systems – they all made a huge difference to Nicola.”

Thank you for your dedication and effort as a BrightSparkz Tutor , Christie!

To get your amazing tutor, click here

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.

Tutor Of The Month: Rosha Naidoo

Tutor of the Month

Rosha is our December 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Rosha has been a tutor with us since September 2016. She was one of our first Readers & Scribes, and has assisted 6 learners through multiple sets of tests and exams since March this year, and has also tutored two learners. She has completed her Bachelor of Social Science, and two Honors degrees in Social Science, all at UKZN. She is currently completing her Masters degree. She volunteers at various children’s homes and charity events, and enjoys cooking, gardening and writing. Rosha is always willing to help, she is reliable and dedicated. The learners she assists during their exams and tests say she makes them feel comfortable and at ease. She always calls before exams to introduce herself and to check in with the learners she has been assisting. Rosha reads at a steady pace and makes sure the learner doesn’t fall behind.

Thank you for your hard work and the excellent example you’ve set as a concessions facilitator this year, Rosha!

To get your own incredible Reader or Scribe, click here. For your own amazing tutor, click here.

Tutor Of The Month: Marc Kasongo

Marc Kasongo

Marc is our November 2017 Tutor of the Month!

We are proud to announce that Marc Kasongo is our Tutor of the Month for November! Marc is one of our newer tutors who has proven himself as an incredible asset to our team very quickly. He receives excellent feedback from all the clients he works with, and is currently in his 3rd year of a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree at the University of Johannesburg. Marc is one of our tutors who are able to tutor Maths and the Sciences to Grade 8 – 12 level learners, as these are his specialty subjects. Thank you Marc for your dedication and commitment to our team and to your learners who look up to you!

Marc has the following to say about tutoring:

“I was a scholar at an IEB school where I managed to achieve 72% for Mathematics in Matric, and I would like to help high school learners achieve the same or even higher! I have over 100 hours of tutoring experience and in that time I have learnt to be patient, calm and reliable… The only vision I have for my students is success!”

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.

Why I Love Tutoring

If I had a dollar for every time someone had encouraged me to teach, well, I’d just have a dollar. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. I admired my teachers throughout my schooling years; the good and the bad. There is always something you can learn from them, whether that be the content they taught in the classroom or the manner in which they handled themselves in tough or awkward situations. One can teach anywhere – it’s just a matter of creativity.

love tutoring

As a tutor, my job is to help a learner achieve their academic goals and guide them through their academic struggles. It truly is rewarding when you physically get to see how your efforts helped improve a learner’s mark on a test or report. The smile you get to see on your learner’s face as to how proud they are of themselves is really all the matters at the end of the day. I have learnt how to be myself through teaching. I don’t have to always know it all and be the ambassador of the subject. I love teaching because your learners want to feel as if you are both going through this journey together. You are helping them achieve something they want and the journey is much more important than the destination.

Teaching can be challenging, especially when it comes to motivating your learner. You see the potential they have, and they often hear about the potential they have, but they do not feel as though they’ve got what it takes. Living in such a busy and demanding time can often make us feel the time constraints on everything we do and we expect our learners to get things done and understood as fast as possible. Sometimes it’s okay to take a step back and sit with your learner to reflect on where they are emotionally, mentally and physically. Taking the time to help them stop what they’re doing and to spend a few moments to take a deep breath and talk about where they are in life can take away a tremendous amount of pressure from them. I find this exercise vital as it also gives me an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with my learners. It helps them see I am human just like them and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. I encourage my learners to take baby steps as they work toward big goals and the proof is in the pudding.

I love tutoring because I am given the opportunity to help children achieve their best and inspire them on a personal and academic level. It excites me to see how energetic a learner becomes as soon as they understand a topic they struggled with. The determination and enthusiasm that stirs within a child is heart-warming. I enjoy getting to know my learners and to learn about life from their perspective. It brings me such a sense of joy to gain insight into their views and opinions about life. I can confidently say that I have learnt as much from my learners as they have learnt from me. That is why I love tutoring.

Written by Neeza Ramiah, BrightSparkz Tutor

Tutor Of The Month: Bassie Nkhereanye

 Bassie Nkhereanye

Bassie is our October 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Bassie has completed his B.Ed Degree at the University of Johannesburg, specializing in Senior and FET phase education, and majoring in the subjects of Mathematical and Life Sciences. He matriculated from Grosvenor Boys’ High School with distinctions for all of his subjects, including 85% for Maths, and was also the top student in his Maths courses at university. Bassie has quite a bit of experience working with learners, either as a teacher in a classroom or tutoring one on one. He has worked at schools, as well as having tutored Maths, Life Science and Accounting to learners from Grade 7 to second year university students. He is always incredibly well prepared for lessons, he is always responsible and reliable, as well as willing to help out. He has only been with BrightSparkz for a few months, and all his clients love him. He is able to make his learners excited about Maths. Bassie has the following to say about his style of teaching and who he is:

“I’m an upbeat and positive person who really values education and the opportunities it provides access to. I believe that learning can be fun and to that end, always try and make lessons as fun, interactive, lighthearted and relaxed as possible. I’m driven and determined person who is creative and adaptable to any challenges I encounter and always try to solve them as best as I can.”

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.