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Mapping Your Child’s Future

Recently, I was at a friend’s braai under the shade of an enormous tree on a very hot summer afternoon. While helping out with the braai, I overheard a parent talking to another parent, wondering which university to send his son. To my surprise, his son is only six years old. Well, a thought came to mind, what a lovely topic to write on… “Mapping your child’s future”.

Starting to think about which university to send your 6-year-old to might seem extreme, but if we break university acceptance down, we’ll see that it’s necessary to start planning right from the start!

mapping your child's future

Perhaps a good point to start on the topic is:

Life Skills Development

Countless surveys have shown that money doesn’t necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For many people, enjoying what they do at work is much more important. As your child progresses through the school years towards high school, so they have been slowly but steadily developing as an individual, gaining new insights, talents, abilities, and self-awareness. They have also been expanding their social skills, their own brand through the technology of digital media and have by then already have put in place their personality and psyche stamp, so to speak, garnered a network of contacts and delved into university courses and other career options. 

Coming back to the six-year-old boy mentioned above, what is no doubt important, is to first master their home language.

Literacy Development

A core skill necessary for excelling at school and obtaining that university acceptance, is literacy. You can begin your child’s literacy development from a young age, through an introduction to books, regularly reading to your child, and encouraging a love of reading. Here are what some of our famous literates had to say on the topic:

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

–Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

And remember: “All great Leaders are Readers!”

Developing a passion for reading will enlarge your child’s vocabulary, improve their grammar and writing skills, allow them to communicate eloquently and increase their creativity. All of these skills will end up helping your child when they start writing tests and exams. 

School Readiness

It is important to ensure that your child is adequately prepared to start school. This will prevent a great deal of stress and perhaps the necessity of your child being “kept back” a year due to not coping at school. 

If you’d like to ensure that your child is ready to cope with the rigors of “big” school, you may want to try the BrightSparkz Little Sparkz school readiness programme. Developed by qualified ECD experts, this programme will give your child that little extra boost to ensure they meet the milestone levels for starting school, all done in a fun and interactive way. 

Exam Tips

In Grade 3, children will start writing tests, which will build to writing exams in later grades, and the need for study skills, and possibly “burning the midnight oil”. Excuse the pun in these days of load shedding!

The following tips might be helpful to a child facing tests and exams:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help
  • Sleep well before exams, so that you’ll stay alert
  • Don’t doubt yourself – often your first answer is the right one
  • Study hard – short bursts of studying, with large bursts of concentration, work best
  • Know your learning style and find appropriate study methods
  • Don’t try to learn everything the day before the exam, but give yourself time to go over your work multiple times

University

Wow, after writing and passing Matric with flying colours, what is next? Most matriculants aspire to tertiary education. What does it mean to live a University life, “freedom”? Well, yes, but the important thing to remember is to survive the first year with all its distractions and to excel in the subsequent years, perhaps then studying towards an Honours Degree. 

Graduating from University sets your child apart from the rest. Employers are likely to see a University degree and think: this is someone who is equipped with sound financial skills and the ability to think laterally. University graduates have a strong ability to problem solve, are able to think critically, have a sound theoretical base of knowledge, and are able to apply this knowledge. This offers a distinct competitive advantage, career-wise!

To assist your young graduate to navigate the job-seeking minefield, watch out for our Mind The Gap programme for graduates, coming soon. 

Aim for the End Product!

Although university may be many years away for your child, remember to keep this final goal in mind: There is more than one way of getting there, and the most important thing to keep in mind is your child’s happiness and passions. 

Our skilled tutors will be able to assist you and your child in achieving their best possible results. Our friendly consultants can help you to decide on a tutor who best suits your needs, as well as your child’s personality. We also offer Study Skills Crash Courses, to teach your child how best to study according to their learning style, as well as several language Boot Camps, designed to bring fun into learning a language. If your child is still at the beginning of their journey, our Grade R readiness course can help start them on the right foot. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you!

 

Written by: Dor Yen Low, BrightSparkz Tutor & Blog Contributor

Dealing with Stress During Exams

As matriculants, your final year of high school is comprised of exams, exams, and more exams. Your Matric year is a formative event: it is a year in which you are under the most academic pressure you have ever encountered. You have a higher workload and less time to master the work. During this all you are aware that the results you achieve at the end of the year may very well be a determinant for your future. So what do all of these factors cause? A whole lot of stress.

Tales of Stress

During my Matric year and my first year at University, I was under immense pressure to perform well academically. This was brought on by aspirations to be accepted into a degree that requires good academic performance. Over these two years, I tried multiple tactics to stay afloat when it came to my workload. From sleeping 3-4 hours a night for weeks on end, and spending all my waking time working, to following a rigorous schedule of work and sleep, all with varying degrees of success.

One thing all my tactics did have in common: I was burnt out, and unable to work effectively and perform optimally in my academics. My inability to work effectively led me to apply more pressure to myself. This only reinforced this cycle of stress, until I one day decided that I had had enough.

exam stress matric

The Common Denominator

Most scholars and students at all levels of education experience academic stress. This stress, in the right amounts, can increase the physiological and cognitive functioning of a student, therefore improving their work ability and performance. Chronic stress and high cortisol levels, however, can impair brain functioning and suppress the immune system. Students with chronic stress may see a drop in their academic performance.

Students experience this stress for many reasons. It can be due to parental or financial pressure to perform well, pressure from educators to achieve good marks overall, or self-induced pressure to perform well. This stress can become debilitating to students. This is especially true in a year where such a large emphasis is placed on academic performance. It is, therefore, extremely important that this stress be managed effectively in students, to ensure good emotional well-being and, subsequently, good academic performance.

How to Deal with Stress

Managing your stress is a skill-set, and stress management differs from person-to-person. The following tips, however, can guide you in finding ways to effectively manage your stress:

  • Get enough sleep: Sleeping 6-8 hours a night is essential to maintaining the physical and cognitive functioning required of a high school student.
  • Organize: Make sure that you have a good schedule for keeping up with your work, and that you know the requirements of each subject before you start studying. Plan ahead for your Matric prelims and Matric final exams, so that you don’t need to rush through the work.
  • Practice self-care: Engage in activities that are fun, that make you feel relaxed and that distract you from your work. Whether it is to spend time with family, to read or to watch a movie with friends, guilt-free time spent away from your work will energize you and leave you ready to study as efficiently as possible.
  • Exercise: Take 20 minutes to do some light exercise during stressful times. Go you’re your dogs for a walk, or do a yoga workout on YouTube. The exercise will increase the release of serotonin in your body. In turn, this will improve your mood and leave you feeling refreshed.
  • Be kind to yourself: If you performed poorly, if you didn’t stick to your studying schedule, or if you feel like you didn’t work hard enough for a test, take a moment to consider how hard you have been working and use positive emotions as motivation.
  • Ask for help: Whether it’s something small like helping with a problem from a friend, or a cup of coffee from your mom, or asking help from a professional to help manage your stress and anxiety. Make sure to do what is necessary to manage your stress and maintain your mental health in your Matric year.

What BrightSparkz suggests to help lighten the load

  • A tutor can help you understand the work you’re putting so much pressure on yourself to excel in. Our tutors have been through Matric and know what it takes to do well. Whether you need to revise the basics or practice your logarithms, our tutors can help! They’ll fit around your busy schedule. This way you don’t need to worry about time spent getting to extra lessons at inconvenient times.
  • Our Study Skills Crash Course will help you get organized, and use your precious time most effectively. Most Matrics don’t know their learning style or which study methods work best for them. This can add hours on to your studying! Spend your time studying in the best way possible. Our Study Skills Crash Course also only takes 2 hours, and can be done via Skype – so it won’t take away from your study time!

Happy studies.

Written by Inge Ungerer, BrightSparkz tutor & blog contributor

Blanking Out During An Exam

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

Concession Facilitators: Making exams less stressful!

What does a Concession Facilitator do?

At BrightSparkz, our Concession Facilitators (readers, scribes and prompters) ensure that all students have simple, smooth, and stress-free test and exam periods. By providing direct and personalized instruction alongside high-end proficiency in transcribing talent, a BrightSparkz Concession Facilitator ensures that your knowledge is truly reflected in the written component of your test or exam and that every aspect is addressed in a detailed and transparent manner. Concessions Facilitators also ensure that the instructions, questions, and any additional, relevant information are all highlighted and effectively presented to maximize academic performance.

Readers

  • They dictate questions, sources, and instructions to ensure clarity and comprehension.
  • Having a reader will ensure that you hear every aspect of the question! This reduces the chance of mistakes and skipping parts of questions, and improves your ability to answer optimally.
  • Readers are a great help for any students with dyslexia, in addition to those with other special needs conditions that impair textual and visual reception.

Scribes

  • These highly skilled writers will transcribe your dictated work in a neat and professional manner, therefore ensuring you peace of mind.
  • Having a scribe will allow you to focus entirely on constructing your answer. You then simply dictate your words to the scribe who writes it down diligently and efficiently.
  • Scribes provide invaluable assistance to any students who qualify for writing allowances, including cases of arm and hand injuries.

Book a Concession Facilitator today!

Endless Benefits!

BrightSparkz Tutors can provide you with experienced and talented Concession Facilitators to ensure that your tests and examinations reflect your true capability. With over 10 years of tutor-matching experience, BrightSparkz has assisted with more than 500 hours of concessions facilitation over the past 2 years. Learners have experienced a substantial increase in their academic performance and marks, as well as reduced stress levels. This has resulted in learners and students excelling at their studies in a way that highlights their true potential, and even exceeding expectation. Book a Concession Facilitator now.

What our Clients have to say

Friday’s exam went well. Both Munira and Nwabisa were waiting for Taryn and Kayla when they arrived at college. They both read well and clearly. Kayla mentioned that it was Nwabisa’s first time reading as she had only scribed previously, and that her reading was good and very clear. Both my girls felt very comfortable with them.

– Rowena, Durban North

Overall I give BrightSparkz a perfect 10/10 rating! The admin team were amazing as was my Writer. The test went really well and the admin team got back to me super quickly and assured me of a Writer. Amazing service and I couldn’t ask for better. 10/10! 🙂

– Aiden, Sandton

Written By: Filipp Stoliarov, BrightSparkz Tutor & Concessions Facilitator – Cape Town