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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

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

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.

Is It Worth Writing Matric Supplementary Exams?

Should you write supplementary exams?

If you have written your Matric examinations and your results were disappointing, you have an option to improve your results.  Perhaps you passed Grade 12 but failed to get the good results you need for university entrance for a specific course? Maybe you failed Matric and don’t qualify to get a Matric certificate, and you are concerned about not being able to get a job without one?  

Matric rewrite supplementary exam

Whatever your reasons may be, writing supplementary Matric exams is an option to consider. There are major benefits to doing so, even though the thought of putting your life back a year is daunting. Yes, your friends may be moving on to greater things like tertiary study, working, or taking a gap year while you are stuck doing Matric work again! Yes, you can’t bear the thought of doing the same schoolwork again when you could not wait to put it behind you. Yes, you are disappointed at this roadblock in your life which right now feels like a devastating blow!

You have taken a serious knock to your self-confidence and you’re not sure which direction to follow. If you passed overall, should you give up your dreams of getting a university entrance or studying a specific field because your marks were not good enough? Should you settle for something else? If you failed your Matric exams, is it worth it to rewrite and get a Matric certificate? Should you suffer through the pain of trying to improve your Maths and Science marks? Will it really make a difference? Perhaps you were not planning to study further anyway, so why bother?

Good questions! However, you need to look beyond the here and now for your answers. Why give up your dreams if it is possible to still reach for them (even though it may be a little inconvenient now?). What happens if you settle for something else and you regret it later, or decide after a few years of working that you would like to study again but you don’t have a Matric certificate?

Having a Matric certificate gives you more options in life in terms of job opportunities, and who doesn’t like having options? You will find it difficult to find employment without Matric and even then, the most menial type of work possible. It may seem unimportant to you now as it is exciting to earn money, especially if you’re not used to having any, but it wears thin quickly if your earning potential never increases and you have to settle for anything you can get.

Although it seems like a big sacrifice to put your life on hold while you write supplementary exams, it is a small price to pay for all the years of a better future which lie ahead. It is worth doing merely to improve your options in life. (Particularly, improving on your Maths and Science marks if you have those as subjects, will allow you almost unlimited options in your study choices).

Matric rewrite supplementary exam

How to succeed in your supplementary exam

You will need to do things differently to ensure a better outcome than the first time you wrote your Grade 12 exams. You will need to be disciplined, to manage your time well, and to set some realistic study goals. Remember that a failed exam does not define you! The power is in your hands. If you feel like you don’t know how to study correctly, and you suspect that this has adversely affected your marks, try a Study Skills Crash Course. If you did not understand some aspects of the work, you will need to get some help – either enroll at a college which offers matric rewrites, or do it yourself with the help of past papers and a tutor. A highly qualified tutor will be able to offer you academic and emotional support. Your tutor has walked the path ahead of you and knows what it takes to get the Matric results you want!

Give yourself every opportunity for a bright future and consider writing supplementary Matric examinations! Book a tutor to help you now!

Supplementary Exam Infographic  Supplementary Exam Tutor

 

 

 

Written by: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff and Blog Writer

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.

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.

Tutor Of The Month: Joshua Boucher

 Joshua Boucher

Joshua is our September 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Joshua matriculated from Hyde Park High School in 2015 with great results all-round. He is currently in his 2nd year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Law at the University of Johannesburg, and hopes to become a Lawyer or work in the industry once he qualifies. Joshua joined BrightSparkz last year, and has worked with seven of our clients at BrightSparkz Tutors, and has received amazing feedback! He also has previous tutoring experience, having assisted a learner with Maths at Grade 7 level, and has been actively involved in mentoring and managing large groups of youth during his high school career. Joshua received his half colours in academics throughout high school, and has also received colours for multiple sports that he was involved in during his school years.

He is a confident and patient young man, and has proven himself as an experienced and dedicated tutor at BrightSparkz, having assisted the following learners: Two Grade 8 learners with Physical Science, a Grade 9 learner with Physical Science, a Grade 12 learner with Physical Science and a Grade 12 learner with Life Science, all with incredible feedback from both client and learner. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys playing and watching sport, as well as socializing with his friends.

 

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.