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Holiday Tutoring WILL Give Your Child the Edge!

School's out - how to make the holidays productiveAre your children daydreaming about the fast-approaching school holidays? Late nights, lazy mornings in bed, spending time with their friends, and most of all – freedom from homework! Perhaps you are looking forward to not fighting the traffic for a few weeks, not preparing school lunches or making sure uniforms are ironed and no after-school pick up drama? We imagine all of the above!

We also know that holiday tutoring and how to get the right tutor are not the most popular or important things on your (or your child’s) mind right now, but we’re going to try to change that!

The school holidays give children a much-needed break from day-long learning and routine, and are a definite necessity in the life of every child. It allows them time to recharge, have fun and be a child! However, this can be a time to really take advantage of your child’s available time for their own good.

If your child is excelling at school, and there is no room for improvement, you are indeed fortunate and probably the envy of most parents of school-aged learners. However, for many children, a complete brain shutdown over the holidays is not as good an idea as parents may think. Studies have shown that learners, particularly young children, display a dip in their academic abilities after extended periods of relaxation, such as long holidays.

Once back at school, learners are expected to continue on the same, if not a higher level (due to them having had a break), but, teachers do notice a significant downward shift in all subjects, as well as in reading and handwriting levels – all at an even weaker level than prior to the break. Learners (and their parents) can expect it to take a week or two to get back into the swing of things again, and for academic performance to be restored.

Help your child avoid the post-holiday academic dip!

Young minds need to be continuously stimulated. Children will find something to do with their holidays, but the question is: Are these activities going to benefit them, or simply allow for academic regress? By getting a tutor, you can ensure that your child avoids the post-holiday academic dip.

 

Here’s how a Holiday Tutoring Program can give your child the edge:

  1. It keeps a general structure

Although we may sometimes resent it, we all need structure in our lives, and children even more so. Without it, a certain level of anxiety can begin to set in, as too much unpredictability is uncomfortable for most people. Learners go from a strict and organized schedule of classes, tests, homework, sport and extracurricular activities, to weeks of screens, games and mobile devices, sleeping in, and countless hours to fill.

A holiday tutor will ensures that the academic realm of life is still under control. It also allows for the other 80% of the holiday time to be enjoyed as resting time, knowing that someone constructive and stimulating has been accomplished. It leads to the satisfaction of “keeping on top of things” instead of subconscious stressing time – knowing that the break will soon end and that they are not at all ready for the new workload that awaits them.

Giving your child the opportunity of tutoring at regular intervals throughout the holiday (even for as little as 1 lesson per week), will provide just enough structure to help your child keep their focus on academics, as well as ease the transition back into the new term.

  1. It allows time to go back to the basics

All subjects, particularly Maths and Science have basic building blocks. I recall from my own Maths struggles at school, as soon as you’ve missed a set of basics, it is nearly impossible to make sense of anything that comes after that!

Whether your child has missed a few days of school, or has had little understanding up to a point, holidays are a great time to catch up on concepts and fill in the gaps. Once the new term commences, there will then be even more new work to get to grips with.

3. It gives learners the time they need to process information

Without the pressure of class tests and assessments constantly creeping up on them, the break allows learners to feel as though they have the time to spend fully grasping various concepts.

Additionally, because children are generally more relaxed in the holidays, they retain more information and have time to process it before moving right onto something new, as is most often the case at school.

  1. It allows learning to happen at the BEST time

Extra lessons normally take place after a full day at school, when very often a learner is already so drained that all they want to do is something mindless such as kicking a ball or watching TV. There are unfortunately only so many hours in a day, especially during the term, which makes it difficult to schedule tutoring at any other time, but that’s what makes the holidays such an ideal time for tutoring! Learners can have lessons in the morning when minds are fresh and able to process and retain new information, much more effectively. 

  1. It helps to alleviate test and exam anxietyStudy Skills Crash Course

Most people have some degree of test-related anxiety, often due to feeling unprepared. Tests make up a large part of a learner’s grade, and it is therefore essential that they can perform in this area. A holiday tutor can use the time to not only help your child prepare for future tests and exams, but also to improve on study skills. BrightSparkz also offers a unique “Study Skills Crash Course”, designed specifically for our learners in order to highlight the most important tips and advice for each learner’s individual learning style. This one is not to be missed!

  1. It lightens a parent’s load

While children seem to spend more time on holiday than they do at school, parents most often still need to be at work all year round. When your child is sent home with holiday homework and assignments, it can be a challenge finding time to help them get this done.

Thank goodness for tutors, who can not only make sure that the holiday work is completed, but also that your child understands the content of the work. It’s a no-brainer! 

  1. It is a time to re-evaluate and set new goals

Tutors are great motivators who inspire and encourage their learners to constantly try to achieve better results. Why not make the most of the accountability relationship your child develops with a tutor and allow them to spend time together in the holidays, not only for the sake of working on school material, but to help them set academic goals for the new term and keep them motivated? This allows your child to start the new term feeling inspired and driven to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.

  1. It teaches learners to step-up to challenges

Holiday tutoring is not mandatory, so learners who spend a bit of extra time on their academics during the holidays are learning the value of taking charge and responsibility, as opposed to being a victim of their academic struggles. This is also an opportunity to improve on average marks and put in the time to push for that distinction. This is of great importance for Grade 11 and 12 learners who desire a place in a tertiary institution or course of choice.

Holiday tutoring instils discipline, and teaches the value of doing what others won’t, to achieve what others don’t. There is no doubt that learners will see the positive outcomes of their hard work when returning to school with a greater confidence and understanding, even before they see the fruits when they receive their first tests back!

Myth Busters!

Many parents may assume that it is only necessary to make use of a tutor if their child is struggling, and some even wait until the child has already failed before seeking the help of a tutor. However, tutoring is extremely beneficial to every kind of child – whether they are a failing student desperate to pass, or an average one chasing distinctions.

“Research suggests that 1 hour, 2 – 3 times per week is an effective way of helping children catch up, maintain or even excel in their academics, especially if they are given one-on-one input. This is the best way to ensure they get the most out of their education”.

 How BrightSparkz can help you 

  • Private Tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home, or at a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through the explanation of basic concepts, practising concept application, revision of theory, and interactive discussion.

Contact us about our holiday tutors today!

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are hand-picked by our experienced team of consultants. based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent subject knowledge, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential! Get a tutor today!

 

  • BrightSparkz Mobile Maths & Science (Maths & Science App)

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths & Science App tailored to South African learners from Grades 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB syllabi. The platform provides top quality resources broken up into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons as it’s something they have unlimited access to, once registered for just R499 for the year. Get your 7-day fee trial here!

  • Study Skills Crash Course!

BrightSparkz Tutors now has its own Educoach, Lauren, who runs a tailored one-on-one Study Skills Crash Course, comprising 2 x 1 hour sessions, and based on each learner’s individual learning styles. Lauren has over 10 years in the education industry, having taught a variety of subjects and grades to learners of varying capability. This is a hugely valuable service that we encourage all parents to sign their children up for – and holidays are the perfect time! For more information or to book, click here or contact edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

If a holiday tutor sounds like just what you need, BrightSparkz Tutors can help. Take advantage of our Holiday Tutoring Promotion (15% off any 5 or 10 Classic Lesson Package – T&C’s apply) – Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right back to you!

Written By: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

The Brains Behind BrightSparkz

“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.” 

It’s been 10 years since the humble beginnings of a few flyer handouts and informal tutor recruitment. As we celebrate our decade milestone, the brains behind BrightSparkz get personal – sharing some insights into running a business, their various challenges and achievements, as well as a snippet of what we can expect from BrightSparkz in the future. 


Amy Stockwell (Johannesburg)
“I completed a BSc. Physiotherapy degree before moving from Cape Town to Johannesburg at the end of 2006 to do my year of community service, while also planning the expansion of our Cape Town tutoring business to Gauteng. In 2009 I completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management through the Wits Business School, and quickly realised that business was my passion. In 2011, I stopped practicing physiotherapy, got married and started dedicating all my time to BrightSparkz Tutors. Our family grew in May 2015 when we were blessed with our baby boy, so my time is currently best spent on being a mom and supportive wife to my husband, who is a competitive cyclist and mountain biker. When I get time of my own, I enjoy running 10km and 21km races.”


Dominique Oebell (Cape Town)
“I completed a BSc. Physiotherapy at UCT in 2006, and worked part-time as a physiotherapist while we were establishing BrightSparkz Tutors. In 2013, I obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at the UCT Graduate School of Business, and while it was initially Physiotherapy that developed a lot of empathy in me and a passion to make a difference, I believe that its entrepreneurship and education that can really improve people’s lives. In my free time I love spending time at the beach, walking my dogs, and reading books that inspire me to be a better person. My faith life is also really important to me, and that keeps me centered when things get stressful!”


Q1: Where did you get the idea from to start a tutoring company and what took it from an idea to an actual business? (What was your greatest motivation to get started?)

I started tutoring in primary school and continued into my university years. In third year I was unable to take on more learners, but still tried to help to find suitable tutors for parents who contacted me. This is where the idea was born. After some research, we realised that there wasn’t much out there in terms of home based one-on-one tutoring, and that parents really needed this type of service.  AS

Q2: What would you say to people who aren’t fired up about what they’re doing or studying?

I would advise them to not settle on that career (although sometimes it is wise to learn what you can from a field and to use it to your advantage in a transition period), and to keep exposing themselves to different job environments or fields, to discover what makes them tick. Once they have discovered this, to start meeting people and growing their network of individuals who operate in these fields or environments. This is a great way to learn more about a field, but also to be made aware of new job or business opportunities that arise within those fields.  DO

Q3: What advice would you give people who have or are thinking about starting a business?

Starting a business is the easy part. Maintaining it and “finishing” well is the hard part! Knowing why you want to start a business is key. Many experts in a field assume the logical next step is to start their own company but what they don’t realise is that the skills that make them a great employee are not the same skills that will make them a great entrepreneur. They start with great enthusiasm, with ideas of being their own boss and having their own time, only to realise that often the initial investment of time and energy (and money) can be much greater than expected.

Knowing what your customers needs are, as well as how many players are already in the market, is also critical. It doesn’t matter how well you bake bread – if no one is needing home-baked bread, or there are already 5 people baking bread in your community, your business will fail (unless you can provide something that no one else is, that your customers are needing, of course!).  DO

Q4: The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years, particularly in the area of technology. What is BS doing to leverage the technology we have available to us to better serve and educate learners?

It definitely has! BrightSparkz started using a very manual system until we knew exactly what our needs were, and had our first custom system built in 2011. This is something we are in the process of upgrading, and have also been developing a mobile responsive system that we are currently rolling out with our tutors, and will extend to clients later in the year.

We also introduced BrightSparkz Mobile Maths and Science in 2014, which is a platform that allows learners to access user friendly resources via their PC, tablet, or smartphone. The program caters for both CAPS and IEB learners, by dividing the Maths, Physical Science, and Natural Sciences curricula into comprehensive sections. It’s a great tool to help children and their tutor work through and consolidate the Maths and / or Science syllabus for the year, especially in preparation for tests and exams.

One of our missions is to automate as much as we can without taking away the personal touch from our service, as this is something that is still extremely important to us.  AS

Q5: Do you think the gradual move to online education and self-education is a positive one? Is BS responding to this transition is any way?

There are pro’s and con’s to every change in society, but we have never before had access to so much information as we do in the digital era, and that opens up opportunities for learning to many more people. One can learn anything without traditional limitations of space, time, and money. That said, there is still incredible value in face-to-face time with a tutor/teacher/facilitator, and there seems to be a higher level of accountability in face-to-face or blending learning environments. I think the challenge for online education service providers still lies in how to motivate individuals effectively, specifically children and teenagers. 

We are currently positioning ourselves in such a way that we are able to grow with the changes that are changing the landscape of extra-curricular educational services. Online tutoring via Skype is something we already offer, as well as additional tools such as online whiteboards and learning platforms are just a few of our tech plans for future. However, we believe strongly in a blended learning approach, and will always incorporate the human element into our service offerings regardless of how the tech landscape changes, as we believe this is still what our customers are wanting.  DO

Q6: What have been some of the greatest challenges, and greatest achievements over the past 10 years?

Persevering with this business has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life! There have been so many times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and trade it in for a job! But after a good cry and a pep-talk from my family, I determine what needs to change and I keep at it. Being able to celebrate our 10-year anniversary is a huge milestone for us! We have learnt many lessons and have experienced many setbacks, yet I’m proud of the excellent service standards we maintain and of our current team of staff who work really hard to attain this. We’ve had many challenges in the areas of staffing, navigating company restructuring, and in getting our business processes up to speed with competitors who use more sophisticated technology. In some areas, we’ve had to work really hard to catch up and although we have not yet “arrived”, our hard work is paying off and we’ve been able to secure contracts with larger educational institutions, publishers and even film production companies.  DO

Q7: How is BS trying to intentionally deal with the challenges faced by South African learners?

One of our primary goals is to eventually make tutoring accessible to as many South African learners as possible, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Part of our planning this year is to officially launch our corporate sponsorship program, in order to extend our reach in this regard. We have previously worked with numerous foundations who assist in identifying learners showing potential and who would otherwise not be able to afford assistance. This is something we are extremely excited and passionate about, and look forward to partnering with organizations who value education as the key to the future, as much as we do.  AS

 

“No one can be sure of what changes, big or small, lie ahead. One thing is certain, our journey is not over.”

 

Interested in one-on-one tutoring in the comfort of your own home? We can make that happen for you! Feel free to get in touch with us here.

 

Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Managing the New School Term

“What I learn today doesn’t make yesterday wrong, it makes tomorrow better”.

Just as the stress of the exam season has subsided, the stress and anxiety that comes with a new school term starts to arise. We understand that a new school term can be daunting for both children and their parents, and while it cannot be avoided, there are those unnecessary stresses that can be combated.

 

How to combat unnecessary stress and make the most of the home-stretch:

  1. Keep a routine

Keeping a routine is one of the most promoted yet underestimated and underused pieces of advice. Having a routine makes many of the things in our lives that would otherwise be unpredictable, completely predictable – which then puts them in our control and minimizes the stress potentially attached to them. We also often underestimate how much time we waste during a day that can quite easily be spent on a productive and beneficial activity, had we had a thought out schedule and anticipated it. For example, packing a book and reading in the car in early morning traffic or on the way home is a great time to get your reading done when you would otherwise be doing nothing anyway. This also frees up the time you would have spent reading, and can now be spent on other things – allowing you to achieve a lot more, in less time. Where are you wasting time that could possibly be better spent if you had a schedule and planned for it?

  1. Set goals and daily tasks

How would you like to finish this year? What would you like your report to look like when you hand it to your parents? If you aren’t proud of where you are academically, then it’s time to start deciding where you would like to be, and what you need to do in order to get there. Set some long-term goals for yourself, and then determine what steps need to be taken each day that will get you closer towards your long-terms goals. This requires discipline, and sometimes saying no to other activities that a probably way more fun, but I can promise that you won’t regret it when you receive that report card at the end of the term.

  1. Prepare in advance

If you are anything like I was at school, you probably wait until the very last minute to do everything: to get out of bed in the morning, to do your homework, to start assignments. And as I’m sure you’ve already discovered, this inevitably always ends in a last minute rush that sends your stress levels through the roof! Let’s try getting out of procrastination station this term and start preparing for what will be coming, and keep coming, whether we prepare for it or not. Something as simple as packing your bag the night before can do wonders for a good start to the day, and will even help you to sleep better.

  1. Don’t fall behind

Having to catch-up a day or two’s work may sound like no big deal, but what happens when a day or two rolls over into a week or two? We understand that getting home after a full day of school to sit down and spend more hours on homework can be exhausting, and quite frankly, entirely unnecessary. But homework is here to stay whether we like it or not, and fortunately, has not killed anyone yet. The best way to avoid homework stress is to get it out of the way as soon as possible. After you’ve arrived home from school and had something to eat, dedicate the next hour or two (depending on your Grade and workload), to complete that day’s homework. If you’re able to, you can even move ahead with certain tasks or exercises if you know there will be some days where you might have less time to do homework due to sports etc. This leaves the evening free to do things that you enjoy, without having the guilt and anxiety of what’s still waiting for you in your school bag hanging over your head.

  1. Go over your work each day

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re able to keep up with your workload is by spending some time each day (+- 30 minutes) becoming familiar with what is new. This allows everything you learnt during the day to be processed and reinforced in your brain, which not only increases your ability to recall the information (memory), but also helps you to identify parts of your work you don’t fully understand. You can then spend some time making sense of the work you don’t understand, or make a note to have your teacher or tutor explain it to you. Making sure you understand your work daily also helps ensure that you don’t fall behind as previously mentioned.

  1. Still make time for the things you enjoys most

Have you ever heard that saying: “Too much of anything is a bad thing”? You may assume that cutting out sports and any other extra curricular activities will give you more time for academics, and therefore improve your marks, but truthfully, it’s going to end up costing you far more than is necessary. Creating a balance in your life is very important and cutting out the things you enjoy most will most likely result in resenting what’s left – school and homework. While academics are incredibly important, so is your health and fitness, and it has actually been proven that keeping active and making time for the things you enjoy will positively impact other areas of your life as you develop increased energy and better concentration. But remember, in order to make time for the things you enjoy, you’ll have to have a routine to determine what amount of free time you do and don’t have.

 

How BrightSparkz can help:

  • Private tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home or a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through lots of practice, revision of theory, and interactive discussion of the subject matter.

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are selected carefully based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent knowledge of the subjects they tutor, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential.

  • Online Platforms

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Mobile Maths and Science app tailored to South African learners from Grade 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB learners. The app provides top quality resources, breaks up these curricula into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons. Register for a free trial here

  • Study Skills Crash Course

BrightSparkz Tutors has partnered with an outstanding Educational Psychologist who offers a fantastic Study Skills Crash Course, designed to benefit Grades 8 – 12 in particular, in order to help your child make the most of their education and tutoring. Find out more or book a Study Skills Crash Course here

 

It’s never too late for your child to start combating stressful habits and taking control of their education. But neither you nor your child have to do it alone – BrightSparkz Tutors are ready to help. Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right onto looking for the most suitable tutor for your learner’s needs.

 

Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Holiday Tutoring Benefits

Helping your child rest, without regressing

School holidays are on the horizon, and there is no doubt that children’s minds are already filled with the many fun activities they’re planning to spend all their free time on – one of which we can be sure, is not extra tutoring. Though it may appear to parents as if their children are like sponges and can soak up any amount of extra information over the break, the reality is that the holidays are there for a reason. They are intended to give their young minds a rest. However, the operative word here is rest – not a complete brain shutdown.

Studies have shown that learners, particularly young children, actually display a dip in their academic abilities after extended periods of relaxation, such as long holidays. Upon returning to school, learners are expected to continue on the same, if not a higher level, however, teachers speak of a noticeable backslide in all subjects, as well as in reading and handwriting levels – all being at an even poorer level than prior to the break.

This is due to the fact that young minds need to be continuously stimulated. Children will find something to do with their holidays, but the question is: are these activities actually going to benefit them, or simply allow for academic regress?

How holiday tutoring helps to avoid the regression and make progress:

  1. It keeps a general structure

Most people, although we sometimes resent it, need structure in their lives, and children even more so. Without it, a certain level of anxiety can begin to set in – nothing is as it usually is and there is a level of unpredictability that a large percentage of learners (as well as their parents) don’t deal with well. Learners go from a strict and organized schedule of classes, tests, and homework, to weeks of PlayStation games, sleeping in, and countless hours to fill.

Holiday tutoring allows both parent and child to feel as though the academic realm of life is still under control. This also then allows for the other 70% of the holiday time to actually be enjoyed as resting time, as opposed to subconscious stressing time – knowing that the break will at some point end and that they are not at all ready for the new workload that awaits them.

Having your child sit down with a tutor at regular intervals throughout the holiday (even for as little as 1 lesson per week) will provide just enough structure to help your child keep their focus on academics, as well as ease the transition back into the new term.

  1. It allows time to go back to the basics

All subjects, particularly Maths and Science have their basic building blocks, and as I can recall from my own Maths struggles at school, as soon as you’ve missed a set of basics, it is near impossible to make sense of anything that comes after that. Whether your child has missed a few too many days at school, or has just had absolutely no understanding up to this point, the holiday is a great time to use to catch up on concepts missed, and fill the understanding gaps. Once learners start the new term, there will be even more new work to get to grips with.

  1. It gives learners the time they actually need

Without the pressure of class tests and assignments constantly creeping up on them, the break allows learners to feel as though they actually have the time to spend fully grasping various concepts. Additionally, because children are generally more relaxed in the holidays, they are able to retain more information and are afforded the time to actually process it before too quickly moving right onto something new, as is most often the case at school.

  1. It allows you to pick the best time, not just what is left of the time

Extra lessons by nature are forced to take place after school hours when very often a learner is already so drained that all they want to do is something mindless such as kicking a ball outside or staring into a television screen. Yet, after a full academic day, parents and tutors expect them to take in an extra load of information – a lot of which is often entirely lost. Of course, there is not much that can be done about this, but that’s what makes the holidays such an ideal time for tutoring. Learners can have lessons in the morning when their minds are still fresh and are able to process and retain information, particularly new information, more effectively.

  1. It helps to alleviate test and exam anxiety

Most people have some degree of test anxiety, which is most often due to the fact that they never feel completely ready for what they’re about to be tested on. Tests make up a large part of a learner’s grade and it is therefore essential that they are able to perform in this area. A holiday tutor can use the time to not only help your child better prepare for future tests and exams, but also improve on study skills as whole – teaching a learner how to more effectively study and prepare throughout the year, even when not accompanied by a tutor.

  1. It lightens a parent’s load

While children seem to spend more time on holiday than they do at school, parents most often still need to be at work. So when their child is sent home with holiday homework and assignments, it can be a challenge finding time to help them get these done. Thank goodness for tutors, who can not only be the ones making sure that the holiday work is completed, but also that your child actually understands the content of the work and is still learning from it.

  1. It is a time to re-evaluate and set new goals

Tutors are great motivators of inspiring and encouraging their learners to constantly achieve better results. Why not make the most of the accountability relationship your child develops with a tutor and allow them to spend time together in the holidays, not only for the sake of working on school material, but to help them set academic goals for the new term, allowing them to start the new term feeling inspired and driven to achieve them.

  1. It teaches learners to step-up

Holiday tutoring is not mandatory. Therefore, learners who are spending that little bit of extra academic time during the holidays are learning the value of taking charge of their situation, as opposed to being a victim of their academic struggles, or still improving on their average marks and pushing for distinctions. Holiday tutoring instills discipline and teaches the value of doing what others don’t, in order to achieve what others won’t. There is no doubt that learners will see the positive outcomes of their hard-work when returning to school with a greater confidence and understanding.

Myth Busters!

Many parents may assume that it is only necessary to make use of a tutor if their child is struggling, and some even wait until the child has already failed before it feels acceptable to seek the help of a tutor. However, tutoring can be beneficial to every kind of child – whether they are a failing student desperate to pass, or an average one chasing distinctions.

“Research suggests that 30 minutes, 3 – 5 times a week is a very effective way of helping children catch up, maintain or even excel in their academic abilities, especially if they are given one-to-one input, and is the best way to ensure they get the most out of their education”.

While an intense boot-camp style tutoring schedule will inevitably burn your child out before the new term has even begun, there are many benefits to having a tutor help your child keep up with a moderate level of academic stimulation throughout the holiday. It will set them up for the best Term 2 possible – and help them actually achieve those marks you’ve been praying about.

How BrightSparkz can help

  • Private tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home or a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through lots of practice, revision of theory, and interactive discussion of the subject matter.

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are selected carefully based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent knowledge of the subjects they tutor, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential.

  • BrightSparkz App

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths and Science App tailored to South African learners from Grade 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB learners. The platform provides top quality resources, breaks up these curriculum into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons.

  • Study Skills Workshops

BrightSparkz Tutors has partnered with an outstanding, specialist Educational Psychologist with a tutoring and teaching background in order to provide yet another value added service that our learners can benefit from, in order to make the most of their tutoring, and go into the exam period feeling like everything is manageable. For more information on when and where our holiday workshops will take place, please contact us on edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

 

If a holiday tutor sounds like just what you need, BrightSparkz Tutors are ready to help. Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right onto looking for the most suitable tutor for your learner’s needs.

 

Written by Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Top 10 Universities in South Africa

Which are the best universities in South Africa?

Many learners may feel unsure about where to enroll for their tertiary education. We have compiled a list of South Africa’s top 10 best Universities. We have assembled this list according to much research, Africa.com, student opinions, reviews and the reputable Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

According to www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, “The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.”

Additionally, Africa.com collected both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which of the many universities in South Africa make the top 10 list. A variety of criteria were considered including the following: a) undergraduate and graduate school reputation among higher education peers; b) student selectivity for entering undergraduate class; c) quality and quantity of faculty research, including depth of research facilities and engagement beyond immediate community, and d) international student ratio—the degree to which institution draws students from outside of its national boundaries.

While no one university is a perfect fit for everyone, I do hope that this list provides some helpful and important information when deciding where to study.

1.) University of Cape Town (UCT) University Of Cape Town

Established in 1829, UCT is South Africa’s oldest university and makes a frequent appearance on yearly varsity ‘best’ lists such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list. The university is considered the top research institution on the continent, with more “A” rated researchers than any other South African university. It is the highest ranked African university in both the QS World and the Times Higher Education world university rankings. According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, UCT places at number 124.

Other than offering the best sports management diploma in the world (as recently bestowed by the Edunivarsal International Scientific Committee), UCT is also considered one of the country’s most environmentally friendly universities. Over the past five years a number of sustainability projects were launched, including Green Campus Initiative, an effort focused on making UCT more environmentally-friendly.

Notable alumni include heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard and at least three Nobel Laureates, including biophysicist Sir Aaron Klug (also a WITS alum), the late Professor Alan MacLeod Cormack, and author JM Coetzee.

2.) University of the Witwaterstrand (WITS) Johannesburg

Wits is considered to be one of the top research universities on the continent and boasts 20 South African Research Chairs, seven research institutes and 20 research units. Just less than 900 academic staff members accommodate over 30,000 students, ten percent of whom are international students.

According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, WITS places between numbers 251 – 275.

WITS University has one of the largest fossil collections in the Southern Hemisphere, 14 museums, 2 art galleries, and 12 libraries.
Noteworthy alumni include former South African President Nelson Mandela (he studied law in the 1940s), political activist Helen Suzman, former judge Richard Goldstone, and businessman Patrice Motsepe. The university is also the alma mater of three other Nobel Prize Laureates; biophysicist Aaron Klug, biologist Sydney Brenner, and author Nadine Gordimer.

3.) Stellenbosch University, Western Cape Stellenbosch University

Located near beautiful wine regions; Stellenbosch University has been deemed one of the top research universities in the country. 28,000 students are taught by 915 lecturers and close to 10 percent of those admitted are international students. Providing accomplished tutors. According to the most recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, the University of Stellenbosch places between numbers 276 – 300

The University’s own iShack system was developed to improve the living situations of those living in informal settlements through the use of a basic solar energy system. The initiative was recently awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help upscale the project. With a strong emphasis of research throughout all departments, its Desmond Tutu TB Centre recently won an international prize for its research on childhood tuberculosis (TB) and its community-based approach to TB and HIV care.

4.) Rhodes University, Eastern Cape

Whist one of the smaller universities, comprising of only 7,000 students, Rhodes University is one of the most diverse, since roughly one quarter of its students are international. Due to its small student base, the student to teacher / tutor ratio is more favourable at one lecturer to about 15 students.

According to the official Rhodes University website, all of its degrees are internationally recognised and the university’s International Library of African Music (ILAM) is said to the “greatest repository of African music in the world”. Additionally, the university’s school of Journalism and Media Studies is thought to be one of the best in the country.
Notable Rhode students include virologist Max Theiler (who was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a yellow fever vaccine), author Wilbur Smith, and internationally recognised journalist Anand Naidoo.

5.) University of Pretoria, Pretoria University of Pretoria

Also considered one of the leading research universities in South Africa, UP offers more than 1,800 programmes at its main campus and hosts more than 50,000 students.

It has the highest research output in South Africa, a position it has held proudly since 1997 and in September last year, the university launched a new research initiative focused on the country’s future energy security, IRT on Energy. It’s also set to become the first university on the continent to offer simulated underground mining training at a Virtual Reality Centre. UP is also home to the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), one of the country’s foremost Business Schools, which offers internationally credited MBA programmes. The university was recently named the top business school in Africa on the UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings list.

6.) University of the Free State, Bloemfontein University of Free State

The University is comprised of three campuses spread across the city, and hosts more than 33,000 students, including more than 2,000 from abroad.

UFS prides itself on its 7 accredited Academic clusters, 107 NRF-accredited professors and 18 international research partnerships. The University has also paved the way in forward-thinking, from being the first university in the country to have a Department of Sign Language, and the only institution on the continent that offers a postgraduate programme in Disaster Management.

Noteworthy alumni include, Former South African president P.W. Botha, as well as cricketer Hansie Cronje and author Antjie Krog.

7.) University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Hosting over 42,000 students and 1,600 staff, this university is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 2,500 of its students are foreign, having come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), China and India.
Its medical school campus is home to CAPRISA, one of the largest and most effective HIV and AIDS research centres in South Africa. It also produced one of the highest university research outputs during 2010, ranking third overall, and thereby contributing close to 12 percent of the country’s research publications by major universities.
Notable alumni include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Chief Justice Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng, and businessman Sol Kerzner.

8.) University of Western Cape, Cape Town University of Western Cape

During the years of Apartheid, the University of the Western Cape was where many non-white political activists from across the country were able to get an education. Now, 50 years since its establishment, the university hosts 15,000 students of all nationalities and cultures.

Earlier this year, the university achieved the inaugural Green Campus of the Year award for its many environmentally-friendly enterprises, including its recycling projects and the use of solar powered golf carts for campus workers to get around. UWC is also dedicated to the research and development of free and open-source software. It is the only African member of the Open Courseware Consortium.

Political activist Allan Boesak, and Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, have both graduated from UWC.

9.) University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg has four campuses located across the city and caters to just more than 48,000 students, of which 2,000 are international. The university places great importance on research and has over 20 research centres and around 90 rated researchers. Research has improved greatly, most especially in areas of life sciences, physical sciences, literature, language and linguistics, as well as management science and business commerce.

10.) Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town

CPUT has just over 32,000 students enrolled on its two campuses, one in Cape Town CBD and the other in Bellville. CPUT is known for its take in creative, more specialist areas of study and for its practical, hands-on approach to education. This is a beneficial and worth-while consideration for those who are not strictly academically inclined.

Brightsparkz is proud to have tutors from UCT, WITS, Stellenbosch, and the universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg. We also have tutors from UWC, CPUT, and UKZN as well. Find out more about our tutors.

The need for home tutors in South Africa

According to the 2014 Global Information Technology Report, under the sub-category, ‘skills’, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education comes in last place. South Africa fares behind the likes of Haiti, Lesotho, Chad, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya. Worse still, according to the World Economic Forum report, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education places it last out of 148 countries. This has resulted in an increase in the popularity of home tutors in South Africa.

Democratic Alliance education spokesperson Annette Lovemore said, the ministerial report exposes “gaping holes at every level of our education system.” The national education strategy is considered outdated; there is a major shortage of qualified teachers and, those who are qualified have been negatively affected by the curriculum changes over the last 10 years.

With a rise in unemployment, an increase in occupational requirements coupled with international competition and limited space for further study; a “quality education” is now, more than ever, “a crucial necessity for creating more globally competitive young adults, much-needed jobs and entrepreneurs,” says Lovemore.

So how do we as South Africans, or better yet, as students, move past and succeed in a country whose educational system and standards appear almost dismal?

I have been tutoring for 3 years and I cannot help but notice the dwindling amount of importance and enthusiasm some learners place on their education. Some of my learners receive exam notes that are so poorly printed even I cannot make out the words. If teachers (certainly not all) do not care enough to equip learners with the requirements to pass, how can we as parents or educators blame them?

Brightsparkz tutors employ only the best tutors to help fill any gaps and difficulties that your learner may be experiencing. By selecting the best tutor for the learner’s specific needs, BrightSparkz Tutors help them gain a greater level of enthusiasm for their education which is the first step in achieving academic success. Contact us about our home tutors in South Africa.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology