- Dealing with your child’s school report
- The school dilemma – taking action
- Finding a school for Grade 1- what a mission!
- Are your kids getting too much homework?
- Parenting help and quality pre-schools with 24/7 internet monitoring
- Is my child ready for big school?
- Focus on the facts to reduce anxiety at school
- Settling back into school routines
- What if your child can’t go to a mainstream school?
- Homeschooling vs traditional school, a mother’s experience
- Back to school checklist and parent-baby/toddler groups
- Your child’s ADHD, schools and teachers
- Our homeschooling journey
- Why I homeschool my child
- School’s out forever and a new phase begins in my son’s life
- Public vs private schooling
- Playschool and big boy beds
- Pre-school teachers needed
- When can kids miss school?
- Are we educating kids for the future?
- School projects
- Help me find a school for my son
- Surviving sport and school as a single mom
By Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.
I guess I was lucky at school to be one of those straight A students, as I can still remember the absolute dread with which many of my friends received their report cards at the end of the year. Not that they cared too much about the marks themselves – it was the fear of facing their disappointed parents that caused the term-end blues. So heading towards that dreaded day, what can we do as parents to help our kids to address any problem areas without damaging their self-esteem or love of learning?
I think the answer to this comes in looking at what a report card really is. First off, it is NOT a measure of who your child is as a person. They may have failed the year, but they are not a failure. As parents we really have to help our kids to make the distinction between who they are and what they do, and the best way to do this is to express our unconditional love for them no matter what the report card says.
A report is simply a measure of how a child managed to perform on certain standardized tests. If they come back with a low mark, it does not help to attack them for their “laziness” or anything else. What we need to do is assess what went wrong where. And this may even have nothing to do with the child themselves – it may be that the teacher was incompetent, or the test was not an accurate measure of what was learned, or it may be a reflection of other issues – family problems, changes at home or at school, bullying… there are so many things going on in our children’s lives that we will miss if we simply blame them without digging deeper.
On the other hand, we also need to be careful of over-praising a child with a “good” report. Once again, the report is not a measure of who the child is or their worthiness of our love and attention. Many over-achievers get the idea early on that they are only loved if they perform well and this sets them up for a life of stress and workaholism! The opposite may also be true, with children who are praised for good work giving up sooner or never even trying things that they may not be good at for fear of losing this “good girl/boy” status.
The appropriate response to a report card, in my opinion, is to ask the child what they think about their own report. Ask them how they feel about areas they struggled in and how you could assist them. Ask them how they feel about areas they did well in and if they need any additional stimulation. Use the report card as a discussion around what is going on in their lives and at school, and not as a measure of their self worth. If they have failed something, it is a great opportunity to discuss some of the great failures in history and how they never gave up.
And regardless of what it says, give them as big hug and a kiss and tell them you love them no matter what.
by Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life
Shakira Sheikh recently wrote an article for Jozikids on the difficulties in finding a school for Grade 1, which clearly resonated with many of you on a very deep level. I also have kids both in Grade R and Grade 1 and so empathise deeply with this struggle. It is natural to feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness at the current lack of schools, and yet the best solution I have found to these feelings has always been taking action.
Here are some ideas to get you going…
- Homeschooling is always one option to look at, and if you spend some time online you will find many homeschooling groups where mother’s get together and support each other and help their kids to socialize.
- A private tutor is another option, and while this may at first seem outside of your financial reach, if there are so many mothers in the same situation (and it certainly sounds like there are) why not join together and hire someone for a group of kids – look for a retired teacher or two looking for part-time work.
- Look up and support local NPOs who are working to resolve this problem. A great one that I found recently is 2Enable.org, who are looking at setting up free educational programs that can be accessed online, specifically with the aim of alleviating the current lack of good teachers in the country.
- Speak to local businesses and schools about joining together in initiatives to create new classrooms and sponsor more teachers.
- Raise awareness of the issue – speak to your local radio stations, newspapers, and magazines. Write to the relevant governmental departments. Protest.
- Call the government to task on this and on the general issue of how your tax money is being spent. Start a petition. Email them daily.
- VOTE. When local and national elections come around, make sure you are in the voting queue. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain about the state of the roads/schools/healthcare and yet they chose not to vote when the time came. If you’re not happy with what the current government is doing, vote them out.
- Contact your Ward Councilor, explain the problem you’re having and brainstorm solutions. Call a meeting in your area.
These are just a few ideas to get you going, but chat with your friends in the same situation and see what other ideas you can come up with. Share them here too and get this conversation going. Remember that complaining about an issue takes time and energy – the same time and energy can be spent in working towards solutions.
There is a lovely quote by Lily Tomlin that is quite apt in this situation:
“I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that’. Then I realized, I am somebody”.
My husband and I recently moved from Durban to Joburg with our 2 little boys, one of whom is approaching Grade 1. When we started looking for a school for him we had no idea what we would have to go through. WOW what a mission, what a process! We’re still in it and waiting. This is what we’ve had to do so far:
We researched and found 2 schools we were interested in. After discovering that they only accepted pupils living within a certain km radius, we decided to move homes to be closer to the schools. Lucky for us we found one close to both.
We had to fetch application packs from each school and then collect extensive documentation for both parents with certified copies of Ids, birth certificates, clinic cards, proof of residence and then initialize every page.
Start queueing at 4am or camp out!
The schools set aside 3 days for submissions which they say they only accept on a first come first served basis. This means that if you are number 13 in the queue your child will be number 13 on the list.
When I queried this with the schools, I was told most parents start lining up outside the schools from about 4 am to ensure they are first on the list
So we found a family member to look after our kids while my hubby and I went to wait in line at 4am. We each chose a different school. When I got there I was no 3 while he found he was no 6 in line already!
I discovered that most of the other parents queueing with me had done the same as us. Their partners were also waiting in line at other schools in the region, with some who had people who had camped out the night before.
Thank goodness the gates at the school opened for submissions at 5.30 am. When it was my turn however I discovered I had another questionnaire to fill out, one the Education Department had forgotten to insert in the original submissions packs.
At least I managed to get it all done. What a relief that stage one is over
Waiting game begins
It’s over but its not, as we were told that we have another 4 months to wait, before we will know whether our son has been accepted or not. What happens to those who aren’t? Do they have to start all over again?
The lengths we as parents have to go to make sure we get the best for our kids. Why does it have to be so hard? What about parents that can’t move houses and find someone to look after their kids so they can queue at 4am? This really doesn’t seem fair
What do you think and can you relate to my experience? Is it the same in other parts of the country outside of Gauteng?
by Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life
Homework is an essential part of learning independent work and self-discipline… and I think that kids are getting far too much of it. Homework should be given out with this specific purpose in mind and not because there is so much schoolwork that it can’t fit in to the school day.
If kids are getting too much, it is your responsibility as a parent to take a stand. Get together with other parents in your child’s class and have something to say about it. Play, fresh air, fun and down-time are as important to a child’s development as formalised learning and discipline, particularly in the Foundation and Intersen Phases.
This fits in to what I have said before about too many extra murals: Children, like all human beings, need time to be – not busy performing or excelling or proving their worth, just being.
So how much is too much? If you look logically at the typical day of a school child this should become obvious:
6am-7am Waking and getting ready for school
7am-2pm School time
2pm-3pm Sport / extra murals
5pm-7pm Dinner, bathing etc.
7pm-8pm Story time or quiet time
8pm-6am Sleep (children of 7-10 years need around 10-11 hours per night)
This only leaves between 3pm-5pm for homework AND games, TV time, outdoor time, playdates etc. I would say that anything more than around half an hour per day is unreasonable at Primary School level, and certainly not more than an hour.
Look logically at your child’s day and make sure there is always down-time, unscheduled time, time to just be.
Life needs to be in balance and we need to help our kids with this by not overscheduling their time, by taking a stand on homework and by modeling this for our kids by getting enough rest and down-time ourselves.
If you haven’t discovered it yet, Jozikids.co.za is the most up to date and detailed resource for parents in the Gauteng region to find what you need including events, activities, venues, parties and lessons. You’ll also find us on your cell phone, twitter and Facebook.
Opti-Baby Open Day, Midrand, Oct 6, Nov 3, Rosebank 26 + 27 Oct. Opti- Baby and Kids provides a combination of world class early childhood development (ECD) integrated into 7:00am-5:30pm day care for 0-5 year olds at wonderful, secure, and convenient facilities. These schools cater for babies from 6 weeks until 5 years old and are all Internet Monitored. Therefore Parents can monitor their little one from work to have total peace of mind. Currently there are 4 branches in Johannesburg and 4 branches in Pretoria, with another 2 to open in Johannesburg and another 2 branches in Pretoria – February 2013.
Fantastic special deal on the Jozikids Website – If Parents enrol now before the 14th of December, they will pay only R1000 registration fee instead of the R2200.00 registration fee. All the open-days are listed on the Opti-Baby website, and Parents must print the Jozi-Kids deal voucher and bring it with.
Internet Security Course, Ladybird, Orange Grove, Joburg, Oct 7, 10-12.30, parents and teens. Learn how to use the internet safely, know how to avoid scams or threats of cyber net I.D. fraud, know how to protect your children. Koos Herselman, a stress and trauma consultant, shows us how to implement internet security in our daily lives.
Taking the Blues out of Bullying, Equal Zeal Centurion, Oct 4-5. The main outcomes of the workshop includes your child learning:
•The essence of popularity and friendship
•Why it is important to have empathy for a bully
•Definitions of bullying
•The difference between bullying and just fooling around
•To take responsibility for actions
•To choose how to respond to bullies
•Empowering techniques to use when in a bullying situation
•Stress relieving techniques
Tools for Kids and Teens, Bella Vida Bryanston, Oct 4,5. Kids will learn valuable and useful tools for life to unlock their ability to deal with life in a pro-active and dynamic way. There will be rol-playing, interactions, group discussions and guidance.
Adoptmom is coming to Joburg, Green Genes, Craighall Park, Oct 8, 6.30-8pm. Infertility and adoption talk. Coping with the emotions of infertility problems and looking at adoption as an option
Discover Your Potential Study Skills Sandton, Sep 30 for Gr 4-12, Sandton. The Foundation for Excellent Learning-The course will be presented by Noel Grey, a specialist remedial teacher, who trained in London and is currently teaching at a top private school in Johannesburg. In her own words, “These skills are essential and every child should be taught how to learn.” Learning Styles,Self Esteem,Organisational Skills, Time Management, Goal Setting, Note Taking Skills,Exam Techniques.
By Brenda Leeman, devoted mommy to Connor, aged 3, a Registered Counsellor with a passion for helping children. Runs Chameleon Play Therapy Centre which offers School Readiness Assessments.
My child is old enough for school; why doesn’t that mean he’s ready for school? I’m sure the answer to that is obvious when you look at the vast difference between those children excelling in grade 1 and those who are struggling. Here are some issues and tools you should consider when making your decision.
School Readiness Testing
What this describes is a test that will give parents an indication of what kind of school to put their children in, what level of functioning they can expect from their children for the first year of school, and, most importantly, an idea of their child’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to schoolwork. All these factors can then be taken into consideration in order for families to create a supportive study programme catering specifically to their child’s needs.
When looking for the right school for your child check out:
A School’s Reputation
Talk to the parents of children currently attending the school. If parents are happy with their child’s school, they are usually more than happy to sing its praises. (I know I do.) You know exactly what special attention your child needs, so ask questions related specifically to this.
Role Of the Teachers
A very important factor when deciding is understanding the role of the teachers. Your child will be spending a great deal of their time next year with their new teacher, possibly even more time than they spend with you. It is so imperative that your child has a good relationship with their teachers, as this promotes an unthreatening environment for the child to raise their concerns. Children are more likely to tell a teacher that they don’t understand something if they know the teacher will provide unconditional acceptance and support in response. Talk to the Grade 1 teachers at the school before deciding to put your child in their care. This is definitely the time to use your “gut feelings” – you will know if your child is in good hands or not.
An added bonus for any school, is the availability of extra-curricular physical activities. Your child should have the opportunity to not only work their mind, but their body too. The benefits of sport are innumerable. Physical activities will calm an anxious child down and improve their self-confidence. These skills can be channelled back into the classroom in order to promote academic achievement.
by Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.
It’s back to school time again, and looking back on my own school history I can definitely remember a fair amount of anxiety mixed in with the excitement of seeing my friends after a long winter break.
Had I known then what I know now, I know that the simple exercise of separating fact and fiction could have had a huge impact on my back-to-school blues. Which is why I share it with you now…
When it comes to judging an event and how we’re going to react to it emotionally, it is definitely time to separate fact from fiction, and to help your kids to get into the habit of doing this too.
Fact: I have to go back to school tomorrow.
Fiction: This term is going to be just as bad as the last one.
Fact: I failed the test.
Fiction: I am a failure.
Fact: I only have one friend at school at the moment.
Fiction: Nobody loves me.
It may seem obvious when we write it out like this, but almost all adults, and the majority of kids are doing this all the time. Stress, negative feelings, bad news, these don’t come from the situation itself but from your interpretation of it. And kids need to learn to reserve judgement on situations and particularly on what other people say about them.
No matter how good a parent you are at home, your kids have to go out to school and into the world where not everyone is as conscious as you about their effect on other people. Kids need to be resilient and judge situations on fact not fiction.
If someone says something nasty about your child, you need to prime your kid to not take it on – to accurately assess it as someone else’s fiction and go with the facts of who they know they are. For example, if one child says to another, as they do, “You are a poophead”, and your child is upset, use this as an opportunity to get them into the habit of assessing the situation by saying, “Are you a poophead? NO. Your friend is probably just upset…
Fact: Your friend called you a poophead.
Fiction: You are a poophead!
This little skill gives kids control over their emotions and reactions in any situation, including the first day back at school.
By Brenda Leeman, devoted mommy to Connor, aged 3, a Registered Counsellor with a passion for helping children. Chameleon Play Therapy Centre is her brainchild
Oh goodness. Just when you thought life couldn’t get any more hectic, your little treasures are back at school. Now your job is to help them settle into a routine, feel confident and relax.
1. Help them feel responsible
Use this opportunity to start empowering your children. Make them responsible for getting themselves dressed in the morning. Implement a reward system for getting their homework done, as well as their chores if they have any. It will improve their sense of integrity and lift their self-confidence. For their achievement, children should also be allowed to choose their own rewards.
2. Be interested, not overbearing
Put your children’s interests on your interest list. No matter how irrelevant you think it is, it is so important for them. Chat to your children about their day at school, about what they liked or didn’t like, about who inspires them and who bores them. I know your days are busy, so use the time in the car on the drive home; or perhaps around the dinner table to talk to them about their school experience. It’s important to be interested in their lives, but not necessarily the problem-solver. If your child presents you with an issue they might be having at school, rather listen to them about their ideas on how to solve it. Positively reinforce any ideas they may have, even if you think they are doomed to fail. This is a learning opportunity for them, allow them the opportunity to learn from it.
3. Keep an eye open for return issues
If your child was having an emotional problem in the previous term, and it reappears now; it’s an indication that all is not well at school. There may be issues with teachers, or peers, or the work content in general. This will impact on their emotional well-being. If your child starts to react at home with temper tantrums, or severe emotional detachment, it may be a good idea to find out what’s going on. If you can’t get them to talk to you, consider taking them to a therapist. Any intervention will help improve their self-esteem, social skills, and even their school marks.
For parents of preschool children who are considering sending your children to “big school” next year, it is a good idea to get them tested for school readiness. This will give you an indication on whether they are ready for the intellectual challenge they are about to undertake.
by Stacey Vee, parenting journalist and the writer of an award-winning blog about raising what she calls ‘a whole family with special needs’. Mom to Travis the Lionheart (5 yrs) who has a rare brain malformation called Septo Optic Dysplasia and baby Ryan, affectionately called the Squishy Gorilla (7 mnths). Read about the Lionhearts here .
“Travis will never go to a normal school.”
It hurt, hearing those words coming from our first-born’s paediatric neurologist, but we needed to hear them. Up until that point my husband and I had been clinging to the belief that if we put in the hard work while our son was a toddler – hours of intense sessions occupational, physio and speech therapy – we could ‘fix’ Travis in time for him to go to ‘big school’. We couldn’t be more wrong.
The thing is: educating a child with special needs is a no-man’s land. The Department of Education doesn’t support nor recognise curriculums that have been adapted for students who are intellectually challenged. Don’t get me wrong, there are schools that focus on children with autism, and remedial schools for children with various learning challenges.
But schools for children like Travis, whose disabilities means that he’ll likely never achieve any kind of independence, never mind make any contribution to the economy…
In the year that Travis would begin Grade 1, which is 2014, we’ll have to apply to the Department of Education for exemption for him to attend mainstream schooling as provided by our government. And that’s it – the only, brief and final contact Travis will ever have with South Africa’s education system.
Unlike in developed countries such as the United States, where state authorities go out of their way to accommodate children like Travis, even pairing him with a carer who’d accompany him to school each day and assist him in class, in our country it’s left up to the parents.
So what were we to do? For families like ours, your options are:
We went for option three.
You might wonder, why bother educating a mentally disabled boy? At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. When you look back on your school days, do you remember the time you learnt how to do algebra, or do you remember making your first friend and sharing sandwiches on the playground?
We found a school for Travis, the Wiggles and Squiggles Special Needs Academy in Boskruin, where the principal has adapted the Montessorri curriculum for children like Travis. He has an IEP, or an independent education programme, where each term we work towards simple goals. This year one of his goals is to master his pencil-grip. Last year another of his goals was: learn to blow your nose!
Travis gets a report, and we attend regular parent-teacher sessions. We don’t feel like we’re just going through the motions or wasting our money. Instead of being side-lined by the education system, we’ve re-worked the system to suit us. Travis is in the school of life, and his life has value, no matter
P.S. The photos in this article of my family and I were taken by Noleen Foster Photography
Click here to find schools for children with special needs
by Nazmeera Moonda, mom to 4 beautiful children, Arabic teacher, loves travelling and cooking, endlessly curious about the world and invaluable Jozikids staff member.
As a mother of four amazingly different children, I have often thought of homeschooling them myself.. My reasons being twofold: financial affordability and to inculcate my value systems .
I felt that my kids would be able to learn at their own pace and cover more subject matter in less time. I wanted to incorporate religious and secular studies under one value system.
I tried homeschooling my five year old when I returned from the Middle East in 2011. For a while she was happy to learn with me and she picked up very quickly. However, after a few months she wanted to have friends and got bored at home. I noticed too that she became withdrawn even with family members that she was familiar with.
Eventually after 3 months I enrolled her in a preschool and she enjoyed being with kids her age rather than spending time with her 3 year old sister. She has also became more confident.
My husband and I have considered re-introducing homeschooling again. In my experience, the only down side is the lack of social interaction with peers where the children can be too sheltered and isolated. The ideal would be to have a network of homeschooling parents with kids of similar ages and to meet regularly or to even have a classroom of kids where parents involve themselves collectively in the teaching process
The advantages of going to a school are the discipline and routine. Children are more aware of and integrate into our multiracial society which equips them better for the real world. It also exposes them to the harsh realities and existence of bullies and they learn to participate in healthy competition and team activities.
In the end I believe that parents are their children’s most important role models. If you lead by example the child will adopt those values. Even if they learn bad habits it can be undone by practically reiterating your principles and values until they are old enough to distinguish between right and wrong.
Click here to find a list of preschools in Gauteng.
Click here to find oganisations that offer services and products for parents homeschooling their kids.