- No categories
- Choosing a preschool
- Why homeschooling works for some
- Preschool should prepare your child for Grade 1
- Choosing a preschool
- Help your child learn problem-solving skills
- Why kids *must* speak a second language
- 3 Schools in 3 years
- Endless to-do lists for back to school
- Homework blues
- Evaluating whether moving schools can help
- It’s never too late to change schools
- Getting ready for big school next year!
- Why I decided to homeschool
- 5 reasons why you should homeschool your child
- 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 Nadia Wilson, a passionate teacher, married with 3 dogs, a cat & a hamster. Reviews games and comic books. Teaches preschool children from Gr 00 and is learning Japanese and Mandarin. Find her on Facebook.
Just some points I think are really important to consider when choosing a preschool.
2. Is the school in your area?
3. Does the school have a good/bad reputation?
4. Do the teachers/staff get along?
I know you’re probably frowning now but an unhappy teacher equals an unhappy child. Children sense tension in their teachers, if the teachers argue or fight it affects their mood and the way they teach.
6. Is the school clean and sanitary?
7. Are the staff members friendly and helpful?
8. Are the teachers qualified?
9. Does at least one teacher have proper first aid training?
10. Are you allowed to ask about the curriculum and can you view the daily lesson plans?
11. Does the preschool communicate with the primary school? (If on primary school premises)
Good luck in finding a school that best suits your child and remember every child is different.
Click here to find a list of preschools in Gauteng.
By Willemien von Solms, mom to 2 sons who loves travelling, has worked as a journalist, editor and communications specialist. Currently works as executive head: Products at Impak Education, curriculum provider for homeschooling parents and centres.
Have you ever considered homeschooling your children? Perhaps you live on a remote farm or your special needs child cannot be accommodated in a mainstream school, or maybe your child is simply not getting the individual attention he deserves. These are just some of the reasons why a growing number of families are choosing homeschooling.
Take Jeanet Bezuidenhout, whose family lives on a farm near Stofberg in Mpumalanga. Long distances and poor roads made the decision to homeschool her two sons, aged 10 and 13, an easy one. Initially apprehensive about her ability to successfully teach her sons, Jeanet found that working with a reputable homeschool curriculum provider made all the difference. Apart from a drastic improvement in her sons’ marks, the family can now go on holiday together out of season when activities on the farm allow. “We can also all jump in and help when things get hectic.”
After homeschooling her children for 15 years, Estelle Joubert is now the proud owner of Jakkalskrans Akademie, an Impak academy just outside Lydenburg. When her daughter was diagnosed with severe OCD at a young age, the nearest remedial school was a 100 km away. “I started teaching her at home using Impak’s curriculum, which was flexible and could be adapted to meet my daughter’s unique needs.”
Both Jeanet and Estelle agree that homeschooling is a huge responsibility that requires enormous self-discipline and complete commitment from parents and children alike. But the benefits make the investment absolutely worthwhile.
If you find the thought of teaching your children yourself too daunting to contemplate, there is always the option of enrolling them with a homeschooling academy (http://jzk.co.za/2fn – link to jozikids homeschooling page) many of which focus on children who find adapting in mainstream schools a challenge. Characterised by small classes and qualified, dedicated staff, these tutors and academies can help your children achieve their full potential.
Click here to find a list of homeschooling services and products on Jozikids
By Brenda Leeman, devoted mommy to Connor, aged 6, a Registered Counsellor with a passion for helping children. Runs Chameleon Play Therapy Centre which offers School Readiness Assessments.
The year 2016 is in sight and some of you are now faced with the daunting task of choosing a pre-school for your little ones. Leaving your child in the care of strangers for 5 hours a day is no easy feat; but if you arm yourself with knowledge of what to look for in a pre-school, you’ll be much better prepared to face this new challenge.
One of the key roles of pre-school is to prepare your child for Grade 1
This can only be accomplished if the school follows an appropriate curriculum and has an assessment programme in place to catch scholastic issues early on. If the school is lacking in this area, I tend to call it a day care instead. A day care will not prepare your child for Grade 1.
Find out which primary schools the pre-school feeds and give them a call to find out how the children from said pre-school cope in Grade 1 compared to the rest of the class.
Be aware of your child’s emotional reaction to starting pre-school
The adjustment is difficult for any family, but let your instinct guide you here. If you feel that your child is not settling in fast enough, there might be an underlying issue that needs addressing sooner rather than later.
Are your child’s teachers trained to know when your child needs help?
It’s usually a given that your child’s teachers love working with children but this might not be enough. The high demand on our children to keep up with the class means that, for some of them, external therapeutic intervention will be necessary. A good pre-school will have a solid referral list of OTs, play therapists, audiologists, etc. In fact, a great pre-school will have them on site sometimes and available to talk to parents about their child’s particular needs.
Remember that your choice of pre-school is not irreversible
If you’ve exhausted your intervention strategies and your child is still not coping, then don’t feel bad for choosing to move. It’s less disruptive to your child to change pre-schools than it is to change primary schools. So remain sensitive to your child’s needs, both academically and emotionally; and never feel guilty for making hard decisions based on instinct.
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.
As a first time mom, finding and choosing a school for my daughter was one of the most daunting things I had to do. I had no idea what to look for, how to screen for potential problems, or even what the law was regarding the qualifications of teachers and preschool owners. And so my poor child, and then the next child too, got moved from school to school almost yearly before I decided to homeschool.
So let me just say, from the outset, that every school will have its problems. There is no such thing as a perfect school, but there may just be a perfect school for you and your child – one where they don’t bother about things that are not on your priority list and do care about the same things as you.
If I were to do it all again, I would do the following:
I would make a list of what was important to ME in terms of childcare. For example, it is important to me that my kids eat nutritious food and not junk, that their caregivers are caring and not overly disciplinarian, that there is no shaming or naughty corners or physical punishment, and that kids are allowed to be kids and have lots of free play.
I would absolutely INSIST on spending a week at the preschool with my child. Most schools discourage this as they say the kids settle quicker if the parents are not around, but a small child cannot articulate problems to you when they arise. I would like to see for myself how certain issues are handled. For example, at one school my kids were at I found out years later that if they cried they were shamed by being put into nappies. I knew my daughter was unhappy at the school (the school kept telling me she was very happy there) but she was only 4 and couldn’t express what it was that was bothering her.
I would hang around at the end of the day and chat to parents of kids who are already in the school. Of course the school will tell you they are marvelous, but you may get a different picture from the parents. I would have a list of questions for them such as what they like most and least about the school, if they’ve ever had an issue with a teacher and how the management handled it, etc. Get a broad overview from a number of people.
I would find out what qualifications each of the teachers has and what additional training they are exposed to on a regular basis. We had one teacher who had never even heard of a sensory integration disorder and so was shaming my child for coming to preschool in her pyjamas when she was tactile defensive and literally couldn’t handle wearing much else. The same teacher used sarcasm with her class (telling them she would cut their tongues out if they spoke in class), something that children can only cognitively start to comprehend at around age 8. Teachers need to be up to date on current research, childcare philosophies, and childhood growth and development.
Other questions I would ask the management would be around the size of the class, the teacher to child ratio, the teachers’ working hours, and even their salary if they will disclose that. I would want to know that the teachers are not overworked and underpaid and unhappy.
And lastly, I would trust my instincts. This was a tough lesson that I learned through all of this – where I had a feeling that things were not ok and yet when I asked I was told that my children were happy and playing and everything was fine.
You know your child. Trust that. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. And do not be afraid to change schools if you need to. Of course the ideal is to get your child into one school where they are happy and make friends and are settled, but kids can and do adapt to change. Keep looking until you are completely satisfied rather than settle for something less than ideal because you are afraid of making the change.
For us, in the end, homeschooling was what best suited all of our needs, but that is also not for everyone. There are pros and cons to both and you need to look at your unique family, your own values and needs and then find the best solution for you.
By Lientjie Young, mother of a beautiful 4 year old daughter, loves the sea and the tranquillity it offers. She has a passion for students and education. Previously a teacher and deputy head of a school, currently Head of Mathematics and Sciences at Impak Education.
The development of mathematical thinking is one of the most important reasons why kids do Maths at school. It is not simply about following the steps, but also about developing problem-solving skills. Unfortunately, it is not easy to develop these skills, and it is particularly challenging for teachers in today’s crowded classrooms where individual attention is not always possible.
Luckily, parents can make an important contribution in the lower grades by doing exercises with their children.
Help your child:
Understand the question
Parents must firstly understand the reason why many children do not try to solve problems on their own. It is because they are unsure what exactly the problem is that needs to be solved. As a parent, you can help by reading through the problem with your child, guiding them to discover exactly what the problem is that needs to be solved.
Once they know what needs to be solved, let them play around with ideas of how to solve the problem.
Think for themselves
While it is important not to leave your child alone at this stage, as they might give up on solving the problem, you must also remember that the goal is not to tell them what the next step is!
Children must discover what the next step is themselves and parents can help by encouraging them to think differently and find alternative ways to approach problems. Have a brainstorming session about why certain solutions will work and others might not.
Then let your child analyse all the information gathered in the brainstorming session and decide on the best possible solution. This is very difficult, especially for young children, as they are not usually given the opportunity to make “big” decisions with consequences by themselves.
Feedback is essential
Once the decision has been made, give your child feedback. Make sure that the feedback is always supportive and motivational. This process develops problem-solving skills and can be used in any subject area.
When parents guide their children to think and work independently, it builds self-confidence and they develop a passion for learning and even for life. In practice it would mean, for example, that parents encourage their children by exposing them to sources and experiences where additional information can be gathered in order to make a connection between the knowledge they already possess and the new mathematical knowledge. Allow your children to discover and experience on their own.
Mathematics offers children endless opportunities to discover and solve problems. Make an effort to join in and enjoy your children’s Mathematical journey. Instead of simply using Mathematics to develop mathematical skills, also use it to prepare them for the future.
My four-year-old is learning isiZulu. Her pre-school offers it in the form of a weekly class. But she’s also ‘studying’ isiZulu after school, every day of the week, with her nanny.
Why? Because I believe that being able to communicate with more than 70%* of our country’s people is an important part of being a South African citizen. I believe that sharing words makes people like each other, so it’s good for our souls. And I believe that bilingualism and multilingualism are healthy for children’s brains.
The cultural impact
Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Perhaps even more eloquently, according to Meryl Bailey of Linguamites (which is the monthly programme our nanny attends to learn to teach our child isiZulu), “There is great power in relationship-building through language learning,” especially in the context of current racial and cultural intolerance.
Language learning can teach children to respect other cultures, to identify with people from different backgrounds, and to grow up to be accepting, responsible and sensitive global citizens.
The cognitive impact
But beyond civil society, there are significant brain-related benefits inherent in child bilingualism, explains Meryl, including enhanced cognitive functioning, better memory, superior creative thinking, better problem-solving and the capacity for divergent thinking – as well as soft skills like adaptability and confidence.
Bottom line? An additional language can make your kid kinder and smarter.
A brief Q&A session
Here are some of the insights I gained during my interview with Meryl:
Q: How can speaking an African language improve racial tolerance?
A: By learning someone else’s language you are saying, “You are important, your culture is important and your ideas are important. I want to know who you are.” The divide between us can only get smaller when we say these things to one another.
Q: Why must white South African kids speak an African language?
A: Speaking an African language is part of a new South African identity we need to create in order to move forward as a nation. In the future, it has the potential to open doorways for our children and create opportunities we’ve never known before.
Q: *Why is isiZulu the African language of choice at Linguamites?
A: isiZulu is spoken as a first language by more than 20% of our country, while more than 50% of South Africans use it as a second language. As a Bantu language, isiZulu stands a learner in good stead to acquire other African languages.
Q: Going beyond African languages to European or Asian languages, how should a parent choose an additional language for his/her child to learn?
Q: Can you suggest some ways to help children acquire a second language?
A: The first requirement is regular access to a quality native speaker of that language, plus a lot of time exposed to the language. We’ve found that a ‘One-Person-One-Language’ policy is critical, so that there is no ‘mixing’ of languages across caregivers. It’s also important to start as young as possible.
Q: Can you suggest some tips for teaching small children new words?
Q: Why does Linguamites teach nannies to teach their own language?
A: Being a native speaker of a language is only the first step to being a good tutor. Just like there are courses to teach English as a foreign language, nannies must be taught to teach their language to children – using the necessary tools and methodology and developing the confidence and commitment to stick with it.
Back to our story
We’ve been following the Linguamites programme in our house for three months now and I can see the joy and pride our domestic worker derives from the process. My little one is also pretty chuffed with herself (tho’ not brave enough yet to chat to people she doesn’t know). We’ll get there. And ngiyojabula when we do.
GabKe is a full-time mom, chauffer, butler, personal shopper, tutor, law enforcer, coach, chef and librarian to daughters K (6) and G (4). As well as a doting wife to husband Etienne, a true gaming addict. Read about the everyday challenges she faces raising daughters that are only 18 months apart, and the often frustrating but always rewarding journey of being a mom.
My eldest daughter wasn’t planned, but to this day she is the happiest surprise I have ever had. I was younger than most moms of my generation and extremely naïve. I didn’t really have anyone guiding me in the right direction and hoped like hell I wasn’t gonna mess up my kids for good! I chose my daughter’s first formal school based on location, (yes, emphasis on naïve). The school was a private school, around the corner from my house, has a very good reputation and honestly, the only way you’re going to find out if a school is right for your child, is to send them there. I can assure you, schools do not divulge any bad habits on their part when you’re on the school tour. Once K started, I was quite surprised to find out that the Grade RRR classes only had an assistant for the first two weeks of the year until the kids were settled. Considering the amount of money you pay for private education, I truly wondered how one teacher was supposed to be responsible for twenty-five 3-4 year olds! Although I was not impressed with the situation, the other moms seemed OK with the idea, and heck, they probably know what they’re doing! K did her first two years there, Grade RRR & RR, and although she flourished educationally, we didn’t feel this was the right cultural fit for us. Due to my husband being Afrikaans, and both our kids are fully bilingual, we decided to try an Afrikaans school next which happened to be a public school as there aren’t too many private Afrikaans primary schools around.
To sum it up, this was disastrous. Admittedly, I was now used to the private school thing, but at the end of the day you at least expect the parents to wear shoes when fetching their kids and to not smoke on school grounds. Judgment aside, K’s education suffered. They watched a movie every day and coloured-in every day. This was not just based on my child’s testimony, but was evident in the work she brought home at the end of every term. She was now in Grade R but doing less work than she had in Grade RRR. To say the least, we were concerned. K’s teacher looked overworked and underpaid. You could see this was not where she wanted to be. The last straw for us was when a child on child molestation incident occurred at school, during playtime, on the school field – involving K. Naturally, as concerned parents, we contacted the school and demanded answers. To say the principal was not interested would be an understatement. He refused to believe that K had sustained any emotional damage and would only consult the other parents with a letter from K’s therapist. Even with the letter in hand, we, to this day, do not believe that the situation was ever brought up again. At this point we thought the best thing for K would be to remove her from the school, from the lack of education that she was receiving and from a spineless principal that really doesn’t have the children’s best interests at heart.
After that we found a lovely private school for K that is dual medium. Walking in there was like a breath of fresh air. The principal demands respect from her pupils and punctuality is non-negotiable. K’s teacher has such a passion for teaching and connects with each child on their level. We feel K is now receiving the best education available and it feels like home. Our motto is: third time lucky!
By Fatima Kazee, fulltime mum to Imaad (9), Zayn(7) and Zahreen (4), part-time wife to fisherman husband Aadil. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey & is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.
The holidays have come and gone… Even the beach sand that so stubbornly stuck to my kids’ bottoms has finally been washed away. Tan lines are disappearing and that tedious New Year’s resolution list has been forgotten already. One thing that never fails to come around though is ‘back to school’.
Don’t get me wrong. I like routine, I thrive on it. I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays and not having to shower everyone by 7am, not having to force the oats down their throats (they can eat those dreadful sugar-coated cereals during the holidays) and giving them endless chores to do every day. (can you hear that evil laugh?)
The thing is that it just seems like such a mountain of to-do lists that I need to get through just to get started with January. And that’s only dealing with the kids and their school stuff. Each year, their school shoes and socks look as though something tried to grow out of them (right, that’s the kids growing out of them). They suddenly grow longer arms and legs in one month and all this means dragging them to buy new uniforms. Then there’s those darn stationery lists! Why exactly am I buying 12 sticks of glue? Do they eat them and is that why they’re growing so fast? And that’s just for one kid and I have 3. So it’s walking around with 3 lists trying to find the most reasonably priced brands but ones that aren’t made to last a day.
Thereafter we have the labelling. Each individual pencil, sharpener, eraser and all those impossibly small things that my impatient hands can’t handle. And ‘the help’ usually can’t understand why I like to have all the labels on the pencils facing the same way and on the same spot.
Anyway, once all the admin is done with, there’s the task of convincing my middle son that all good things come to an end. That grade 2 will be much more exciting than grade 1 and that if he promises not to lose his brand new lunch box within the first week, I’ll take him on a beach holiday in December (there’s that evil laugh again). And once school starts, it’s like a well-oiled machine with daily lunch-making, extra mural timetables, homework and early nights to bed.
Good luck to all the mums and dads especially those with first time school-goers.
Click here to find a list of other articles written by Fatima Kazee
By Fatima Kazee, fulltime mum to Imaad (8), Zayn(6) and Zahreen (3), part-time wife to fisherman husband Aadil. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey & is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.
So I recently posted on Facebook about how excited I get when the kids come home with no homework for the day. Of the 32 people that liked the post, 1 was my husband purely because I think he can sense from the mood when he comes home that there’s been no frustration on that day. The other 31 were all mothers who probably feel the same way as I do. And I’m guessing that there are many more that can relate.
Look I’m not lazy when it comes to doing homework. Ok, maybe only when it’s long division because that stuff just confuses me beyond words! It’s more of an issue because of the amount of homework the kids get these days. My boys are in grade 3 and grade 1 and having to spend at least an hour and a half each day with homework is just craziness. With the elder one it’s not so bad, he does most of it by himself and I have to just check it. With the younger one, who also happens to be the middle child, it’s a fighting, screaming, crying (mostly by me) episode most days. I have to beg and bribe him just to sit down, he hates it, does it untidily just to get it done and even resorts to ‘forgetting’ his books at school just to avoid having to do it. And all this in grade 1 only!
I’ve tried all sorts of tactics to get him writing his letters correctly and the right way round, to do his sums neatly and to read his mind-numbingly boring readers with some enthusiasm, but he couldn’t care less. He thinks it’s all a waste of his time as he doesn’t use it at all and he won’t need it one day when he grows up and becomes a robot maker. (Maybe he’ll create one that does homework for kids) He doesn’t follow the instructions – use a red colour to show the smaller object – no; he’ll just use blue to show how much he feels it’s a waste of time. And it’s not that he can’t do it or that he doesn’t understand the work. He just doesn’t get enough time to play and unwind.
I agree. By the time they’re done with school, extra murals in school and Islamic classes after school, its 4.30pm and there’s hardly any time for free play. I don’t remember getting that much homework or my mum having to sit with me every day, breaking her head with homophones (yes I now know what those are), nouns and number lines. Don’t they have enough time during school to finish all the work? Are children nowadays not as bright as before so they need extra work?
And all the while that I grit my teeth and wade through the mountains of Maths, English and Afrikaans, I think about how much harder it’s going to get as they get older. I have friends with older kids who find it necessary to point this out to me. Even if they didn’t, I can see it in their sallow faces having been up till 11pm helping with science assignments and art projects. Then again, maybe we’re all just over-parenting…
By Susan Friese, mother of twins, passionate teacher and counsellor with a post-graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has Springbok colours in Martial arts, teaches Kung Fu in her spare time and runs a study centre for Cambridge students called To Educate Academics
A multitude of factors play a role when removing a child from one schooling environment and placing them in another, from professional assessment to mummy knows best to what does the child WANT to do.
This is a starting point where you can explore what your child is actually capable of and whether he/she is achieving this in their current situation. This can be a school readiness test, an IQ test, tests for cognitive impairment or numerous other psychological issues. You can also explore issues such as whether a child is distracted by having other kids in the class or if there are home issues creating obstacles to learning.
For example, if you and your spouse are having marital problems, now is really not the time to start homeschooling your kids. Instead it would be the time to find them a supportive academic environment that is removed from the home and can provide a fall-back safe space for the child. Somewhere to escape to if needs be and act like a kid, not a buffering zone.
Of course one also needs to remember that extreme emotional conditions will contribute to a child scoring lower on an IQ test than if she were happy! So if she is unhappy she will not appear as bright as she could otherwise. The counsellor or psychologist can guide you towards alternative schools (or indeed a return to mainstream) or treatment where necessary but use your instinct as a parent to make the final decision.
Conformism vs growth
Shouldn’t kids learn to conform to prepare them for ‘varsity and the workplace? The real answer is no.When I was unhappy at my government school the psychologist I saw for IQ testing urged my parents to keep me in a traditional environment so I would learn to conform, thank god my parents didn’t listen! As soon as I moved to a new, freer environment I blossomed. I finally started achieving academically and growing emotionally.
Did Einstein fit into school? No, he dropped out and went on to achieve remarkable feats. Did Richard Branson succeed in school? No. Before Branson quit school, his headmaster told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. And many people assumed the former. Of course these people are exceptions and exceptional but it does show that not every child will fit in and they should not be forced to. They should be free to consider an alternative environment where different focuses are apparent. That may be a more sporting environment or a ballet school. It may be a study centre with a focus on creativity. It may be a college where teachers are more permissive. It could be a remedial school. It could be your home. Whatever you child needs, allow them to discuss it with you.
A child on the autism spectrum is not going to “get better” by staying in a school where he is bullied. He will not adjust and learn to get on with it. A painfully shy child will not “come out of her shell” if forced to do PE in a swimsuit in front of the whole school (we had to do this at my old school, it was mortifying). For many kids this is all fine and good and well. But what if it’s not? What if your child is the one who doesn’t fit in?
I left a government school at the end of the 3rd term to move to a Cambridge centre. I completed 5 levels in 6 weeks. I have 2 degrees and a passion for education that extends beyond my textbooks. I am the owner/operator of a study centre in Randburg where students complete an international high school syllabus though Cambridge and become happy and healthy individuals.
The teen spirit is a unique and vibrant entity, don’t let it be quashed.