Parents play a critical role in providing learning opportunities at home and in linking what children learn at school with what happens elsewhere. The term ‘academic socialisation’ refers to certain kinds of parental behaviours which have a positive impact on learning and academic outcomes. When parents reinforce learning at home by incorporating learned skills into everyday routines and activities, they become a critical factor in their child’s overall learning and education. Research has found that learning becomes more meaningful when the lessons are applied to real-life situations; it has been suggested that the influence of parents on learner achievement is 60-80%, while school accounts for 20-40% per cent.

In particular, parents can have a significant impact on three areas of a child’s learning:

  • Working memory: which refers to short-term memory. Children rely on both incoming information and information stored in their working memory to complete an activity. If they have a weak working memory, they will struggle to juggle both;
  • Response inhibition: this refers to a child’s ability to postpone, withhold, or stop inappropriate behaviour;
  • Cognitive flexibility: is a child’s ability to shift their attention as the demands of the environment or the task change.

In developing working memory, parents can assist their children to remember homework assignment due dates by devising a plan to complete these assignments. It is also beneficial for parents to encourage their child to discuss previous lessons or assignments, and ways in which to apply them in different contexts. Response inhibition on the other hand can be strengthened when parents help their children avoid distraction when doing assignments, and by encouraging them not to abandon tasks if they are struggling. Lastly, cognitive flexibility can be improved when parents help their children recognise when their homework or lesson plan needs to change due to external circumstances, or a child’s mood or emotional state.

Parents also have an important role to play in monitoring and guiding their child’s schooling, this will also provide opportunities for parents to assist their child in setting goals and creating plans of action to meet these goals which in turn develop a child’s organisational skills.

These steps cannot be mastered overnight, but through practice, parents not only enhance the quality of their child’s learning experiences, but also develop a stronger bond with their children.

Mind Power for Kids

Every parent dreams of having a happy, resilient child who can navigate through life and remain positive and focused. We cannot make life easier for our children but we can give them the tools to thrive. Think Digital offers a Mind Power for Kids course which equips children (ages 6 – 12) with the knowledge of how their mind works and how they can use this knowledge to live the life they have dreamed of.

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For generations, we have grown up in classrooms where we learnt the same information at the same pace, regardless of our interests or needs – the ‘one size fits all’ approach. The dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, has shone a light on the need to take a different approach to learning and teaching. For example, e-learning, which refers to the use of information and communication technologies to enable the access to online learning and teaching resources, has the benefit of flexibility; convenience; cost effectiveness and immediacy. In addition, a dynamic e-learning platform not only meets the needs of different students, but it also enriches learning in classroom settings.

While many schools are taking a stop-gap approach to e-learning during this lockdown period, the need for more long-term solutions has brought to the fore a variety of e-learning options. This can be particularly daunting for many parents, as this is simply not a technology that we grew up with, and of which we have very little experience. As such, it is important to note that effective e-learning is not as simple as distributing traditional content on digital platforms; it requires content to be adapted to these platforms, and aligned with ongoing assessments and support to ensure mastery of the various syllabi levels.

When evaluating the different e-learning options for your child, it is essential that:

  • content is engaging and interactive;
  • learners be guided through their subjects by online teachers;
  • learners engage with their subjects through assignments and projects;
  • learners receive electronic feedback on their learning;
  • learners have platforms on which to interact and collaborate with each other (for example through blogs and discussion forums);
  • there is a way in which parents can monitor their child’s progress.

Based on these criteria, select an option that will ignite a drive for life-long learning in your child. Ultimately, we are at the cusp of an exciting transformation in our education sector, one that will revolutionise the learning and teaching environment, and change your child’s education and employment trajectory for the better.

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The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant closure of schools, has led to a new educational crisis.

While school closures are important to contain the coronavirus in South Africa, a comprehensive catch-up plan for learners has yet to be devised by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga. The Minister on the other hand, is leaving it up to each province, district, circuit and school to develop their own comprehensive catch-up plan. Currently only ten schooling days will be lost, which will be caught up by shortening the mid-year break, but the length, and extent, of the disruption to schooling is hard to predict at this stage with some experts forecasting that schools will only reopen at the end of April, or even May. The reality is, that very few schools in our country are able to administer e-learning, and critically, to ensure that learning material is adapted to alternative platforms such as tablets.

Many parents are unable to direct their child’s schooling during this period, either because they themselves are working remotely or have younger siblings to take care of. This leads to a significant amount of stress and tension in the home, with further undue pressure being placed on parents, particularly those with children in matric.

In order to assist learners during the shut-down, Think Digital Academy, a registered online school for Grade R to 12, is offering their full curriculum to South African learners for R500 or up to an 80% discount for Term 2. Rather than returning to school, and trying frantically to catch up with the year’s academic programme, Think Digital Academy will enable students to keep up to date with their school year. Parents can rest assured that their children are deriving the full benefit of a normal school day, remotely, through Think Digital Academy’s structured learning programme.

Students will be able to watch lessons, complete activities, projects and even take assessments to measure their progress while parents are able to pull weekly reports on their child’s activity. The CAPS curriculum is available in both English and Afrikaans, and all lessons are taught by qualified teachers, are interactive and perfectly aligned to the CAPS and British International syllabi. In addition, learners will receive free access to Think Digital Academy’s new Coding and Robotics course.

In these uncertain times, Think Digital Academy takes away the ‘what ifs’, and ensures that your child’s education, and future, is not compromised.

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The school placement chaos at the beginning of this year highlighted a very scary reality – we simply do not have enough good schools in Gauteng, South Africa.

A number of schools faced a very high enrolment demand as parents clamoured to ensure their children have a place in a school of excellence, while many schools, particularly in townships, were virtually empty. The result is that oversubscribed schools are forced to make use of mobile classrooms which are barely conducive to quality teaching and learning. These schools’ resources become constrained, with the average number of learners reaching 60 per class. This puts additional pressure on our teachers, and makes it a near impossibility that our students will be provided with the strong foothold they so desperately need if they are to succeed in high school and beyond.

It has been predicted that by 2020, Gauteng will still be short of 1373 classrooms at existing schools. This means that even at the accepted ration of 40 pupils per class‚ almost 55 000 pupils will be in over-crowded classrooms in three years.

At the same time, it’s calculated that 10% of the country’s teachers are absent from school each day, while a Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) found that 79% of South African Grade 6 maths teachers were classified as having content knowledge levels below the level at which they were teaching. This problem is compounded by a lack of support for teachers and insufficient professional development. In addition, the Centre for Development and Enterprise predicted that South Africa would need to have 456 000 teachers by 2025 to offer our children a quality education, this is 46 000 more than we currently have, and between 18 000 and 22 000 teachers leave the profession every year.

So as parents, how do we deal with high student ratios; a lack of resources; a shortage of qualified teachers in subjects like mathematics and physical sciences; a lack of discipline in our classrooms that disrupts teaching and learning, and absenteeism of teachers who are burnt out trying to cope with big classes and poor learner behaviour?

We simply have to think beyond traditional teaching and learning methods. It is time to consider virtual schools as a viable option for ensuring our children receive the best education possible, and are equipped with the skills needed for the future of work in this country.

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