There’s no such thing as too much research

The conventional to online schooling transition shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a big decision. As a parent, invest time, energy and effort into making your decision. There’s no such thing as too much research.

We recommend taking time to understand how online learning will benefit your child. Which online schooling features should you look for in an institution? Moreover, how will this transition affect you as a parent?

Many parents make the mistake of doing minimal research and diving head-first into this transition. Avoid making this mistake. Prepare yourself and gain more insight into making the switch. This will help you choose the right institution and begin this journey on a good foundation.

Use this checklist during the research process:

1. What are the benefits of switching to online learning?

Flexibility – working at your own pace, safety, convenience, the ability to tailor your child’s learning according to their needs, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

2. Which online school is right for my child?

Prioritise experience and faculty expertise. The institution should have at least 5 years’ experience and a qualified, experienced, skilled, trained and empathetic faculty. They should also use a recognised, accredited and well-rounded curriculum. Additionally, they must equip students with top-notch resources and tools.

3. Can I resume work/chores while my child attends online school?

The answer to this question is imperative. Choose an online school that completely takes the reins so that you, as a parent, don’t have to intervene continuously. At Think Digital Academy, you can rest assured knowing that we teach, while you parent. You should be able to resume work/chores without being required to constantly check in on your child. To make this task easier, we’ve designed a parent tool that enables you to monitor your child’s progress easily and effortlessly. Our weekly activity reports are emailed directly to your inbox, every Monday morning. This report details your child’s activity on the system and tracks their progress. All you need to do is check that they’re making positive progress. Many institutions don’t offer parental leeway, so dig deeper and find one that does.

Create two schedules: one for your child and one for yourself

As you switch to online schooling, you should have scheduling down to a tee: both for your child and yourself. Start by creating a balanced schedule for your child. Once their pre-recorded lessons end for the day, they should enjoy a handful of activities that promote personal and social growth.

Allocate some time for sports, skill-building, extracurricular activities, hobbies, excursions, socialisation with friends and/or family and so on. At Think Digital, we’ve created an opportunity for students to join a selection of live, virtual Clubs and Societies to ensure that skill-building continues even outside the online learning environment. This will help your child have an active learning experience following their classes.

Similarly, set up a schedule for yourself. Break your day into slots. Fit work and leisure into these slots. Your day should already be planned out in advance, so you don’t feel rushed and panicked every day.

A streamlined schedule will help you breeze through work, run errands, catch up with friends and family, spend quality time with your children, help them with their schoolwork and revision, take some time out for yourself, and more.

The online schooling transition becomes very simple and manageable when everything is seamlessly and skilfully planned in advance. Tick this off the list and the first few weeks will become much easier.

3. Speak with the personnel beforehand

At Think Digital Academy, we help parents prepare for the transition to online schooling. Our Student Success Coaches will walk you through what you should expect. A virtual dashboard tour is offered beforehand, which will give you a good glimpse into what you can expect when you enter our “online campus”. They’ll also discuss common mistakes parents make during the first few months. As you get an idea of how the first few weeks will pan out, you can prepare accordingly.

We also recommend reaching out to other parents who have already switched to the online schooling model. The longer it has been, the better! They’ll offer excellent guidance and share individualised tips based on their unique experiences.

If you still feel unprepared, online forums are an excellent resource. The Footprints homeschool support groups page covers everything: resources, curricular guidance, online schooling support and more.

If you have any unique questions or concerns, send one of our friendly Success Coaches a WhatsApp on +27 71 408 4677. Our online support community is very active, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the support you seek.

Another great option, if you recently made the switch and want to find support in your new online community, is to join Facebook groups. As you interact with other parents, you’ll understand how they navigated the switch effectively and efficiently.

Ready to make the switch to online schooling for your children? At Think Digital Academy, we offer the South African CAPS, British International and American GED curricula to students across the globe. As South Africa’s first, favourite and 2x award-winning online school, we’re trusted by thousands of parents. Read “A parent’s view of Think Digital Academy“.

With 6+ years’ experience, we’re committed to helping students excel. By providing quality online schooling options for working parents, we help parents heave a big sigh of relief when it comes to their children’s education. Whether you’re working from home, rushing to the office in the morning, or running errands all day, you can rest assured that your children will receive a quality education at home.

Thank you for trusting us; we look forward to giving your children the support, tools, and guidance they need to succeed.

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More great reading

More children than ever before are suffering from anxiety and mental health disorders, and this can put them at a severe disadvantage in the schooling system. While many children suffer from occasional shyness when presented with a new situation, some young people suffer from overwhelming and persistent fear when in social situations, including in the classroom.

This can result in a host of problems that can negatively impact a child’s academic attainment.

Children and adolescents with anxiety disorders struggle to focus, and experience a fear of attending school. They may also experience other physical symptoms associated with their condition including rapid breathing, restlessness, stomach aches and headaches. If your child is a sufferer, it may be very distressing to have to send them to school every day knowing how much they are struggling.

Fortunately for both children and parents alike, online schooling, which can be done from anywhere, presents an excellent alternative education provision.

How does online schooling help anxious children?

Online schools benefit children suffering from anxiety in several ways. Children can make progress at their own pace, in their favourite place, learning in an environment that is free from any distractions or problematic behaviour. While virtual classrooms give anxious youngsters social interaction, which is essential, even for children with anxiety, the experience is considerably less stressful than in-person teaching.

Anxious students can benefit from a more personalised and tailored learning programme, building up their confidence and helping them to catch up with anything that they have missed in their brick and mortar school.

Can my child do online schooling from home?

Some parents wonder whether taking their child out of their school and teaching them themselves at home is the answer when they suffer from anxiety. While this may work for the youngest children, it becomes considerably more problematic when dealing with older children. Parents rarely have the knowledge or skill to teach all subjects at higher levels such as Grade 10 – 12 or IGCSE – AS levels.

The advantage of schooling them online with Think Digital Academy is that parents do not need to take the burden and responsibility of teaching their children themselves. The lessons are all recorded by qualified teachers who are masters in their subjects. This means that parents can do just that, parent, and still feel at ease that their children are being taught by subject matter experts.

Enrolment at an online school such as Think Digital Academy, ensures that young people who are working towards their major exams can benefit from outstanding teaching from skilled and qualified teachers so that they can receive school leaving certificates that stand them in good stead to achieve their future goals.

Fitting learning around treatment

If your child suffers from severe anxiety they may need professional treatment and therapy. While undergoing this treatment process, children must be in a supportive and safe environment where they can focus on recovery. They must, however, also continue studying so that they don’t miss out on vital learning time.

Online schooling fits seamlessly around treatment so that students receiving help for their anxiety can continue to learn, work towards their qualifications and make progress so that they can return to conventional education in the future should they wish to do so.

Choosing an online school

If you’re wondering how to choose an online school for your anxious child, contact Think Digital Academy to find out more about how South Africa’s first, favourite and award winning online school can benefit your child.

Explore our FREE two week trial and see for yourself.

Introverted kids have an inner world that is alive and present for them. They engage with the deeper aspects of life.

Online education can benefit introverts who find in person school overwhelming. It also allows you to work closely with your child to develop a personalised education plan, to give them the best online education (British, South African or American curricula).

Here are some tips on how to support your introverted child’s education.

Infographic on how to support your introverted child's education

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No matter how gifted, talented, and hardworking a student may be, the wrong circumstances can negatively affect their academic performance. At Think Digital Academy, we often hear of precocious students suffering severe academic blows. It’s important to understand why this happens.

In this article, we’ll offer a closer look at some of the most common reasons why children’s grades suddenly begin to drop. Use this insight to take the right steps and help your child get back on track.

Unqualified teachers

Have you recently switched your child’s school? Perhaps they are studying at the same institution, but their teachers have changed? Unqualified, inexperienced and insufficiently trained teachers can make even the most talented students falter.

To succeed in school, students must develop a strong interest in their studies. This interest is contingent on how passionate, qualified, experienced, emotionally intelligent and empathetic their teachers are. If the wrong teachers take your child under their wing, the outcome will be disappointing.

We strongly recommend setting up a meeting with the school. Leading up to the meeting, do your research. What are the qualifications of the teachers? Ideally, they should be qualified. Moreover, how much experience do they have? Which teaching approach do they use? Are they harsh towards students or empathetic and, are they understanding and kind?

These details make a big difference in student performance. As the meeting progresses, you’ll get a good idea of whether the school is the right fit for your child. If you’re afraid you’ve made the wrong decision, consider switching schools.

The right school can help students realise their potential and shine bright in and outside the classroom. At Think Digital Academy, our MA/PhD qualified teachers deliver engaging, enjoyable and retentive recorded lessons that help students secure top grades.

Lack of flexibility

As academic stress, anxiety and burnout increase among students, education specialists urge parents to reconsider their approach. When students are pushed to study for an unreasonably high number of hours per day, they struggle to maintain optimal levels of focus and concentration.

Students spend the bulk of the day studying. As a result, they develop academic fatigue. Instead of improving, their academic performance declines.

It’s possible that your child is overworked. If this is the case, encourage them to develop a healthy work-life routine. Once their classes end for the day, students should enjoy ample afterschool activities like sports, hanging out with friends, exploring new hobbies and interests, developing new skills, going on adventures and explorations with friends or family, meeting new people, having new experiences, visiting new places and so on. This is part of the learning process.

As a parent, ensure that your child is granted ample flexibility. Once they return home from school, they should have ample time to study, revise, complete their homework and enjoy themselves. A healthy, balanced schedule will help your child improve their grades. If they’re overworked, however, their academic performance will continue to stagnate.

Inadequate support

To thrive, students must be equipped with the right academic support, tools and guidance. While excellent teachers are important, they’re not enough. Students must also have a positive learning experience supplemented with the right tools.

At Think Digital Academy, we have created a vast online library to help students keep their academic performance on track “after school”. Once their online school time ends for the day, students can explore thousands of resources like join virtual clubs, read through study notes, explore our online Reading Room, activities, past papers, worksheets, study guides and so much more.

These tools help sustain the learning process. As students complete their lessons or revise for the day, they may have questions. Our online tutors and student success coaches address these questions to get rid of any confusion or doubt.

These invaluable resources also play a pivotal role in keeping students happy, motivated and encouraged. If a student is struggling with any academic, personal or social problem, they can unhesitatingly reach out to our online tutors. We provide a safe, open and candid space to students. They can address their problems without fear of judgement.

As a parent, you should have a razor-sharp focus on improving your child’s academic performance. At Think Digital Academy, we help you shoulder this responsibility by providing you with weekly activity reports delivered straight to your inbox every week. This report helps you to keep track of your child’s academic progress and performance. Since our inception in 2017, we’ve helped thousands of talented students get back on track.

If your gifted child has been struggling recently, consider switching to the online schooling model with Think Digital Academy. We offer the South African CAPS, British International and American GED curricula to students across the globe. As one of the most esteemed, trusted and recognised online schools in South Africa, we’re trusted by thousands of parents.

Explore our FREE two week trial and see for yourself.

Higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth and higher employment rates. Literacy is a foundational skill required to acquire advanced skills. In honour of World Literacy Day tomorrow, 8 September, we thought it would be helpful if we shared some of our best writing tips to share with your teens.

What is literacy?

Literacy is most commonly defined as the ability to read and write.

But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Reading and writing abilities vary across different cultures and contexts, and these too are constantly shifting.

Nowadays, ‘reading’ encompasses complex visual and digital media as well as printed material. An elderly person who can read the newspaper might struggle to get information from Google.

Similarly, different cultures will have different perceptions of literacy. The writing traditions of the English language make reading comprehension an essential part of literacy, but this might not be as important in cultures or groups that rarely read printed material.

Why is literacy important?

Students need literacy in order to engage with the written word in everyday life.

Think of how often you use your own reading skills in everyday life. It’s not just articles like this one that require literacy, but signs, labels and the messages on your phone, too.

The same goes for writing. Nowadays, even phone calls have given way to instant messaging and text-based communication, making the ability to read and write all the more important.

But beyond the functional level, literacy plays a vital role in transforming students into socially engaged citizens. Being able to read and write means being able to keep up with current events, communicate effectively and understand the issues that are shaping our world.

Here are 10 tips for parents from the National Council of Teachers of English on helping your teen write better:

  1. As with any skill, writing gets better the more we do it. Let your teenager see you write often and encourage them to write often too. At-home writing might include e-mails, instant messaging, thank-you notes, scrapbook descriptions, diaries and what’s-for-dinner notes.
  2. We write differently for each audience. Encourage your teenager to expand their range and abilities by writing for many different audiences. They could try a letter to the editor or to a legislator, a silly story for their younger sibling or family member, or a “list of ten ways” to cheer up a sick friend.
  3. Language play and writing can be fun. Have fun with language yourself and share that sense of play with your teenager. Point out new words and phrases you come across in the newspaper, magazine or on the radio; share favourite song lyrics; get creative in naming a new pet or writing humorous gift tags or cards.
  4. Support your budding writer. If your teenager chooses to share their writing with you, point out specifically what you like best about the piece. Rejoice in effort, delight in ideas, and resist the temptation to be critical. Maybe you’ll want to ask your teen to read the piece aloud. Feel free to ask questions about parts that aren’t clear, but leave the answering of those questions to your teen. Lastly, make it clear that you are always interested in reading any writings that they want to share with you.
  5. While it’s true that we learn to write by writing, we also learn to write by reading. Offer your teenager a wide variety of opportunities to read, both educational and entertaining, and pass on your own favourite authors, novels and magazines to show them that you’re a reader too. Talk about the things that you’ve both read.
  6. The funny thing about writing is that it actually helps the writer think. Encourage your teenager to use writing to think more deeply about things in their life—questions, problems, difficult assignments or tasks, hobbies and topics that they want to learn more about.
  7. We all have trouble getting started once in a while. If this happens to your teenager, suggest they try brainstorming, jotting down lists of ideas or, talking through their thoughts with you or a friend. Sometimes just spending 15 minutes writing anything and everything (including “I don’t know what to write.”) loosens up the very ideas needed for the piece.
  8. Good writers know how to make any topic their own. They do that in the way they organise their ideas, in the examples they choose and in the angle, as well as by drawing from their own experiences. Encourage your teen to find ways to make the assigned topic their own.
  9. Writing is a process of developing and drafting ideas, then revising, and finally, editing for correct grammar and spelling. Help your teenager see the value of clarifying their ideas, drafting and revising before they attend to the mechanics.
  10. Provide a special writing folder or notebook for your teen and encourage them to save writings in it. Nothing can replace the good feeling of reading something we wrote months ago and rediscovering how good it is.

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The importance of reading to your child

Books give us the words when we have none or are wanting to ensure we say the right things.

Is there any better feeling in this world than snuggling a warm little body into yours and reading to them in a sing-song voice?

Reading stories to your favourite little person is just so very special, right? It isn’t just about the story and pictures, but the voice that is reading to them and the energy this creates. A parent reading a good book to their child will connect with little ones on a number of levels, and every child’s book shelf should have more than just a few.

Here’s just a few reasons as to why we love them!

Developing the reading habit

The importance of reading is undeniable. Studies have shown that children who are read to regularly by the age of 5, perform better in maths, vocabulary and spelling at age 16, compared to those who were not read to at home. Similarly, teenagers who read independently are the ones who do best in school. Not to mention the benefits to mental health and future wellbeing which are tremendous.

At Think Digital Academy we encourage students to aim for 20 minutes of reading each day. It doesn’t have to be in one session; it can be spread out over a few breaks, in between lessons or while enjoying a cup of tea and snack. It doesn’t matter whether they read a physical book, an e-book, an informational website connected to something they have been learning about, a graphic novel… as long as they are reading!

At Think Digital Academy, we also encourage all parents to help children to develop their reading habits by visiting our “Reading Room”, located on our website, which offers hundreds of short stories, that can be downloaded for free. Here you can choose from many different genres, pick a story and read to your children at least three times per week.

There are tons of fantastic children’s books out there and they all have similar agendas, be they to promote or support reading for pleasure, great books, great illustration, diversity, emergent readers and much more. Not to share them would be a crime against reading and humanity!

So, if you’re a parent, teacher, or just plain kid “lit lover” be sure you’ve subscribed to our Reading Room so that you never miss a story!

What can you expect from the Think Digital Academy Reading Room?

  • Each month, a new series of stories / short tales, including non-fiction and fiction tales, are made available for students and parents to download and enjoy the marvels of reading!
  • Each week, on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a new story is available for parents and students to download. Make sure you subscribe to our mailing list to ensure that you never miss any of our upcoming stories or books.
  • This online resource of over 100 books / stories is available in English and Afrikaans, and can be accessed and downloaded from the website at any time after it’s been published.
  • Some of the themes include: Ancient Tales, Adventure Stories, African Tales, Modern Shakespeare, Fairy Tales, Greek Mythology and much, much more! They are all equally fantastic, all you have to do now, is grab a cup of hot chocolate, find a comfy spot and, pick your adventure!

If you’ve subscribed to our blog, you can also expect to receive parental tips and guidance for encouraging reading and supporting less confident readers.

According to research and studies conducted by Cambridge University of England, the biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores, stems from parents reading to children from a young age – not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not educational toys or devices, but YOU, Mom or Dad, taking the time every day or night (or both), to sit with them and read wonderful books!

What is resilience?

Being resilient encapsulates different qualities. The definition of resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, adversities and setbacks.

For a long time, resilience has been seen as an outcome of difficult times; you face a challenge, you become more resilient. However, it is really much more of a process. Resilience is about how you actually react to and cope with emotional and mental stress.

To be resilient is to be determined, to have grit and to be able to persevere. These sound like rather grown-up characteristics, but they’re also exactly what you’d expect from children too.

A resilient child won’t get overwhelmed or show signs of emotional distress quickly. Instead, they’ll have coping mechanisms to deal with challenges. Emotional resilience doesn’t mean that a child isn’t allowed to cry or show emotions. Emotional resilience in children means that they can express their emotions constructively without pain, fear, or anger.

Why is emotional resilience important for children?

Childhood isn’t all adventures in the forest or TikTok and Fortnite all evening. There are real challenges and difficulties that children can face.

What you as an adult find stressful, is likely to be just as tough for a young child to experience. Situations such as:

  • Moving schools / homes
  • Divorce
  • Sharing two homes
  • New siblings arriving
  • Exams
  • Death in the family
  • Death of a pet
  • Friendship rivalry
  • Peer pressure
  • Medical stresses
  • Racism
  • World news – example floods, wars, looting, etc.

All these situations can be difficult for a child to process.

There is a lot of evidence that stress can lead to mental health issues for children, such as anxiety or depression. In an NHS survey, it was found that 18 per cent of girls and 12 per cent of boys were showing signs of depression and anxiety.

Teaching your child how to become emotionally resilient, can help to combat these issues. When a child is emotionally resilient, they will be able to work through their challenges rather than focus on the problems they encounter. We all know that schoolwork can be a stressful time. Giving your child tools to be able to seek help or the confidence to say “I don’t understand” will help them not take the stress to heart.

Like with many of our life skills, we can learn them as adults, but it’s easier when we’re young. Teaching emotional resilience means that you’re setting your child up to better cope with difficult finances, rocky relationships or losing their loved ones when they reach adulthood.

Children have different levels of resilience and different ways of responding to and recovering from stressful times. All behaviour is communication and, our children’s behaviour gives us clues as to whether they are regulated and in their learning brain, or if the demands of stress are greater than their capacity to cope.

When children are dysregulated, they may become emotional, withdraw or, become defiant, angry or resentful. When we become curious about behaviour, we are able to meet children where they are, to help them regulate and learn new skills.

All children are capable of extraordinary things, and resilience can be nurtured in all children.

8 ways to build emotionally resilient children

  1. Teach kids about their emotions
    During stressful moments and in the face of unpleasant emotions, children may not be able to quiet their amygdala to activate their prefrontal cortex. Because the prefrontal cortex is early in development, they can easily fall into a fight, flight or freeze state. By helping children notice and label their emotions, it brings them into their bodies. As they understand that all emotions are acceptable and useful, they can honour what they are feeling and choose effective calming strategies to help them regulate and move forward.
  2. Embrace mistakes
    When children fear failing, they develop a fixed mindset – we either win or lose, pass or fail. This type of thinking can enhance stress and lead to risk avoidance. When we teach children that all mistakes are normal – ours and theirs – it becomes safe for them to step out of their comfort zone to try new things. Embracing a growth mindset encourages that our traits are not fixed, but rather grow with practice, and mistakes then become the building blocks to learn and grow.
  3. Ask children for their opinion
    When we ask our children for their opinion or ask for their help, they feel powerful and valuable. In these ways, they can also practice communicating their wants, needs and thoughts. As children discover who they are, they learn what they are made of.
  4. Encourage healthy risk-taking
    Healthy risks are situations that encourage children to step outside of their comfort zone but result in little harm if they are unsuccessful. This may include trying a new sport that they show an interest in, participating in a play, or striking up a conversation with someone. When children embrace risk-taking, they learn to challenge themselves, knowing they are powerful and capable just as they are and especially when they mess up.
  5. Teach problem-solving
    Rather than telling children what to think, we can teach them how to think. Reflecting on what you hear and asking questions, is a great way to encourage problem-solving. By bouncing problems back to the child, it gives them an opportunity to practice thinking through the problem to come up with solutions. Here are some questions you could try:

    • What did you learn?
    • What did you do today that made you think hard?
    • What are some other ways you can solve this problem?
    • How can we look at this from a new perspective?

    Resilience and grit don’t prevent stress from occurring but they do equip us with tools to cope and transform something challenging into something beautiful or new. At the very least, resilience can help us to know ourselves, set boundaries and practice self-love. When we love ourselves through all emotions and situations – pleasant and unpleasant – then we step into who we are meant to be – and that person is exactly who the world needs.

  6. Do not accommodate every need
    Lynn Lyons is a licensed social worker and psychotherapist who co-authored the book “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children”. She states that whenever we try to provide certainty and comfort, we get in the way of children being able to develop their own problem-solving and mastery. (Overprotecting kids only fuels their anxiety.)A dramatic but not uncommon example she provides is, “Suppose a child gets out of school at 3:15. But they worry about their parent picking them up on time. So the parent arrives an hour earlier and parks by their child’s classroom so they can see the parent is there.” In another example, parents let their 7-year-old sleep on a mattress on the floor in their bedroom because they’re too uncomfortable to sleep in their room.
  7. Help them manage their emotions
    Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and self-regulation are key to resilience. You can teach your kids that all emotions are OK. It’s OK to feel angry that you lost the game or someone else finished your ice-cream. It’s important to teach children that after feeling their feelings, they need to think through what they’re going to do next. You might tell your child, “I understand that you feel that way. I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes, but now you have to figure out what the appropriate next step is.” If your child throws a tantrum, be clear about what behaviour is appropriate (and inappropriate).
  8. Model adaptability
    Of course, kids also learn from observing their parents’ behaviour. Try to be calm and consistent. You cannot say to a child that you want them to control their emotions while you yourself are falling apart or flipping out. When you do make a mistake, admit it. You could say, “I’m sorry I handled that poorly. Let’s talk about a different way to handle that in the future”. Resiliency helps kids navigate the inevitable trials, triumphs and tribulations of childhood and adolescence. Resilient kids also become resilient adults, able to survive and thrive in the face of life’s unavoidable stressors.

The 7 Cs of resilience

Dr Ken Ginsburg developed a theory which lays out the 7 Cs of resilience. His research has been centred around helping children learn how to solve problems. His work encourages children to think up, explain and set priorities for their own ideas. Dr Ginsburg’s work around resilience has been influential in how we understand what it looks like in children and how to develop the skills needed. They are:

  1. Competence
    To be competent is to be able to do something. For a child this might mean they know that they can do their maths work if they focus, or that they will be able to ride their bike without training wheels.To work on competence with your child, be sure that you focus on their strengths so that they know what they’re good at. It’s also important to empower them so that they can make their own decisions wherever possible; this could be choosing their own lunch or picking the book they’ll read before bedtime.When a child is overprotected, they can feel like they should always defer decisions to adults. Take steps to show your child that they can do many things by themselves, successfully.
  2. Confidence
    Confidence is very much linked to competence. When your child believes in their own abilities, they cultivate a stronger sense of self confidence. This can be anything from coming first place in a competition, reading aloud to an audience, or taking the lead role in a play or dance.To instil confidence in your child, you need to focus on their best assets and qualities rather than dwell on where they’re struggling. You need to be crystal clear about their qualities rather than too vague, “you managed to stay within the lines of your colouring sheet” is specific praise instead of “that’s a great picture”.Finding ways to offer recognition to your child will also give them confidence. In a home setting, having a “house points” system or weekly awards for chores or tasks they’ve completed well can build up each their confidence too.
  3. Connection
    A child needs to feel that they have a place in the world and are cared for by others. As simple as this may sound, this may not be the case for many children; for various reasons such as, frequently moving homes, divorce, difficult family situations, etc. Feeling “connected” allows a child to be able to talk about how they’re feeling.You can build connections for your child by creating a safe space for them. You can also have a “quiet room” (perhaps even their bedroom) where they can have some downtime if needed.By working through conflict, you also show your child that they have a connection with you. Noticing arguments and dealing with them in a fair way will model good behaviour and show them that you can still be friends after having a fall-out.
  4. Character
    Having character means to have morals and values and know right from wrong. When a child shares their sandwich with someone less fortunate or, chooses to play a game fairly, even when they’ve been given an advantage, you know that they have good character.You can work on character with your child by showing that actions have consequences. It’s important that you follow through with what you tell your child, such as cutting short their TV time or taking away their iPad when they’ve failed to keep to an agreement of sorts. Correcting negative attitudes is another key element – if you hear any racist language, or any words that stereotype people, you need to explain clearly, why it is wrong and how it can be hurtful to the people around them.Building character in a child will help them in their relationships with their friends in the present and in the future. It’s important to ensure that they know that they are naturally good and that they always have the opportunity to make the right choices.
  5. Contribution
    Show your child how they can make their world better. Knowing where they fit into the world and that they’re valued and important, will help keep anxiety from creeping in. When a child understands that they are capable of good, you might see them share their snacks at a party or playdate, or volunteer to help a struggling friend.Ensure that your child understands where they fit in in the world and that there are people both better and worse off than them. You can also model what generosity looks like by creating chances for them to offer help.Showing them how they can contribute to others around them in their immediate environment, should lead to them being able to contribute to wider society. Generosity as a child should translate into becoming a kind and considerate adult.
  6. Coping
    To cope is to be able to deal with stress. Not letting stressful situations get the better of them will help your child to be calm in whatever crisis may befall them. A child who can cope with stress will show perseverance before approaching you for help.Just telling a child “no” rarely works. It is necessary to explain to them why their actions are risky and what they can do differently – this will teach them to evaluate a situation. Don’t ever shame a child for their behaviour, otherwise they will try to hide it next time, which will not be helpful.When a child is not stressed about making a mistake or being scolded, they are more willing to try, even if they struggle. With less stress, the chances of depression and anxiety forming later will diminish.
  7. Control
    Children need to understand that they have a direct effect on the world around them. Understanding that they can control events, is an empowering feeling and allows them understand that they can make changes. An example of a child showing control could be them choosing a healthy snack at lunch after learning about nutrition.You can model the choices a child has and the actions that they can take to help them take control, by setting challenges around achieving more in their schoolwork based on the work they put in. For example, you can challenge your child to complete 20 addition problems followed by a quiz to demonstrate that they’ve improved.A child who understands how they control their world, will know that their actions and choices will affect their life. They should be less reckless and take fewer risks when they grasp that they are making decisions that will affect them and their future.

What are the characteristics of an emotionally resilient child?

Emotional resilience or even just resilience in children, is not an absolute. It’s a continuous process of building and developing. You need to provide children with all the tools to cope with challenges in their young lives, so that they will be more resilient as adults.

You’ll be able to recognise a resilient child when they are:

  • Interested in school, showing enthusiasm and engagement with their work.
  • Able to solve problems that they get presented with, whether it’s a challenging task or needing to help a friend deal with a problem.
  • Assertive in being able to ask for what they need, whether it be asking for more time to do something or additional assistance with their work.
  • Empathetic with their friends and with you as their parent, offering to help friends who struggle or talking to someone who’s alone can show empathy.
  • Responsible or seek responsibility, such as asking to assist you with certain tasks around the house.
  • Able to set and achieve goals, meaning they understand that their action will bring about results such as reading a book within a week.
  • Positive in their outlook and can see the good in a situation rather than fixate on the difficulties; seeing a test as a chance to improve their results would be an example.

What are the characteristics of a non-resilient child?

Not being emotionally resilient will lead a child to feel stressed. Understanding when a child is stressed will be a signal that you need to focus on acquiring some skills to build resilience. Use the 7 Cs as a framework to see where they might need help.

A stressed child will:

  • wet the bed.
  • suffer headaches.
  • have an upset stomach.
  • have sleeping problems.
  • refuse to do any schoolwork.

Emotionally resilient children will become resilient adults. We all know the challenges that being a grown-up presents and how they can affect our mental health. Developing tools to cope during childhood will make your children less likely to struggle with their mental health as they grow.

Mind Power courses

At Think Digital we’ve developed two short courses, Mind Power for Kids (ages 6 – 12) and Mind Power for Teens (ages 13 – 18), that is fun to take and teaches them how to navigate through life and remain positive and focused.

If you recently started online schooling, congratulations! Making the switch from conventional to online schooling isn’t easy for most parents and students. They feel hesitant about switching from the only schooling model they’ve ever known: conventional learning.

In 2022, however, online learning is rapidly gaining traction for its efficacy. Students who attend some of the most prestigious online schools, secure top grades and enjoy a healthy school-life balance.

As a first-time online learner, make sure you start building three critical soft skills: time management, responsibility and organisation. In this article, we’ll focus on the first skill. Our education specialists will talk you through three steps to manage your time exceptionally well as you attend school online. Let’s get straight into the juicy stuff!

Plan ahead

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” — Benjamin Franklin

Successful online schooling is contingent on excellent planning. If you’re not too fond of planning, you’ll have to develop this skill. Planning ahead goes a long way in helping students keep their studies, extracurricular life, social life and personal life on track. We recommend downloading an academic planning app on your phone. Sync it across your tablet, laptop and computer to ensure easy, quick access. Some of our favourite school planning tools and apps are: MyHomework, iStudies, Routine Planner and School Planner.

Start planning! Lay out your schedule in advance. We recommend planning at least a week in advance. Of course, you’ll make changes along the way. However, planning ahead will help you get a good foundation and add some basic structure to your day. This is a great way to avoid wasting time and procrastinating. You’re less likely to veer off track when you have a set of tasks lined up for the day. Use your Termly Planner to assist in planning your weeks efficiently.

Most apps have an accountability feature. This lets you check off chores for the day. If there are delays or you can’t check off certain tasks, your streak will be affected. Setting up a schedule is half the battle. Sticking to it is the real legwork! You may struggle in the first few days. During this period, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Student Success Coaches for some extra encouragement and assistance.

At Think Digital Academy, we have a team of MA/MSc/PhD qualified subject matter experts to deliver learning content in the most engaging and interesting ways. As you reach out to your online tutors or Success Coaches, you’ll get the guidance, support, and insight you need to follow your schedule more closely and avoid setbacks. Remember, help is right around the corner. As long as you ask for it, it will be provided. Make the most of it!

Minimise distractions in your space

It’s 2022. We’re bombarded with one distraction after the other: Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Fortnite, etc. The list goes on. As an online student, make sure you take control and reduce as many distractions as possible. This isn’t easy. However, it’s definitely doable. Start with physical distractions.

If you’re viewing your classes in your bedroom, make sure your space doesn’t include any distractions you’d feel compelled to reach for mid-lesson. The best approach is to set up your study station elsewhere.

We recommend setting up a study room. You can control what goes in this room, which is slightly tricky to achieve when you attend online school in your bedroom. You can’t possibly get rid of every distraction from your bedroom. However, your study space should be focused and minimal for the most part.

Make sure there are no gadgets, games, or non-academic books in sight (novels, etc.). Your study space should only include school-related items (books, stationery, essentials for lesson activities, etc.). As you reduce distractions, you’ll notice an increase in your overall focus and productivity levels.

Switch to a reputable online school

Time management is a difficult skill to master on your own, especially if you’re a young student. At Think Digital Academy we provide you with some great time management tools such as a Termly Planner (which provides a breakdown of all the lessons that should be completed each term) to help students hone their skills. Switching to a reputable online school is a great way to get help with a skill that you’re struggling to develop independently.

We also provide our students with access to a vast online library of educational resources such as videos, readers, textbooks, study guides, worksheets, activities and more.

Keeping the lessons fun and engaging boosts knowledge absorption and retention, and performance.

If you’re ready to start making the switch, explore our FREE two week trial.

It’s time to start securing a better, brighter future.

There are so many unanswered questions for parents who are considering making the move to online schooling. On top of the usual parental concerns, you’re now having to face the reality that your children really want to be doing some (or all) of their learning from home, in front of a screen.

If you are keeping up with the real time changes in South Africa and all around the world, there is a growing likelihood that online learning has become the popular reality.

Here’s what you can do to cope with the change:

Convey calm

Most importantly, encourage your child to talk to you about what they are feeling and respond with empathy and understanding. We need to show our children that we’re here for them. Children are receptive to learning when they feel safe and secure.

Make a plan that helps achieve outcomes

In the world of learning, “outcomes” is a word used quite often; it refers to the learning goals that students are meant to achieve. Whether learning takes place online or face to face, it’s all about students achieving the outcomes that will set them up for success. The outcome might be to understand a topic, develop a skill, or for students to socially develop and connect with the community they’re in. Get clear on what these outcomes are for your child, based on what they want to learn, what their learning goals are and how you as a parent can support them. If you do eventually give in and make the switch online make sure you know:

  1. What your child’s learning goals are (AKA outcomes)
  2. What other outcomes your child should be focused on, such as improving their critical thinking skills or ability to collaborate with others
  3. What the expectations of you, as a parent are, for helping your child make progress towards these outcomes

Many parents have decided to supplement what their school provides, with additional online learning experiences. It’s important to keep outcomes in mind if you select learning technology for your child; identify the outcome your child needs to achieve and make sure there is evidence that the product you choose has a positive impact on the outcome you’ve identified. At Think Digital Academy we’ve done the hard work for you, so that you can enjoy the online learning journey with your child. We’ve already designed and developed the content so that it aligns 100% with the learning outcomes.

Create routine

Students usually work best within a routine. Work with your child to set the expectations for completing schoolwork.

  1. Ensure you know the expectations that the school has for completing their lessons online and how the teachers or Student Success Coaches can be reached. TDA students will find a list of their Success Coaches on their dashboards under the “Who to Contact” tab. Preview lessons, assignments and don’t miss any lessons. For TDA parents and students, we’ve made this task stress free and simple by providing students with a “Termly Planner” which can be used as a check list and planner for working through the term lessons. Parents can also easily check how their child is doing, by reading through the student “Weekly Activity Report” every Monday morning.
  2. Prepare a schedule of what needs to be completed each day/week. Part of effective scheduling is building breaks into the day and not trying to put too much learning into one block. A general rule of thumb is 30 to 50 minutes of learning and then a break for older students. Learning should take place in smaller chunks for younger students.
  3. If you are working from home, make sure your child knows when you are available and unavailable to help them. Setting clear boundaries is essential for your sanity and for your child’s self-esteem.
  4. Embrace the fact that online learning does not mean your child only learns in front of a computer. Given that educators must focus on achieving a variety of outcomes, you should expect that activities will be adjusted based on the best way to achieve each outcome. Activities might range from being given several links to follow at the student’s own pace, being asked to do some practice work or completing work independently.
  5. Review and reflect on the day by asking your child to show you what they worked on and ask them a few questions about what they learned. This isn’t you “checking” their work; it’s simply you showing an interest in what they’ve done and learnt.

Help your child believe they can do it

Everyone is going to experience setbacks and frustrations. It’s key to try and see those moments as useful markers on a journey towards learning, rather than signs that it is time to give up. If students struggle with a task or assessment, use statements such as:

  • Tell me what you’ve tried so far.
  • What else can you try?
  • What have you learned so far?

Remember to model this, as much as you can, for your child; if you get frustrated and shut down when something unexpected happens (e.g., the technology doesn’t work like you think it will), your child may think that some things really are just too hard.

Help your child see the value

You may become accustomed to hearing the phrase that teachers have heard millions of times, “Why do I have to learn this?” It’s hard to stay motivated when you don’t see the value of what you are doing. Try to help your child connect what they are learning to things that are important to them. This might mean connecting learning to their interests (e.g., “Well, if you understand averages you can follow your favourite footballer’s performance”) or, helping them understand ways in which they could use what they are learning to help themselves or their friends and family (e.g., “could you use this lesson on photosynthesis to help us decide where it would be best to put our indoor plant?”). Students who learn to take charge of their own learning are often more successful.

Ensure there is a focus on individual progress and feedback

Every school will have a slightly different approach in terms of how they assess students. This will be even more true as schools grapple with online learning. As a parent, you need to make sure that your child’s knowledge and skills are being tracked in a meaningful and productive way. This should be a depiction of their individual progress (not how they compare to their friends). Ask your child’s school how progress will be shared with your child and with you.

At TDA, parents receive a “Weekly Activity Report” which details all activity completed on the system by your student. In addition to this, students also receive quarterly and annual reports. It’s essential that parent’s or tutors receive regular feedback on how their students are doing. Further to this, parents receive a copy of each completed assessment which allows for remedial intervention if necessary. This is an integral tool for measuring progress. No one can improve if we aren’t given regular, immediate information on what we did well and how we can get better. It’s important for you to recognise that feedback doesn’t have to be evaluative or for termly results; it can be as simple as a supportive check-in.

Provide opportunities for developing soft skills and social skills

Whether it’s communication, collaboration or critical thinking – acquiring and developing these skills is just as important as enhancing knowledge. Much of your child’s learning is about having fun and connecting with new ideas. TDA has built skills development into activities (e.g., problem solving, self-management, social responsibility, etc.); but you can further help ensure that you are fostering skills development outside of what the lesson material is providing.

You can use technology to take virtual field trips to museums or foreign countries, play interactive games and video call with friends and family. Or you can develop these skills without technology – have siblings work together to solve a problem (e.g., how can you earn enough money to buy that new video game) or have your child plan a new layout of their bedroom to maximise space.

Look after your own wellbeing

This is probably easier said than done, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself. You don’t have to become a professional educator; you are a parent. Communicate with your child, empathise with each other and, try to take some time for yourself. Adjusting to a new way of learning isn’t easy for anyone, but we’ll navigate it together. Here at TDA, we have a whole team of people who love chatting and are only a call, mail or WhatsApp away from offering you all the support that you need!

Free trial

Why not try our online learning environment by enroling for our free 14 day trial.

For the longest time our only option for schooling was traditional brick and mortar schools. However, with progressing technology online education has never been more viable:

The compelling benefits of online learning for the skeptical parent

Free trial

Why not try our online learning environment by enroling for our free 14 day trial.

According to research, school bullying has increased drastically over the past decade. Millions of students are being targeted across the globe, especially in South Africa. While anti-bullying measures help to some extent, they don’t eliminate the risk of bullying. Perpetrators still find ways to harass, abuse and torment their victims, making students more vulnerable to falling behind in school, developing anxiety, developing low self-esteem and isolating themselves.⁣ ⁣

School bullying is often linked to the conventional (in-person) schooling system. Conventional schools have a high student-teacher ratio, which makes regulation nearly impossible. Teachers are unable to monitor students and identify instances of school bullying. Poor monitoring results in poor detection. Most cases of school bullying go unnoticed and escalate over time.⁣ ⁣

In this article, we’ll help you take the right measures if your child is being bullied. These measures will help you protect your child’s mental health and get their personal, academic and social growth back on track.⁣

Speak with other parents ⁣

When parents first realise that their child is being bullied, they mostly reach out to their teachers / the institution. We recommend avoiding this approach. The school may come up with a cover-up to protect its reputation. They may not take your concerns seriously and downplay the incident. You’ll walk away with false reassurance.⁣ ⁣

As a rule of thumb, reach out to other parents. Call your child’s friends’ parents and inquire into whether they’ve noticed that their children are being bullied as well. Chances are that they’ve noticed a shift as well. If this is the case, collectively schedule a meeting with the school. Going in a group is better than going alone. There’s little to no risk of your concerns being dismissed.⁣

Make sure you emphasise the lack of in-school regulation. We’ve observed that most conventional schools have a particularly high student-teacher ratio. In some cases, as many as 30 or even 40 students are taught in one classroom. This makes it nearly impossible for teachers to track each student’s performance and activity in class. If students are bullying their peers, the teacher may never pick up on this.⁣

While it’s important to voice your concerns, it’s also important to understand that most institutions cannot change overnight. If you request greater regulation, it may take months or even years to train their faculty and employ more teachers.⁣

Switch schools⁣

As stated earlier, demanding institutional change can be very tricky. If your child is being bullied at school, we recommend switching schools. Compared to conventional schooling, online learning is deemed better for student mental health.⁣

At Think Digital Academy (TDA), students can watch and re-watch lessons as many times as they need to in order to master the concepts before moving on. The risk of in-class bullying isn’t just reduced, it’s entirely eliminated. Students are encouraged to virtually interact with their peers on their online Forum which is well-moderated. If there’s even a subtle hint of bullying, racism, harassment or abuse, our Student Success Coaches step in immediately and remove the student from the virtual space. We believe that student mental health isn’t just important; it’s imperative. We go to great lengths to preserve it.⁣

TDA students making use of the Forum are reminded and encouraged to work on their soft skills such as respect, teamwork, patience, acceptance and empathy. These skills help students develop respect, compassion and care for their peers, which brings about a change in their mindset.⁣

At Think Digital Academy, we help students become well-rounded individuals who cheer each other on, not bring each other down.⁣

Create and maintain an open line of communication with your child⁣

Most instances of school bullying go unnoticed because parents fail to identify them. Students feel embarrassed opening up about these instances. They may fear that their parents will scold them. They may also feel weak for being unable to defend themselves.⁣

As a parent, it is your responsibility to create and maintain an open line of communication. Your child should feel comfortable approaching you at all times. If you’ve suspected that your child is being bullied, but they’re not confirming it, start by working on your communication. Spend more time with your child and develop a friendly connection with them.⁣

You can still parent your child without micromanaging them to the point that they feel suffocated. Your child will not open up to you if they feel that you’re judging or berating them every time they converse with you. Develop a different approach. An open, friendly, supportive and empathetic approach will make it easier for your child to trust and open up to you. They’ll begin to share more with you.⁣

This approach works exceptionally well, as it makes parents aware of what’s going on in their child’s life. If they’re being bullied, you’ll know exactly who is bullying them and how it’s affecting your child. This information will go a long way in helping you reach out to the right people and protect your child. However, many parents never receive this information because their children don’t trust them. If you fear that this is the case, start undoing the damage right away. It will help significantly.⁣

Schedule a counselling meeting for your child⁣

We understand that many students who join our institution have dealt with cases of school bullying in the past. While these instances stop once students start their online schooling journey, the pain caused by bullying often persists for much, much longer. It’s also possible that the bullying is ongoing. Your child’s previous school bullies may still be in touch with them, virtually or during friend hangouts.⁣

Schedule a counselling meeting for your child. In this way, you can ensure that your child is receiving consistent support, which goes a long way in helping them acclimatise to online learning.⁣

We believe that maintaining this balance is extremely important. To perform well in school, students must feel content, motivated, and rested. We offer greater flexibility than conventional schooling, helping students focus on other aspects of their lives: sports, skill development, hobbies, excursions, socialisation, traveling, volunteering, etc. Students are not bullied at Think Digital Academy. In fact, they’re allowed to heal from past bullying.⁣

Support your child⁣

Parental support is extremely important. If your child is being bullied at school, they need to be cared for. They need support, guidance, reassurance and encouragement. As a parent, make sure you’re there for your child. Care for their needs and make sure they understand that they have endless support from their parents, siblings and friends. Plan a small get-together for your child. If your child is older, make sure you ask them beforehand. If they agree, start preparing.⁣

Asking your child is extremely important, as older students aren’t always fond of surprises. It’s also possible that you accidentally invited someone your child wasn’t planning to see. Parents don’t always know what’s going on in their child’s life, no matter how close they may be. Ask your child beforehand. If they’re younger, you can proceed with a surprise. However, you should still take special care when choosing who to invite. The last thing you want to do is invite your child’s bully.⁣

In addition to planning a fun get-together for your child, speak openly and candidly with them. Tell them that you’re there for them and willing to listen. Instead of being intrusive and pushing, simply extend the invitation to talk and let them use it if they need to, when they need to. As a parent, you must respect your child’s boundaries. Do not, under any circumstances, share the information they disclosed to you with other parents. You may feel like this is the right thing to do. However, you must protect your child’s privacy and avoid going against their wishes.⁣

Remember, children can easily lose trust in their parents. You do not want this to happen. Your child may stop sharing anything with you. Avoid this by helping when they need help and giving them the space to heal. Extending the token of support will go a long way in helping your child understand that you’re there for them when they need you!⁣

Ask your child how you can help⁣

This is one of the best measures you can take as a parent. Unfortunately, many parents impose their own understanding of care and support on their children. This isn’t always the correct approach. You may think setting up a fun family activity will help your child take their mind off the bullying. While this sounds like an excellent approach, it’s not always what children need. It’s possible that your child doesn’t want to interact with family members. They may prefer something more private with just the two of you. Every child has a different understanding of care and support.⁣

The best thing you can do is ask them how you can help. They may want to vent. In that case, you can listen and show your support as a parent. It’s also possible that your child prefers distraction as a way of coping with the bullying. In this case, you can ask them what sort of activity they’d like you to plan. This is a great way to provide the care and support your child needs at any given moment.⁣

At Think Digital Academy, we’re committed to helping students enjoy good mental health, secure good grades and become well-rounded students. If your child is struggling in school, consider making the switch to online learning.⁣

We provide a quality South African and British online education to students all around the globe. Let’s start securing a brighter future for your child.

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You’re either the favourite parent or the least favourite. Either way, parenting can be hard. That’s why we’re here to help. And not just by providing easy, flexible and extremely fun schooling options, but also by providing ideas for raising happy children.

Is your child happy?

A child’s emotional well-being is a priority for all parents. Many parents aspire to provide their child with the keys to emotional well-being: meeting their basic needs, providing a safe and secure home, and providing them with activities that will stimulate their mental development.

There are many ways that you can do this in your daily family life. Playtime and bedtime are two commonly scheduled activities. Of course, reading to children and playing with them makes them very happy. But it’s not only about fun and games; there are many more benefits for your kids. Raising happy kids takes hard work, but you can have fun too.

Read bedtime stories

From a young age, there are many benefits associated with reading to your children and encouraging them to read themselves. Children’s picture books are designed to help children develop good language skills and, from a young age, you can assist your child to learn about the world through all kinds of books. Reading books together and at bedtime, will help your child to develop a good vocabulary. Studies show that children who are read to from a young age are far more likely to continue reading into adulthood. Think Digital shares a new story in our Reading Room three times a week, which gives you the opportunity to read a new story to your child before bedtime.

Teach children sharing

From a young age, children are far more sensitive to the world around them than many adults, but they also need to be taught to care about other people. Children are naturally self-centred and not in a purposefully selfish way, – it’s just that their perspectives are limited to their subjective world view, and parents need to help them and teach them to look beyond their own concerns.

You could have a communal family toy-box that is for all your children to share – and only let them take ownership of a few select personal toys (e.g. Birthday gifts). If you feel you have too many toys, donating your child’s toys without discussing it with them and having their full agreement is never a good idea. In principle, you may think this is a charitable act, but children can be very attached to their physical world and will feel they are being punished if you threaten to donate their toys. Rather, consider teaching children to share among themselves, and in time, they may develop a practical sense of charity that allows the gesture to expand to others independently.

Adopt a family pet

One of the best ways that you can teach your children to look past their own needs, and to be more considerate, is to adopt a family pet. Teaching your children to share the responsibility of taking care of a pet will help them to develop better compassion and will set them on the path to becoming a caring person.

Learning compassion and empathy is also strongly influenced by the example that you set. Your children are learning from you: you are their strongest role model and should lead by example. Empathy can, in this way, develop over time, as they see you showing compassion and care to the people around you.

Family fun time

A happy child enjoys playtime. Modern lifestyles have robbed many families of precious hours in a day to spend together playing. Choose to spend quality time together having fun and playing. What could be better for your children than playing with Mom and Dad?

Children love to play all kinds of games. Think of physically active choices that involve the whole family, for example water games or racing games. If physical games are less easily adopted in your family, there are plenty of ways you can engage your sense of fun with art or the mind. Board games, drawing games and word games all allow families to bond and create memories together.

Children who are exposed to early reading, who learn to share, who learn to care for others, who are compassionate and who are engaged in their family with participation and games, will be far happier children and adults, too. Have fun together – its good for the whole family!

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Give our online learning platform a try and enrol for our free 14 day trial today.

In days passed, many people assumed that children with ADD/ADHD were simply naughty or lazy to concentrate. It is true that many students only excel in the subjects which they are interested in or perhaps even aspects of the subject which interest them. Children with ADD/ADHD do try to reach academic expectations, but and if they don’t achieve these expectations, depression, anxiety and even low self-esteem often follow. This could be attributed to being properly diagnosed or a lack of understanding and support. The amount of diagnosed cases of children with ADD/ADHD has increased over the last decade and is usually treated with medication to increase concentration or the parent can choose the Alternative Therapy route which can also prove to assist the student in concentration, too.

What is ADD/ADHD?

ADHD was first discovered in the year 1902 by British paediatrician Sir George Frederic Still who described it as “an abnormal defect of moral control in children”. He went on to note that children with ADD/ADHD had difficulty controlling their behaviour the way a typical child could, but that they were just as intelligent. Often, extremely intelligent students find it difficult to focus or concentrate because of this and start to believe they aren’t as intelligent as other students because they may perhaps do poorly on exams or assignments when the exact opposite is true. It is extremely important that a diagnosis is made before the child reaches the point where they become hopeless. ADD/ADHD can be noticed most prevalently between the ages of 3 and 6 and is a chronic condition that can be diagnosed before the age of 7. It includes attention difficulty, hyper-activity and impulsiveness. This condition, as mentioned above, often begins in childhood and can last through to adulthood. ADD/ADHD contributes to low self-esteem, troubled relationships and difficulty at school and/or work.

How do i know my child has this condition?

Like any condition, there are certain signs that you have ADD/ADHD. These signs are split up into 3 main categories: Inattentiveness; Hyper-Activity and Impulsiveness and Combination Type.

Inattentiveness is most commonly associated with girls and can lead to difficulty concentrating and focusing. This may make it difficult to complete tasks that require a lot of attention or focus as they often make careless mistakes and have difficulty organizing tasks. They have a short attention span and are easily distracted. They sometimes appear forgetful and may have a tendency to lose things. They also tend to have difficulty completing tedious or time-consuming tasks and may find it difficult to listen or carry out instructions.

Hyperactivity andImpulsiveness is the category that is more prominent in boys than girls. This category includes constant fidgeting, the inability to sit still (especially in silence), lack of concentration on tasks, excessive physical movement or talking, inability to wait their turn, acting impulsively, interrupting conversations and little or no sense of danger. All of these make it very difficult for the child to function in a school environment. Home-schooling may be a very viable option for a child within this category.

Combination Type is common in both genders with girls tending towards the more inattentive side and boys the more hyper-active and impulsive side. This category is the more common category with most children matching up with both symptoms of hyper-activity and inattentiveness. A child may sometimes only have a few of these traits and not all of them.

There is no simple test that you can do to determine if you or child has ADD/ADHD. You can only watch and observe for traits they may have that fall into these categories. Since disorders such as depression, anxiety and specific sleep issues can often get mixed with ADD/ADHD it is always important for your healthcare professional to rule these out before a diagnosis can be made.

For someone to be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD effectively, they will need to display 6 of the inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviour traits. These traits must also manifest before the age of 12 and needs to be noticeable in more than one setting (e.g., home and school). They need to be a hindrance in your everyday life.

An initial diagnosis may reveal one type of ADD/ADHD, but this may change over time making it necessary for people to go for re-evaluations once they get older. As children get older and come to reach their mid-20s, these traits no longer manifest themselves. The condition will always be there, but the traits won’t necessarily manifest themselves. If you think your child has ADD/ADHD, consult with your child’s school counsellor, teacher or physician in order to treat it.

How do I treat it?

ADD/ADHD may be treated, but it can never be cured. Should you have this condition, you may find it will last for years or even your whole life. In order to formulate a strategy to treat the condition, you will need a medical diagnosis. There are various ways to treat ADD/ADHD.

There are medications that can treat the ADD/ADHD. These can include psychostimulants such as Ritalin or Concerta, antidepressants such as Wellburtin and Effexor and non-stimulants such as Strattera and Intuniv.

There is also behavioural management therapy, parent training in behaviour management, behavioural intervention in school and behavioural peer interventions.

A lot of people prefer the more holistic approach when treating ADD/ADHD. Exercises such as yoga are known to improve mood and focus in both children and adults. Diet is another factor in managing ADD/ADHD. According to research avoiding fried foods, added sugars, salt and artificial ingredients can drastically reduce the effects of the ADD/ADHD. Adequate nutrition, regular meals and high intake of vegetables are all known to improve moods in children with ADD/ADHD.

However, at the end of the day, choosing the right treatment depends on the child and their family. Parents need to work in conjunction with healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, coaches and other family members. If you as a parent create a routine, manage distractions, limit choices, be clear and specific when you talk with your child, use goals and praise as well as effective discipline you will find it much easier to manage this condition.

If you look at the world today, you will find that every one of us have a touch of ADD/ADHD. Some blame could be attributed to diet and when we think of all the preservatives and chemicals that are included in the manufacture of food, we can understand this position. Our children need specific assistance with not only their education, but also with everyday life. Assessing and responding early is the key to success.

Guest writer: Kristal Williams

References

Mayo Clinic
National Health Service (NHS) – United Kingdom
NHS Symptoms – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Verywell Mind – ADD and ADHD: Differences, Diagnosis, & Treatments
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Healthline – www.heathline.com/health/adhd/three-types-adhd#causes – article no longer available online

We hate to bring this up, but…
Remember your New Year’s resolution? The one to implement less screen time (the Netflix and Fortnite kind) and more exercise? Remember how motivated and grit-your-teeth determined you were? Well, we’re 3.5 months into the year and we’re quite aware that a large chunk of that may have faded away into nothingness.

Worry not. It happens to the best of us. You just need something to spark your enthusiasm. Now we’re not saying that this blog is the thing to do that, but we’re not saying it isn’t either.

With online learning gaining more momentum in the South Africa, many parents, students and educators have had to navigate learning at home using digital mediums. While many less established, less reputable online schools have popped up since the pandemic, long-established selective schools like Think Digital Academy are the sensible choice. We know that the best online school curricula must be supported by other activities that help children explore diverse interests and improve their overall wellbeing.

Between online lessons, we encourage children to take on extracurricular activities outside the standard educational curriculum. These activities can help fuel your child’s passion and boost academic and social skills.

The benefits of participating in extracurricular activities

Getting involved in societies, sports clubs, part-time work and volunteering are all excellent ways to use free time. Here are some of the top benefits of participating in these extracurricular activities:

  • Allow your child to develop new skills that enrich their lives for years to come.
  • Instil a sense of belonging and improve social development as children interact with others.
  • Improve self-esteem; a study revealed that adolescents participating in extracurricular activities had lower levels of anxiety and higher levels of optimism.
  • Extracurricular activities help build positive habits, including time management skills, persistence and community involvement.
  • Boost academic performance; another study found that children who engage in extracurricular activities show improvement in educational outcomes, such as subject grades, reading and maths.

Depending on the nature of the activity (physical, creative, or intellectual), there are plenty of options that can help build skills in various developmental areas.

Here are a few choices that can help your teen discover a hobby that may ignite a true passion.

1 – Sports

Sports activities are some of the most common extracurricular activities in South Africa. Soccer clubs, swimming lessons and cricket training camps are popular with students as young as pre-schoolers. Many city recreation departments offer spaces for sports practice and you can also opt for private lessons.

Sports clubs are an excellent way to promote physical activity. Given that children spend several hours a day sitting during school lessons, exercise is of the utmost importance.

Exercise can help lower the risk of many physiological ailments such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndromes and obesity. At the same time, it has also been linked to improved mental health as it boosts mood, improves cognitive function, and enhances energy.

2 – Martial arts

Martial arts and boxing are becoming increasingly popular amongst teens. Depending on your child’s interests and agility level, there are various art forms that your teen may want to try.

Judo, for instance, generally requires a high level of agility and flexibility. Other forms include striking arts such as Karate and Taekwondo require significant focus, fast reflexes and swift footwork.

Martial art is a brilliant form of exercise because it involves a full-body workout. It helps increase flexibility, co-ordination and response time. It can also equip the student with necessary self-defence skills.

3 – Dance

Kids and teens that aren’t interested in sports may be interested in dance. In addition to providing a full-body workout, dance classes help children socialise which boosts their self-confidence and is a great way to unwind. While your children may argue that they feel more relaxed after playing video games or watching movies, spending a prolonged period on these hobbies can make children lethargic.

Dance is a form of self-expression that even introverts swear by. Much like mixed martial arts, it helps children blow off steam while staying disciplined and focused on their movements.

4 – Gymnastics

Children often take up gymnastics to support other activities such as sports training or dance training. Other times, children may take up gymnastic lessons to enjoy the athletic skill on its own. Either way, it’s a great way to help your child improve flexibility and co-ordination.

More so than any other sport, gymnastics focuses on the fundamentals of movement. As children develop dexterity, they learn about graceful movement and the importance of a healthy body.

5 – Community service

Community service is an excellent activity that can teach your children valuable life skills outside the classroom setting. Above all, community service helps teens learn about the value of empathy and being grateful.

Children are able to build ties with community members and become more aware of their surroundings and the people around them. Exposing your children to diverse people, age groups, situations and issues will help them become more accepting.

As they participate in volunteer opportunities, they will likely take on more responsibility and develop essential team management and leadership skills that’ll help them throughout their lives.

6 – Painting

While painting and drawing are often encouraged for younger children, their therapeutic effects for teenagers are often overlooked. For teens who struggle to convey their feelings, creative activities, such as painting, sculpting and photography, can help them express their thoughts.

The process often focuses on thinking outside the box, free expression and building personal insight. By expressing pent up emotions, children can regain self-control and confidence through the process. Consequently, they perform better academically and hone their artistic skills alongside their school work.

7 – STEM Programmes

For children who enjoy STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), there are several avenues where they can explore their interests beyond the online classroom.

STEM programmes are designed to encourage exploratory learning and problem-solving across a variety of disciplines and tasks. They make science and maths more fun as well as provide a hands-on experience that fuels creativity, knowledge, application and experimentation.

Video game development, coding and robotics are some examples of the STEM programmes offered to students worldwide. Think Digital Academy offers Coding and Robotics to children of all age groups too.

8 – Horseback riding

Horseback riding offers a great opportunity for you to get your teens off the couch and out into nature. Riding is an excellent form of exercise that keeps them active during the day. A 2011 study of the British Horse Society even found that general horseback riding—if done for a minimum of 30 minutes, at least three times a week, counts for moderate-intensity exercise.

In addition to aerobic benefits, your teen’s coordination, flexibility and balance are also developed through riding.

What’s more, is that horses make for great riding companions and the bond a rider makes with their horse tends to last a lifetime. Another study found that youngsters who work with horses displayed lower stress hormone levels known as cortisol.

9 – Cooking

Cooking is a valuable life skill that everyone should have, regardless of the resources at hand. Every parent wants their child to be self-reliant and independent—and cooking can help them get one step closer. A teen who knows they can look after themselves will be more open to taking on life’s challenges.

Teenagers who exhibit creative ability usually thrive in this area, as it serves as an interesting creative outlet. They get to relax, enjoy and experiment with food and flavours while understanding the importance of healthy eating.

10 – Gardening

Convincing your teen to put away their phone and join you outside may seem like a long shot, but given the right tools, encouragement and opportunity, you may be able to foster a love of gardening in your child. The best part is that you don’t need sprawling greens to enjoy this activity; many fruits and vegetables can be grown in small containers, wall-mounted racks or even in larger sized pots.

Gardening instils a sense of responsibility as they nurture seeds into blooming flowers. In many ways, it’s like crop farming in “Minecraft” or caring for your crops in online games such as “Farmville”.

The outdoor time promotes physical exercise and can even encourage healthier eating habits in your child. The best part is that at the end of the day, your children can quite literally reap what they sow.

Choosing and scheduling afterschool activities for your teen

When trying to get your teen interested in afterschool activities, it’s better to give them options and let them decide. Look for activities sponsored by local recreation departments that they can pursue during their free time in order to recharge.

Regardless of the activities you choose for your child, it’s important not to overschedule. It’s essential to understand your child and their preferences first.

Some children thrive with busier schedules and can handle more than one activity, while others require more downtime between their online schooling and extracurricular activities.

A good rule of thumb is to cut back on activities if your child struggles to get eight hours of sleep every night or has trouble getting their academic work done.

Complementing online learning with extracurricular activities

There’s no denying that online schooling options for students have gained a lot of traction in the last few years. An online school offers some excellent advantages for children and parents, including enhanced flexibility, a better quality of education, reduced instances of bullying and improved mental health.

Think Digital Academy provides quality education across three schools, including Pre-Primary, Primary and High School. Recognised for being a top Online School for two years consecutively, our MA/PhD qualified, subject specialist teachers who have recorded the online lessons use a state of the art Learner Management System to keep learners captivated and engaged in order to achieve high levels of academic success.

We’re trusted by parents all over the world because we offer:

  • Cutting-edge online education learner management system
  • Pre-recorded lessons (with 24/7 access)
  • Printable study notes
  • Memos
  • Assessments with feedback
  • Weekly e-mailed reports
  • Quarterly reports
  • Student forum
  • Comprehensive online library of resources for students

We also have Student Success Coaches who are there to assist and guide parents with any queries to ensure that their children are happy and successful achievers. Read about our key services.

Written by Kristal Williams

Each of us has a differing learning style. Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” This has never been truer than it is today. We face a world where varying learning challenges cause many students to seek alternatives to conventional learning and as a result, feel inadequate.

Many parents, teachers and learning coaches wonder if there are other holistic teaching methods which can assist their students to obtain good results and still thrive. Perhaps the question we should all be asking is; “ Why not start exploring methods that meet our children where they are?” There are three methods which were specifically founded to address the four learning styles. Those methods are known as Kolb’s learning method; Dunn & Dunn; and Fleming & Mill’s VARK method. Our topic for investigation today will be on the VARK method.

The VARK Method

There are four different methods used by VARK to address the different learning types. These learning styles are collectively called “VARK” and represent the four different learning styles: visual (or spatial), auditory (or verbal), reading & writing and kinaesthetic (or tactile). This method was established by Neil Fleming in 1987.

Visual or Spatial

Visual learners have a tendency to follow instructions. These students have natural balance and alignment. They are very good organisers and are able to note even the slightest difference in people and objects. These students also have the ability to envision imagery very easily and thus are able to envision passages in a book very easily.

In order to help these learners with their learning, try looking at highlighting important words in colour or perhaps examining headings and pictures before going through the text. These learners need to be in a position where they are able to see their teacher at all times when in a brick and mortar classroom. These learners should also take their own notes.

Auditory or Aural

Auditory learners recall information that is spoken to them, such as instructions or passages in a book that are read aloud. They have good articulating skills, which are also accompanied by strong listening skills. They excel at oral exams and do best while reading aloud.

They benefit from group discussions and, if you play background music, you will help them to concentrate better. However, background noises tend to distract them, so try to limit that kind of noise. These learners will often ask for verbal instructions and work best when given these kinds of instructions.

Kinaesthetic or Tactile

Learners who are kinaesthetic have to be kept busy in order to facilitate their learning. This is achieved by engaging them in physical activities as opposed to a simple lecture or demonstration. They require a hands-on experience such as experimenting or testing, trial and error. This kind of learning could be excursions or simply leaving the classroom. They enjoy building things and working with their hands and thus would love to create things.

Allow a kinaesthetic learner to participate in physical activities, and allow them to express themselves in order to engage in their lessons. Activities such as class games or even treasure hunts are other means by which you can engage these learners in their lessons. Give them tactile stimulation with objects such as pipe cleaners, slime and playdough. They are also better at sign language than most learners because of their extremely expressive nature.

Reading & Writing

This specific branch of VARK is thought to be a sub-type of Visual learning. This learner understands concepts better when they write their lessons down or read them. This is because they absorb more information through words. They do very well with text-based assignments as well as written quizzes or otherwise written assignments. When this learner is working with charts or diagrams, let them write them out as words as they absorb text better than they do images. These learners find that writing, reading articles and taking notes are very helpful when learning.

In order to aid these learners in the learning process, convert their notes into a learnable package by reducing the notes to a manageable size. Writing words over and over again can help these learners absorb more information. These learners should go through their notes quietly over and over again as well as do any extra suggested reading. They should make use of digital devices to organise their ideas as well as help them learn new words. They will need to use multiple lists to help them distinguish each concept from the other.

With these particular learners, study methods such as taking lots of notes, rewriting them and going through them again and again as well as keeping study notes/summaries and making bullet-point lists will help them remember more.

Conclusion

When all is said and done, we are a combination of many of these learning types, with some more dominant than others. VARK is simply a method by which we can identify all these dominant learning methods as well as how to address them as parents, teachers and learners.

According to Fleming and Baume, “VARK above all is designed to be a starting place for a conversation among teachers, tutors, parents and learners about learning. It can also be a catalyst for staff development – thinking about strategies for teaching different groups can lead to more, and appropriate, variety of learning and teaching.”

The benefits of online learning are extensive.

We would list them, but we have a word limit we’d likely hit before we finished.

Most things that are this good for you are either very boring, very difficult or very hard to achieve. Like consuming copious amounts of plain old water, rigorous exercise and an unbroken eight hours of sleep a night.

Online learning though, is none of those things. And here’s why.

As online schooling becomes the preferred choice for many parents across South Africa and the rest of the world, its benefits have been actively circulating the web. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are interested in exploring how online learning can help their children grow academically and non-academically. They’re also curious about the flexibility online schooling has to offer to parents.

In this article, we’ll cover a common facet of online schooling: discipline. You may have heard that switching from conventional school to South Africa’s 2x award-winning online school, will help your child become more disciplined in their academics as well as all round. You may also have wondered whether there’s any truth to this statement.

A strong focus on scheduling and consistency

Online schooling offers a lot of flexibility to students. Unlike conventional school, online school helps students absorb and retain more knowledge in a shorter time span. This is largely because students are able to tailor their learning and schedules to something that fits their needs best. For example, they have the ability to move ahead when something is grasped quickly and similarly, they can select to spend more time on something with which they struggle.

Since the lessons have been designed to keep students captivated and engaged; the high-definition videos, strong visuals, narrated information and engaging quizzes, each child is engaged with the content for a longer time span. In other words, they learn more actively, attentively and retentively. As a result, students don’t have to spend hours in the classroom; focused learning helps them reap the benefits of a flexible schedule.

This flexibility comes with a lot of responsibility, which is instilled in students from the get-go. At Think Digital Academy, our lesson methodology experts and instructional designers along with our MA/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers are particularly focused on inculcating an attitude of enquiry, discipline and responsibility in students. Students are encouraged to follow a schedule they’ve set up for themselves, ensure consistency and adopt a disciplined approach to their studies and non-academic life.

Success coaching

At Think Digital Academy, our Student Success Coaches are available to all students at all times during operating hours. We provide weekly activity reports and copies of assessments completed by the students to all our parents to ensure that each student is on track. This assists parents and students to provide the support and guidance they need to feel their best, perform optimally and overcome common academic and non-academic hurdles with ease and adroitness moving forward.

Students can get distracted easily. We live in a world that involves active social media use, which can trigger a lack of discipline in students. With procrastination, complacency, and nonchalance on the rise, students often neglect their studies and adopt a laidback approach to life. We counter these effects by providing parents with a detailed weekly activity report, detailing all of the student’s activity on the dashboard. This includes times logged in and out, time spent on lessons, lessons watched, quizzes / assessments completed and results obtained. This keeps the students accountable for work completed as well as academic progress and achievement which, as a result, focuses on the importance of ensuring discipline in every stage of life: academic, personal and social.

Skill-building activities

The right activities can help shape a student’s mindset. Unfortunately, many institutions select activities that simply keep students preoccupied instead of offering valuable lessons.

Our lesson activities include skill-building activities that help students develop essential skills like discipline, responsibility, honesty, hard work, commitment and resilience among others.

Instead of simply being told about the value of discipline, students get a chance to exercise self-discipline in their daily online school routines. This helps them become more disciplined in different facets of their life.

At Think Digital Academy, we provide a quality South African CAPS, British International and American GED online education across four schools: Early Childhood (ages 5 to 6), Primary (ages 7 to 13) and High school (ages 14 to 18). Explore our online schooling programmes to get started.

Free trial

If you have not joined us yet, why not enrol for our free 14 day trial to explore our e-learning environment.