It’s unlikely that anyone will ever look back at an exam period with fond memories.

Chances are, most people remember exams as a blur of long nights spent cramming, minimal sleep and extreme stress.

But alas, it doesn’t need to be this way!

No, we’re sorry, you can’t skip exams:

but you can give yourself the best chance for success by rewriting, memorising and reciting our five top tips for exam preparation.

Follow these five rules and you’ll be totally prepped for exam time!

Bring the right mindset on game day. Build confidence early.

In the words of Michael Jordan:

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

Whether you feel you’re going to pass with flying colours or whether you think you’re in for an uphill battle, you must put in 100% at all times.

The mindset with which you approach your exam preparation and your exam can have a dramatic influence on your results.

Mentally preparing for an exam is just as important as the study and academic preparation you put in beforehand.

Pre-exam, try not to be over confident or overly pessimistic, always remain grounded and realistic and try to avoid coffee and energy drinks; calm focus is best.

Tip: When you enter your exam, try to answer a few questions that you’re confident in early. This will help to build your assurance, eradicate any pre-exam nerves and set you up for a stellar performance.

Keep your eye on the prize – in this case, it’s the time

Sitting an exam is like running a marathon, it’s long, it’s exhausting, it can be absolutely overwhelming and in order to beat your personal best, you have to be aware of the time.

Before you begin the exam, know how many questions you need to complete and how much time there is provided for each.

Try to spend only the time you’ve provided yourself to answer each question, even if you feel you could address the question for much longer.

Making sure you complete each question will provide you with more marks than if you answer only half the questions thoroughly.

Always keep an eye on the clock.

If you’re stumped on a question, move on.

If you get stumped on a tough question early, don’t let it ruin your time management strategy or your confidence.

Move on to the next question and come back to it later.

The longer you spend stumped on one tough question may lead you to miss out on two to three easy marks later in the exam.

Sticking with our marathon analogy, you might hit a wall, but you must keep moving forward!

Read each question slowly and then re-read it again (even slower) before answering

Read. Each. Question. Slowly.

This is so important and easily the single most underrated strategy in sitting an exam.

It’s common practice for exams to deliberately word questions that could catch you out if you’re not paying attention to the detail of the language or the diagram.

If you’re not careful, easy marks can slip through your fingers.

Always, ALWAYS, read slowly and make sure you understand exactly what you’re being asking before you answer.

Don’t be complacent.

Overlooking a multiple choice question and marking the wrong box, misreading the time of your exam and rocking up an hour late, or forgetting your textbook for an open book exam are all common and easily avoidable mistakes.

At any stage of the exam, pre, during and post:

try not to become complacent, give the exam your full respect.

While you may find that some questions are actually easy, if you become too relaxed answering the “easy” questions, it could ruin your exam technique moving forward.

Stay alert, come prepared and take each question on its merit. Don’t be the next exam horror story!

Good Luck!

How to use smartphones and tablets to boost your child’s education

Maybe your child’s a genius…

…and they’ve already taught themselves Mandarin AND learnt all the words to Shakespeare’s Othello. Backwards. At only 5 years old.

Maybe they’re hiding it from you because they don’t want to “freak you out.”

And yes, sure, maybe they’d also like to stall the inevitability of going to a traditional school, and chores, and adult this-n-thats for as long as possible.

Selfish little rascal.

There’s only ONE way to know for sure though – give them a tablet with educational content on it. Or better yet, sign them up to Think Digital Academy and let their online learning begin.

Before the 1990s, we had Education 1.0. The edge of millenniums passed under the sign of Education 2.0. Nowadays, we are entering the era of Education 3.0, marked by the revolutionary combination of the internet and the mobile. Our children are being affected by these changes above everyone else.

They start to operate mobile gadgets, use educational apps and visit learning websites even before being able to walk. Only yesterday they were prohibited from using their hi-tech gadgets in classrooms; today schools hand out smartphones and tablet, and use online learning programs for a broad range of subjects.

Ultimately, the most prominent features of Education 3.0 are:

  1. online learning lets you study anything, anywhere or on the go;
  2. wide adoption of technology;
  3. low costs – there are hundreds of cheap handheld devices and free learning resources;
  4. eliminated boundaries between disciplines, institutions, and nations;
  5. students are partly teachers as the teaching is done teacher to student, student to student, student to teacher.

As a result, education nowadays becomes something that modern children literally walk around with in their pocket. Parents must not stand aside from this fundamental shift. They should learn how to use technology to their kids’ benefit, including boosting their education.

Technology can help your child be a better learner. Embrace the fact that iPads and tablets are part of our lives and that we should harness it to assist in our children’s education now, while inevitably waiting for the next amazing technology to improve upon these devices.

Download and print the infographic.

And don’t forget to try out our free two week trial.

There are two types of parents in this world.

The type that wonder and research everything to add to their fountain of knowledge. And the type that pretend to research everything, but they’re actually just re-sharing facts that they’ve learned from other parents.

If you fall within the first category, awesome! Today’s blog is definitely for you.

And if you fall within the second category, that’s great! Today’s blog is definitely for you too.

Did you know that all children are predominantly left or right brained?

So if you’ve been wondering which one of the two your child is, you’re in the right place.

And if you were just on the hunt for an interesting new read, you’re still in the right place.

Left-brain oriented learners tend to like structure, focus on details, enjoy organisation and logic, and can express themselves with words. Memorisation comes easily and left-brained learners tend to learn best by repetition.

These children work effectively with a step-by-step sequential approach, like to work independently, have a strong sense of time, and are objective. Writing and spelling generally comes easily to these learners, and they tend to learn well from instruction. Arithmetic, with its logical, sequential steps, is also a subject in which left-brained children often excel, although conceptual mathematical subjects such as geometry may be challenging. Left-brained children tend to benefit from an auditory teaching style, and often demonstrate academic aptitude early on.

Right-brain oriented learners, on the other hand, are visual. They focus on holistic concepts rather than details. They tend to be unstructured and impulsive, and are usually very creative, often demonstrating proficiency in art or music. These children do not enjoy working independently; they learn best from discussion, interaction, cooperation, and involvement with whatever they are learning. Right-brained children think in pictures rather than words. They generally have a good sense of spatial orientation (but not a good sense of time) and are attuned to emotions. These children prefer the main idea to the details, and often learn in spurts rather than in a steady sequence. Right-brain oriented learners often come to conclusions intuitively, without knowing the steps by which they got to the answer, and often prefer a visual and/or kinesthetic teaching style. It is not uncommon for right-brain oriented children to be “late bloomers” academically.

If you are struggling in your online / homeschooling journey with a child who is not learning effectively, you might have a child with right-brain learning characteristics. In addition to the characteristics above, ask yourself these questions as a right-brain left-brain test to determine whether your child has the characteristics of a right-brain orientation.

If you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, you’re said to be left-brained. If you tend to be more creative or artistic, you’re thought to be right-brained. This theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently.

What is the difference between the two?

The brain is divided into symmetrical left and right hemispheres. Each hemisphere oversees the opposite side of the body, so your right brain controls your left hand. The right hemisphere also takes in sensory input from your left side and vice versa. The brain is segmented into regions called lobes.

Our brains consist of two sides or hemispheres. Children with behavioural, academic, social, or other challenges often have an imbalance in hemispheric brain communication – this is referred to as “functional disconnection syndrome”, or where one hemisphere is processing information too slowly. This causes one side of the brain to be stronger, while the other side develops more slowly and is weaker.

The right hemisphere of the brain controls sensory processing and expression. Children who are weaker left-brainers are often very visual, spontaneous, emotional, and intuitive but may struggle academically with memorising facts and paying attention to details.

Learning strategies

Because these children can often find it difficult to memorise facts with auditory cues such as repetition or rhymes, a good idea is to provide visual cues like picture stories which appeal to the emotions or concrete objects like blocks or coloured counters. For example, when teaching letters of the alphabet or vocabulary, integrate the letter or word into a small cartoon so that your child remembers the whole picture. Use a similar strategy for numbers, bringing colours and images into play.

Working in groups is an ideal situation for weaker left-brain children as they like to tackle art projects and often come up with stimulating and original ideas. They respond well to visual demonstrations on PowerPoint and enjoy music, videos, and dance as methods of learning. Role playing is enjoyed by right-brainers, as they prefer to be in the middle of the action rather than listening to a lesson.

Left-brained child: behaviour at home

If your child’s left hemisphere controls are in charge, you will notice him or her displaying certain traits at home. For example, he or she may like to keep the same routine, such as eating the same foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Left-brained children also appreciate directions and tend to follow directions well.

One of the most noticeable left-brain characteristics is a tidy room. If you rarely tell your child to clean, he or she may have dominant left hemisphere controls. As helpful as this can be at home, you might notice that many left-brained children are not very emotional or very affectionate. They are inclined towards logical thinking instead and, they may often like to spend time alone.

Right or left? Why the side of a brain makes a difference

Many children (and adults) exhibit a mixture of qualities from both brain areas. However, knowing which side is predominant in your child can make all the difference when they are learning, as well as help you identify the learning style that should be employed while learning with them.

One of the most well-known right-brained people to ever live was the genius, Albert Einstein. He was a difficult child, because people thought he had learning disabilities as he could not write down simple steps when doing mathematical equations. However, he always got the right result! The problem he had, and that most right-brained children have, is that they tend to work in wholes instead of in parts.

Other qualities right-brained children may have include:

  • great physical and sports abilities,
  • an aptitude for learning when being shown rather than told,
  • preferring to work in teams rather than solo, and
  • solving problems intuitively.

This is why right-brained thinkers tend to choose future careers that are more intuitive and require less organisation and structure. They often go into fields like acting, sports, politics, crafts, or any occupation that involves interaction (with people or animals).

Left-brained thinkers are more common and thus, most education systems are geared towards learning and text that is more favourable to them. Left-brained children are more likely to score well in their exams.

Left-brained thinkers favour:

  • verbal instructions,
  • reading,
  • silence when they are concentrating,
  • planning and organisation when starting a task.

These left-brained thinkers tend to choose careers that are highly structured and organised such as banking, law, mathematics and science.

Here are some techniques that you can use to help your child if they are highly right-brained in their thinking.

  • Using tactile objects while teaching them a topic. For instance, use alphabet blocks to help them learn spelling or real money to help them learn mathematics.
  • Since they can lose focus easily, use a spot or desk light when they are reading. This helps them focus their concentration more effectively.
  • Use images or drawings whenever possible, especially in subjects like math and science, which are harder for them to grasp. You can ask them draw out elements or objects to represent numbers.
  • Encourage discussions; learning with people helps them to grasp ideas and concepts quicker.
  • Play music during study time – this can help them take in more information.

Yes, you read right, we’re South Africa’s two time award-winning virtual school of the year, for two years in a row.

So if you’re genuinely tempted to change your kids’ school, we wouldn’t be too surprised.

As far as schools go, we’re pretty good, and although we don’t like to brag too much, facts are facts.

Here are just a few reasons as to why you’ll love us as much as our students do.

1. Pre-recorded lessons

All our lessons have been recorded and taught by subject matter experts and masters in their fields. These lessons can be accessed from anywhere at any time, provided you have a stable internet connection. Lessons can also be viewed “offline” on our Think Digital Academy App which is available on the Google Play App Store.

2. Printable study notes

All subjects across all grades have printable PDF summaries which can be used as study notes in preparation for your assessments.

3. Memos

Each lesson contains one or more activities which have to be completed either online or in your workbooks. Memos have been provided for all the lesson activities which enables you to check and mark your own work.

4. Assessments and feedback

Assessments are completed once all the content for the term has been successfully completed and covered. Students in Grades/Stages R-9 will receive instant feedback on their assessment once it has been completed and a copy of the assessment is emailed directly to the parent or tutor. This is a useful tool which enables parents/tutors to easily identify and remedy any areas of concern.

5. Weekly e-mailed reports

A weekly report is mailed to the parent or the tutor of the student every Monday morning. This report details all of the student’s activity on the system during the preceding week. The report will include useful information such as which lessons the student has viewed, which have been completed, what scores were achieved in the lesson quizzes, how long the student spent on each lesson etc.

6. Quarterly reports

Students are able to download and print their final reports at the end of each term. Once all four terms have successfully been completed, a final report displaying results for each term can be printed.

Our reports are recognised and accepted by all government and private schools, globally.

Students who receive the National Senior Certificate (NSC) certificate, can apply at their prospective universities, provided they meet the minimum entry requirements. Similarly, students who receive the British International certificates for GCSE and AS levels, can also apply at their perspective universities locally and abroad, provided they meet the minimum entry requirements. We encourage all parents and students to do their homework as to what the entry requirements are for the various university facilities, so as to select the correct combination of subjects when making their final subject choices in Grade 10 or GCSE level.

7. Online tutors and student success coaches

Students who opt for the “With Tutor Support” option upon registration, will have access to a panel of online tutors on their dashboards. These tutors can be contacted between 8:00 and 16:30, Monday to Friday and will respond within 15 minutes. Tutors can be consulted for any content related or general questions. This does not include one on one virtual tutoring, but does include assistance via images, videos, additional resources or text explanation. All students can contact a panel of success coaches for any kind of assistance relating to their content or portal.

8. Student forum

The Forum allows students to interact virtually with other students in their grade. Students are able to communicate in real-time, on their portals.

9. Live tutorials by industry experts and lecturers

We’re very excited to launch our new live tutorials in September 2021. FET students will have the opportunity to join a live tutorial for various subjects. A schedule outlining what subject and which lesson will be covered can be viewed on their online calendars.

A successful school-going student should spend at least 2-3 hours a day studying and doing homework.

And they probably would, if things like Fortnite and Facebook and TikTok and YouTube and Candy Crush didn’t keep getting in the way.

We’re not saying this will fix that problem.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

Try out our free two week trial and see for yourself.

A childhood without books

Is like a Chip ‘n Dip without any tomato sauce. It’s still pretty nice, but it’s definitely missing something.

We might be the tiniest bit biased being an entire group of readers but if anything, that just shows you exactly the results that reading can yield.

There’s also the upside of books being completely devoid of in-app purchases – a delightful little black hole into which much of your money can go to if your child knows where to click in Candy Crush or Minecraft.

So really, the only downside is the odd paper cut.

Books are the most amazing and profound learning devices. Not only do they encourage children to think, but they also allow them to step into another world and immerse themselves into that book’s setting.

Often, when children read, you can see their hearts in their eyes as they lovingly take in the stories that they’re reading. Reading is a magical gateway to learning anything about everything.

Children can learn about their interests (and even themselves) through reading things they enjoy.

One of the most wonderful parts of life is that we all – and not just our children – have the power to dive into beautiful books and be transformed. No matter how stressful life can be, we’re offered the gift of finding a quiet space and immersing ourselves into discovering magic in other mystical worlds.

Whether it is a new realm, fighting off dragons or trying to survive in a dystopia, it becomes obvious that reading improves imagination. Your imagination allows us to get transported into the magical world between the pages of a good book. You temporarily get to escape reality while you visit a different place and time. Instead, you visit a world that you’ve imagined for yourself, based on the words you’ve read.

Albert Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and that “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” It’s quite safe to say that Einstein thought that someone who has great imagination also has the ability to create and discover more than the average not so imaginative human.

So how does reading improve the imagination?

The more you read, the better you are able to concentrate and the better you will be able to imagine ideas and new concepts. Our brains need to be kept active in order to stay healthy and reading is a great exercise for the mind. Imagination has many benefits. It encourages creativity, which brings about new ideas. A book in its pure form is just words on a page, and our minds have to do the work, imagining the words coming to life. This does wonders to develop our creativity and imagination. It also plays a huge part in innovation.

Exercising your imagination through reading will also help you to improve your ability to visualise new perspectives.

In a best-case scenario, books expand your mind, allowing you to reach outside your own life and take a look at something different. Stories, be they fiction or nonfiction, provide an opportunity to see through the eyes and perspective of someone else, which might give you a taste of experiences or ideas you would never have explored on your own. In this way, reading books can also help you relate to others on a deeper level.

Think of it this way: explorers learn about the world and all its diversity through experiencing these elements directly. The exploration itself helps broaden the mind, boosting creativity, imagination and changing perspectives forever. It is similar for reading: if you can explore and ‘see’ these new places or imagine what it would feel like, that is your imagination working. We can’t all be proper explorers, but what we can all do is discover new worlds through reading books.

Reading allows us to learn from the life choices of others because we can relate and connect with the protagonists in the books we read. It enables us to learn vicariously through their experiences. Reading even encourages cathartic healing. Again, because we are able to connect to the protagonist in the book, we are able to experience emotional release through the stories we read — and this often leads to the healing of the soul.

Surround your children with books

If your child sees you reading regularly, they’re more likely to build an interest in the activity. Find a book you love and read whenever you get the chance. Children are always watching, and will learn from you. After all, children do as you do more often than they do as you say.

Having a variety of books to choose from is a great way for your child to discover what interests them. Reading something enjoyable will do wonders for their curiosity and reading comprehension. They’ll be skilled, active readers in no time. Reading is important because words are the building blocks of life.

Finally, during these most-certainly uncertain times, it helps to find solace in the simpler things.

And sometimes, that can be as easy as a good book and one big hug made out of couch.

We’ve recommended a list of our all-time favourite books from Grade / Stage R all the way to Grade 12. As far as books go, these are pretty good.

Grade / Stage R

  • Mama and the Missing Shrews
  • The Chocolate Shop
  • Liza and the Sneaky Pie
  • Alphabet Hide and Seek
  • Monster Shout
  • Are You Like Me Story

Grade / Stage 1

  • The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
  • There’s an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer
  • Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
  • The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter
  • There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems

Grade / Stage 2

  • Double Bass Blues by Andrea J. Loney
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beat
  • Charlotte’s Web by E B White
  • If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
  • Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley
  • Could You? Would You? by Trudy White

Grade / Stage 3

  • The Adventures of Paddington by Michael Bond
  • Babe by Dick King Smith
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney
  • The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney
  • Bad to the Bone by Lucy Nolan

Grade / Stage 4

  • Wings of Fire series by Tui T Sutherland
  • Fables by Arnold Lobel
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Grade / Stage 5

  • I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
  • The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
  • Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Grade / Stage 6

  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
  • The Call Of The Wild by Jack London
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Grade / Stage 7

  • New Kid by Jerry Craft
  • A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary D Schmidt
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

Grade / Stage 8

  • Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Hate you Give by Angie Thomas

Grade 9

  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Nothing by Janne Teller
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger

Grade 10 / GCSE

  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Grade 11 / GCSE

  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Grade 12 / AS Level

  • In Darkness by Nick Lake
  • The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • The Rector of Justin by Louis Auchincloss
  • The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Welcome to the future

If it sounds like we’re excited, it’s because we are. And you should be too.

Why you might ask? We’re about to spill the beans.

Cleaning sucks

It’s just one of those facts of life.

Some jobs really are better suited for robots.

Jobs like telling traffic when to stop and when to go, keeping a schedule for load shedding, deciding what nutritious meal to cook for dinner, sitting in traffic –

And cleaning the floor.

The good news is that these things are bound to get better with time, and your child could play an instrumental role in changing things for the better.

Programming helps children learn to problem-solve

Understanding computers and learning the basics of programming helps children to develop an appreciation of how things work. It also teaches them how software engineers use mathematics in order to solve problems in a logical and creative way.

The most important trend in programming for the next decade will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate much of computer programming. AI and machine-based learning can automate coding and help programmers write faster and better code.

Coding develops logical and problem-solving skills in students as well as encourages creative thinking. The world must prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and students should therefore equip themselves with the necessary skills of the future.

Through language, children learn how to communicate. Coding is another type of language which is used in technology to communicate. Language also strengthens both verbal and written skills, which is why it is important that children are exposed to different languages at an early age. This further helps them to make sense of the world around them. Every letter in the coding alphabet has a special formula of 0’s and 1’s which give the technology around us directions on how to perform.  What better way for our children to understand why and how the technology around them operates, than by learning to code themselves.

Why should coding be taught at schools?

Through learning the basic literacy of the digital age, children are able to understand how the technology around them works.

Today’s economy is in urgent need of people with programming skills to meet the demands of the burgeoning tech industry. That’s why introducing your child to coding is a crucial investment in their future, a 21st century skill that’s quickly becoming necessary for a wide range of professions.

Computational thinking

It’s incredibly important for children to learn computational thinking at a young age so they can learn to take a problem, understand it and develop solutions for both humans and computers to solve. One of the benefits of learning computational thinking, the core concepts behind developing code and algorithms, is that it gives students both the tools and the idea that there are many ways to solve a problem, whilst at the same time encouraging curiosity, collaboration and communication.

Not only will learning to code mean solving problems using maths, but it also requires children to think outside the box using those creative skills. Trying to solve difficult problems requires creative solutions, a highly sought-after skill which is often difficult to teach in more traditional classroom subjects.

Coding skills are in high demand

The tech industry is in constant need of new workers, and it’s not just coders or computer science majors — they need graphic designers, software developers, computer engineers, linguists, mathematicians, and more. Tech jobs are not only plentiful, but they’re also lucrative.

Coding fosters creativity and improves mathematical skills

Coding helps children to be able to visualise abstract concepts, lets them apply maths to real-world situations and turns it into a fun and creative process.

Coding improves writing academic performance

Children who learn to code are able to better understand, plan and organise their thoughts.

This in turn, helps them to become confident problem solvers.

As they learn to code and give their projects direction, they also learn that there is no one way to do something, and that should their first way be unsuccessful, they are able to write a new plan, a new code, and try again.

How does coding prepare children for high school and beyond?

Like a foreign language, coding skills are best learned early. Once children are fluent in the type of thinking required to break down and solve computer programming problems, the transition to other more advanced coding languages is relatively straightforward.

One of the biggest obstacles to succeeding in university-level computer science classes is a lack of confidence in tackling difficult, unfamiliar material. Early exposure is the best solution – being introduced to coding and any kind of software development at an early age makes it easier to learn the more technical aspects of computer science in high school and varsity.  In fact, a study by Google and Gallup shows that early exposure is one of the most important ways we can shrink the gender gap in STEM, as it boosts confidence in children, especially young girls, while they’re still interested in technology.

Coding is a lifelong skill

Even if your child wants to do something outside of computer science when they grow up, their coding skills will prove useful across many different fields. Coding teaches problem solving, organisation, maths, storytelling, designing and a whole lot more.

The ability to code transforms children from passive consumers into innovators, with eyes that see every piece of the technology puzzle, not just as a toy but as a way to problem solve and an opportunity to create.

Resilience

Coding and software development can be challenging at times especially when faced with a complex problem. By grasping and understanding the problem using computational thinking, children will learn to come up with creative ways around it if at first they don’t succeed. This is key to teaching children to develop resilience when faced with a challenge and a level of perseverance that will also keep them focused and engaged.

Why is coding vital for our future?

The future generation will hold jobs we can’t even dream up yet – How will those jobs come about? Who will create them? What will happen to the old jobs? Where will those jobs be? Not to worry, these “new” jobs are just an evolution of the way we work and the things we do now.

Learning “how to code” is the buzz phrase we might say for computational thinking.  We are not trying to create a new generation of 100 percent computer programmers but understanding the basics of computer programming, computational thinking and general tech literacy is essential to becoming an active part of our communities and the future workforce.

If we still haven’t managed to convinced you that Coding and Robotics should without a doubt, be one of your child’s subjects, perhaps knowing that your child could be the next Elon Musk for only $45 may do the trick.

Enrol now and you will receive 20% off the cost of the course ($45 $36) by using the code CR20. This offer expires on 28 July 2021.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Every parent dreams of having a happy, resilient child who can navigate through life and remain positive and focused. In fact, learning to be resilient is often overlooked as a key trait to develop during childhood.

We know we cannot make life easier for our children, but we can do our best to give them the tools to thrive.

That’s why we have developed our Mind Power for Kids course. This course teaches children (ages 6 to 12) how their mind works and how they can use this knowledge to be positive, happy, determined, focused and successful.

Taking the course is tremendous fun and you will see the difference in your child.

Mind Power for Kids teaches children to:

  • manage their thoughts to remain positive,
  • use their conscious mind to make healthy decisions,
  • programme their mind for success and eliminate negative belief systems that affect their self-esteem,
  • develop a strong sense of self-confidence to withstand peer pressure and negative influences,
  • focus on possibilities not problems,
  • develop healthy habits, and finally
  • control their emotions so that their emotions don’t control them.

With our children having to deal with an ever-increasing list of real life challenges such as cyber bullying, COVID-19, and the fear of uncertainty, this course is a dream come true for many parents.

You can thank us later!

Learning from home Mondays are quite different to regular Mondays.

They’re a bit like getting into a swimming pool using the steps. The acclimatisation period is longer. The stark contrast between Sunday night and Monday morning is softened.

And if you’re wondering how, we’re here to tell you exactly how you go about studying online, from anywhere, at any time.

First things first, set up a schedule.

Learning schedules and online learning go together like Batman and Robin.

Break the content down into chunks using the Termly Planner given to you under your “Termly Planners and Notices” icon – if you’re the type to get overwhelmed, assign yourself a “chunk” a day.

Discover why you procrastinate — (if you do) — and if you don’t, give yourself a pat for being one step closer to bagging yourself the “student of the year” reward.

A good reward for sticking to your schedule could be to exercise or relax for 15 minutes while you give yourself a well-deserved brain break.

Create a study routine – make it work for you and the task will flow effortlessly. Eventually, even your rewards will seem less exciting as an even better reward will be ticking things off your list.

Be clear as to why you want to do well – make yourself a list and put it up somewhere where you can see it often. This will form part of your motivation. Some examples could be:

  1. I want to learn more and improve myself.
  2. I want to develop the habit of pursuing excellence.
  3. I want to become a more focused and disciplined student.
  4. I want to have a meaningful career.
  5. I want to provide well for myself and my future family.
  6. I want to know that I gave it my best shot.
  7. I want to live with no regrets.

This will come in handy on those days when you’re not feeling motivated.

If you’re a mind map type of person, this is the time to use one in order to gather your information.

Fact: Mind maps mimic how the brain works.

Second fact: Creating mind maps and study notes make you look 40% more intellectual.

Third fact: Gaining a clear understanding of what is on the mind map, can make you 90% more intellectual.

Making a “boring” subject interesting while learning online

When you find it difficult to study because the subject is “boring”, ask yourself:

“Is this subject really boring or does it seem that way because I have closed my mind off to it?”

Ask yourself some interesting questions to kick start your brain:

When was this technique or theory developed?

Who developed it?

What problem did it solve?

How would the world be different today if it wasn’t for this technique?

If you remain curious, nothing gets boring because an open mind leads to endless possibilities and learning. This curiosity should automatically lead to the brain understanding the information and not just memorising it.

This approach is more effective and will keep you motivated.

Look for gaps in your understanding

Meaning?

If you’re unable to explain it, chances are, you don’t understand it. Make it work for you – break it down to suit your understanding.

Study in short bursts

Aka, “spaced learning”.

The theory behind this is that learning involves the creation of memories.

Memories are formed through links between neurons. In order for these memories to become embedded, the neurons have to be left undisturbed for a period of time.

That’s why we learn better in short bursts of online studying. This approach gives the neurons time to store and embed these new memories.

Don’t expect to feel motivated all the time

Strangely enough, one of the best ways to deal with a lack of motivation is to stop expecting to feel motivated all the time.

The fact is that no one feels motivated all the time.

So don’t rely on feeling motivated in order to get the work done.

Sometimes the motivation just won’t be there.

That’s why you need a study routine and study habits, because systems always beat motivation.

Exercise your brain

To get motivated to study, you need to train your brain. Think of your brain as a muscle.

Continuously exercise your brain, even when you’re not studying.

You can do this by reading, thinking through challenging world issues, doing puzzles, or journaling, walking outside, stretching, kicking a ball. The greater the variety of ways in which you train your brain, the stronger and more flexible your brain will become.

Get enough sleep and create a healthy eating plan!

Organise your time

For each subject, make a list of the lessons and tasks that you need to complete in order to be ready for the assessments.

Download a study schedule template if you need one and block out the times you have available each day to study.

As far as possible, choose blocks of time that are the same each day (e.g. 3:30pm to 5:30pm) so that your online school schedule is easy to remember.

Create a daily plan which lists the most important lessons and tasks to be completed for the day.

Review your study schedule at the end of each week.

Assess whether you’re on track to reach your study goals by assessment time. If you’re not, adjust your schedule by finding additional blocks of time for studying. Remember that up until Grade 9, the assessments are self-paced and can be completed online whenever you feel ready to take them.

If working in a group works for you, find a motivated “online study buddy” on the “Forum” to help you and your studies.

Make online learning active, not passive

Passive learning is where you try to absorb information and knowledge. It’s based on the idea that you’re an empty vessel waiting to be filled.

We actually construct knowledge by integrating the new material with what we already know and have already experienced.

So, if you want to learn a new topic quickly and effectively, use as much active learning as you can.

Examples of online active learning are:

  • Finding applications of the new topic in your own life
  • Doing case studies where the new ideas or theories are put into a specific context
  • Reviewing and commenting on the work you have already completed
  • Thinking of ways to apply concepts to problems you come across.

Schedule time for relaxation

This may seem obvious, but when your focus is studying for an upcoming assessment, it’s easy to forget that you need time to relax – therefore, you need to schedule relaxation to recharge and learn better.

Focus on the process, not the result but let the result drive you.

Try to create healthy habits – put your phone in another room, keep a bottle of water with you, have fresh air ventilating your room and get yourself some healthy snacks. Try to avoid having big meals as they tend to make you feel tired and heavy.

Set a timer – this includes a start time and end time but, have the alarm in another room so that you don’t keep checking to see how much time you have left.

Congratulations! You now have a head full of useful, new information and you’re ready to add even more to it.

Mindset is everything, and maybe a nap with some good snacks help too. Give yourself two weeks and your schedule should flow with effortless ease. For optimal results, we highly recommend sitting upright, maintaining a good posture and avoiding your bed or couch – unless of course, it’s below 5 degrees – in which case we highly recommend not leaving your bed or couch at all.

One common grievance home-schooling parents face:

Quick maths and science calculations without having the right scientific calculator on hand or knowledge in mind — best you set aside half the day to teach yourself first and be willing to look through every textbook in your house, and/or search multiple YouTube videos in search of an explanation.

Oh, and good luck keeping your cool throughout the entire ordeal. As the minutes turn into hours, you’ll only become more and more aware that you’re doing all this for only one question that your child needs help with.

It is an unparalleled inconvenience.

And it’s one you can avoid forever by joining an online school and registering your child as an online student instead.

Some people think home-schooling and online schooling is the same thing.

However, online learning means more learning and fun for students and less stress for parents.

To highlight the differences between being a home-schooler and an online student, we’ve made this easy to read story for you below.

Traditional school

Home school

Online school

Building

Teachers

Many students

Official curriculum

Hardcopy or e-books

Guided schedule

Strict time frames

Few teachers

One approach

Home

Parent

One – five siblings

Multiple curriculum

Hardcopy textbooks

Flexible schedule

Flexible time frames

One teacher

One approach

Anywhere

Teachers

Many students

Official curriculum

Virtual textbook

Flexible schedule

Work ahead / move slower

Variety of teachers

Multiple approaches

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mind Power for Kids

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

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

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

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

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

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

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

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.