By Efterpi Sotiriou

‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learnt at school’ (Albert Einstein).

The task of education is widely multi-faceted, extending far above and beyond the narrow parameters of what is taught in the classic exchange of subject information at school.

Educators are commissioned with transmitting and inspiring an all-important value system as a carry-over life-tool. In application, however, the targeted paradigm of the student is a complex one, underpinned with youthful vulnerability, peer pressures, pre-established curriculum-rigid frameworks and parental prescriptions.

Critical questions arise, inter-alia:

  • What subject matter to include in the education journey?
  • Who decides on content, method, assessment?
  • How to dynamize content with life meaning?

Ultimately, the objective of the teacher is irrefutably daunting but privileged in equal measure. Empowering a child to enter ‘the big world’ with knowledge, skill, insight, sensitivity, tolerance, compassion and awareness must remain the objectives of the educator.

When confronted by decisions in their lives, pupils should be able to make informed choices. As educators, we are required to enable pupils to choose commitment and diligence over indifference, the difficult and worthy over the easy. We should empower them to defy mere conformity to robotized assessment expectations and develop their talents to the limits of their personal potential. The gains in self-respect are immeasurable.

We wish them to be proud of themselves, helpful, purposeful, generous-rather than selfish and self-centered. These are the attributes of true education. Its far-flung capacity should be earnestly sought, cultivated and upheld. It’s ‘the only way’.”

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Children are always learning new skills, new ideas and new ways of doing things. Like, discovering how to make TikTok videos upside down, in 2.8 seconds, or, spending four hours doing a YouTube-athon learning how to boil an egg without water, or watching 80% of the internet trying to figure out whether dogs make better pets than cats. In fact, learning something new every day, is the way they develop and become more confident in their knowledge and abilities. But learning something new every day can become challenging for children unless, we, as parents and educators, inspire them to do so.

Helping your child become a better learner is as easy as motivating them and giving them the positive reinforcement they need to learn and grow. With just a little bit of your time and effort, your child can become better prepared for school and the world beyond it. With that said, we defy you to read through these six tips without letting out an audible groan of joy. We’re certain that they’re exactly what’ll set you off on your journey to success as a parent.

Let’s take a look at some ways that you can help your child become a better learner:

1. Identify their learning style

By identifying your child’s specific learning style, you can adapt the way new information is presented to them. Teachers, tutors and parents should work together to ensure that their children get the best education possible, and that sometimes means creating custom tailored lesson plans that suit the needs of the child.

2. Encourage questions

The more questions the better! Encouraging children to ask questions until they understand the ideas or material they are learning, is important for the proper development of their brains. Limiting their curiosity could lead to lower test results and a decreased ability to learn new information.

3. Learn from mistakes

Show your child that it is okay to learn from their mistakes. By letting your child make mistakes, they will have the opportunity to learn from those mistakes and develop better reasoning and problem solving skills as a result.

4. Build their confidence

Praise and motivate your child. Teach them that through hard work and discipline, they can do anything they set their minds to. Encouraging them to try something new and learn from every new experience is a good way to help them become a much better learner.

5. Get enough sleep

While this might seem obvious, the fact is that many children in South Africa and, the rest of the world, don’t get nearly enough sleep for their brains to recover and save memories and new facts from the previous day.

6. Contact Think Digital Academy

To learn more ways to help your child become a better learner and how South Africa’s 4x Award Winning Online School can provide your child with a much better education, reach out to us on WhatsApp, by phone call or mail.

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Kids these days…

They’re almost always indoors. Influencing, and TikTok-ing, and weird internet challenge-ing.

These days, smartphones are the name of the game, and nearly every single child has one. We don’t even need to sing their praises, goodness knows you can probably get them to do that themselves. From scrolling through social media to snapping millions of selfies, if it ain’t a smartphone, teenagers nowadays ain’t interested.

Gone are the good ol’ days when we couldn’t wait to get home, not to do homework or anything – let’s get real – but we just couldn’t wait to get our hands on our parents’ classic Nokia cellphone so that we could spend the afternoon beating our previous score on Snake.

Fast forward a few years later and we had our very own brick of a phone with which to play games, try out polyphonic ringtones and send SMSs JUST long enough to not use up all our airtime and start sending “Please Call Me’s”. Just look how far we’ve come.

We live in the most awesome time in history – the digital age. Google has the answer to every question we can conceive, we never get lost because of GPS and TikTok captures our latest dance moves. But we all know that social media can be a tricky place to navigate, especially as a teenager. With their lives primarily lived online, teenagers are very vulnerable in the digital age and can easily find themselves in hot water if they don’t use the web responsibly. From cyberbullying to copyright infringement, avoiding these pitfalls is essential for staying safe and out of trouble. One innocent mistake can damage your child’s reputation, result in legal costs and even land them in prison. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways you can help protect your child while they use social media.

  1. Set rules and expectations: Make sure your child understands the importance of being safe online. It may seem obvious to you not to share intimate information or photographs on social media, but explain the importance of this to your children. Talk to them about appropriate behaviour, such as not accepting friend requests from people they do not know, sending messages to strangers, and not meeting up with people they don’t know in person.
  2. Monitor activity: Many social media sites allow parents to monitor their child’s activity. Take advantage of these features and keep an eye on what your child is doing online.
  3. Educate yourself: Social media is more than a passing craze, it is a fundamental shift in the way our children communicate. Become familiar with the different social media sites your children use, so you understand how they work and can spot anything suspicious.
  4. Restrict access: Consider setting up restrictions on the devices your children use to access social media. You can also block certain websites and disable certain features. Teach your children that with great power comes great responsibility!
  5. Talk to them: It’s important to have regular conversations with your children about social media use, so they can feel comfortable talking to you if something bothers them or makes them feel uncomfortable online. Talk to them about context, tone and audience so they understand that saying something at a party to a particular audience is very different to posting something on social media where it can be misinterpreted and there is no little control over the audience.
  6. Report any suspicious activity: If you come across anything on your child’s social media accounts that seems inappropriate or dangerous, take action right away. Most sites have ways to report suspicious activity, so make sure to use these features if necessary.

By taking the time to protect your child while they are using social media, you can help ensure that they have a positive and safe experience. Remember – stay smart, stay safe and have fun in the digital age.

*Bonus* – if it feels wrong, don’t do it! That should be your mantra in the digital age. 🙂

Happy surfing!

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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.

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

Conventional schooling has been the norm for centuries. Now, the learning landscape has changed drastically.

Today, online learning is rapidly gaining traction across the globe, especially in South Africa. Online schooling, and online learning allows students to learn from the safety and comfort of their homes and, better yet, allows them to a large extent, work at their own pace too.

While the online learning model offers many benefits on paper, is it just as effective in practice? Let’s find out.

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2022 was a wonderful year. Our students impressed us with their academic and extracurricular accomplishments, their parents continued to provide unrelenting support to their children, and our online school achieved new accolades.

Before jumping into our new academic year, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the previous year. In 2022, we collectively recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilt ourselves. However, we also faced new socioeconomic, political and environmental obstacles.

As we step into 2023, it’s important to keep abreast of ground realities and remain optimistic at the same time. Here’s some collective advice for 2023 from a few of our Student Success Coaches at Think Digital Academy. How can you strengthen your academic performance in the upcoming year? Moreover, what’s the right way to be socially responsible in this critical year?

Keep reading. We’d love to engage in a healthy debate towards the end of the article; please share your thoughts with us!

Understand what’s happening in the world

2022 was a difficult year in many ways and a positive year in others. We faced a wide range of economic, political, environmental and social catastrophes.

At Think Digital Academy (TDA), we encourage our students to understand what’s happening in the world. As Carol Hanisch said, “The personal is political.” Our personal experiences aren’t isolated; they form the fabric of the larger society we live in.

As we understand the economic, political, social and environmental structures of the world, we’re able to take a step outside our circle of privilege and observe critical ground realities. This is extremely important. It helps us take equitable action and advocate for marginalised individuals and communities.

Understand the significance of political movements like the fight against crime, the fight against poverty and, the fight against climate change, economic disparities and other ground realities. This is the first step towards becoming a socially conscious and responsible citizen.

Create a new academic game plan

As you focus on your social growth, make some time for academic development as well. At TDA, our online Education Architects have planned the upcoming year by providing a “Termly Planner” for each Term, and each Grade, that details the lessons you could aim to cover during the academic term, to ensure a smooth, steady transition and consistent academic growth.

It’s time to reflect on your academic performance in the previous year.

Make a list of your accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses, skills and areas of improvement. Discuss the plan with your parents and/or tutors and get their input. Once you have a good grasp of where you stand and what needs to be done differently in 2023, it’s time to get to work!

Create a digital academic game plan. You can also use a physical calendar; however, a digital plan will be easier to edit and track. If you’re an FET, IGCSE or AS Level student, your academic plan should be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound). This will help you systematically achieve your goals and secure top grades. If you’re having trouble creating a plan, feel free to consult your Student Success Coaches.

Make time for personal growth

Your personal growth is extremely important, especially as you step into a new year with a wide range of exciting new opportunities at your feet! Explore your interests, hobbies, pursuits and passions. Participate in competitions like Spelling Bee, Chess, debating, essay writing, and so on. Find a skill you would like to develop and join one of our live, online clubs. We have many to choose from – Art, Anime, Pilates, Yoga, History, Maths, Movement, Drama and many more. With over 15 clubs to choose from, there’s definitely something for everyone – explore at least one of them and develop a new skill.

Personal growth also includes ethical and moral development. Practice empathy, learn the importance of being responsible and treat people with respect and kindness.

Have a check-and-balance system in place

Procrastination and complacency are extremely common among students. You may set impressive new goals for 2023. However, as the year progresses, you may become a little less diligent.

Make sure you have a good check-and-balance system in place. If you become passive and stop checking your goals off the list, hold yourself accountable. You can ask an older friend, family member or tutor to help you out with this.

Consistency will ultimately help you ensure that 2023 is a successful academic year. There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks. However, make sure you don’t lose track of your goals entirely. If you’re looking for more advice for 2023 from your Student Success Coaches, we’re always here to help.

At TDA, we equip our students with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to succeed year in and year out. 2023 is a fresh start! Let’s make the most of it!

Explore the following resources to get started:

As the festive season and school holidays are under way, our students are already well on their way to making memories with their friends and loved ones. While some are on vacation, others might still have weekend getaways, outdoor excursions, sporting activities and other adventures lined up.

We strongly encourage students to spend time with their loved ones over the break. As you enjoy the holidays, make sure you do so productively! What do we mean by this? In this article, we’ll discuss five ways to have a productive break.

1. Reflect on the year and set new goals

As you wave 2022 goodbye and make way for 2023, make sure you take some time to reflect on the year and set new goals. Was your academic performance up to par in 2022? Did you focus on your personal growth? Did you socialise with your friends? What about your extracurricular growth?

Analyse the year from every standpoint to determine whether you had a productive year. We also recommend creating a list of ways you can make 2023 even more productive. How can you improve your academic performance? Should you develop new skills? Our Clubs and Societies are a good place to acquire and learn new skills. Are there certain activities and hobbies you should explore? Do you want to start playing new sports?

Make a comprehensive list of everything that you want to achieve. While it should be thorough, it should also be realistic at the same time.

2. Organise your study space

Does your learning space need some TLC? At Think Digital Academy we encourage our students to pay close attention to their study space. You spend a good chunk of your day working through your online classes from this space. If it’s in disarray, you’ll struggle to have a productive learning experience.

A tidy, clean, minimalist and organised space will help you feel motivated and uplifted. If your study space isn’t up to the par, start a mini makeover! Clean it up, redo the space around your working desk if you have to, add some bursts of colour to the space, and accessorise it. As you breathe life into your study space, you’ll feel more invigorated.

Avoid going overboard. As you accessorise your space, avoid adding gadgets, or any other distractive elements to it. Once you spruce up your study station, you’ll see the difference for yourself.

3. Create a new schedule for the upcoming term

It’s time for a new term! As you enjoy the holiday festivities, take some time to create a schedule for the upcoming term. You should ideally do this before the New Year.

Based on your new lessons and timings, set up a robust schedule that helps you stay on track. Your Termly Planner will help you to break up your lessons into a schedule that works for you. You can opt for a digital calendar or create a physical schedule in a notebook or on a whiteboard in your room.

If you opt for a digital schedule, make sure you sync it across your devices (smartphone, desktop computer, laptop and tablet). This will help you access and edit your schedule whenever you want. It’s the best way to stay on top of everything in 2023!

4. Get an academic head start

You may shudder at the thought of being told to study over the holiday break. No, we won’t ask you to do that. However, we strongly recommend getting a head start.

Go over your curriculum for the upcoming term and review some of the chapters, topics, or subtopics that appear difficult. You can also watch a video or two to head a head start and begin a great term! Get a good grasp of the introductory concepts so you can breeze through the first few lessons.

At Think Digital Academy, we have comprehensive online learning tools. Your learner dashboard includes a wide range of educational resources, including videos, eBooks, past papers, worksheets, lesson activities and so much more.

Utilise these resources to learn the ropes. This little measure will go a long way in helping you feel prepared when working through your recorded lessons. Feel free to jot down any questions if you want. You can ask your online tutors for assistance and get any initial confusion you may have cleared up.

5. Listen to podcasts

If you don’t want to study over the holiday break, you don’t have to! If you want to enjoy your break, you have every right to. You earned it!

To keep productivity intact, listen to educational and motivational podcasts. Here are some great options:

  • Stuff You Should Know
  • Made to Thrive by Steve Stavs
  • TED Talks Daily
  • StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Life Kit
  • History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
  • Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
  • Brain Science
  • Grammar Girl
  • Stuff to Blow Your Mind
  • Startup Nation
  • 60 Seconds Health
  • 60 Seconds Science
  • Astronomy 161
  • The Infinite Monkey Cage

If you’re interested in switching from conventional schooling to online schooling, Think Digital Academy should be your top choice. Established in 2017, our school has been providing a quality online education to students for over 6 years.

We’re excited to have you on board! Let’s start securing a better, brighter future for your children.

Sign up to explore our FREE two week trial.

According to a recent study, the number of students being schooled online has doubled in the last decade. Overall, if current national growth in online schooling continues as many educational experts expect, we could see those figures growing at an accelerated rate over the next 5 years. This has many asking the question, ‘Why do parents choose to home-school or school their children online?”.

To answer that question, the team of online school experts at Think Digital Academy, has put together the top 4 reasons why parents decide to home-school or school their children online. Let’s take a look:

Negative school environment

Sometimes the educational environment our children are exposed to in traditional schools isn’t as positive as we would like. With bullying, unprofessional instructors and negligent headmasters, today’s students face a lot of stress. With online schooling, the learning environment is positive and controlled by the parent.

Higher quality education

Today’s schools are often overcrowded and that can lead to many students not receiving a quality education. Teachers are overloaded with paperwork and they can get burned out very easily. With online schooling, children get a higher quality education because all the lessons are pre-recorded and taught by highly qualified subject matter experts. Parents have more control over what their children are learning and they recognise the valuable skills that their children are taught, which better prepare them for university.

Support a high-performance athlete or learning disabled child

Children with booming sporting or cultural careers, or children with learning disabilities or physical handicaps don’t typically thrive in public schools. Many schools have very limited resources and time when it comes to children with special needs. This makes an online school environment that much more effective for children with learning disabilities or physical handicaps, giving them more opportunities to learn and grow.

Improved social interactions

While many parents believe the myth that children who are schooled online aren’t as socially interactive as students who attend a traditional school, it is just the opposite. Online schooled children develop much more advanced social skills than public school students. Online schooling offers less bullying and peer pressure.

Online schooling improves both the emotional and psychological development of children and strengthens family connections with their siblings. Children gain a greater sense of awareness of the world around them, while developing a stronger sense of civic responsibility.

Contact Think Digital Academy

To learn more about the importance of online schooling and how an independent online school can provide your child with a much better education, contact us on WhatsApp, email or give us a call.

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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 finalising things. There’s no such thing as too much research.

We recommend taking some 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 note.

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 children?

Prioritise experience and faculty expertise. The institution should have at least 5 years of 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 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 that you don’t feel rushed and panicked every day.

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

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

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 your “online campus”. They’ll also discuss common mistakes parents often make during the first few months of the switch. As you get a glimpse 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.

If you have any unique questions or concerns, pop one of our friendly Success Coaches a WhatsApp +27 071 408 4677. Our online support community is very active, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the support you seek.

Another great option for if you recently made the switch and want to find support in your new online community, is to join various Facebook groups. As you interact with other parents, you’ll understand how they navigate the switch in a way that’s effective and efficient for them.

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.

With 6+ years of 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 from home.

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

Explore our FREE two week trial and see for yourself.

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.