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

Is your child happy?

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

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

Read bedtime stories

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

Teach children sharing

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

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

Adopt a family pet

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

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

Family fun time

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

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

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

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

What is ADD/ADHD?

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

How do i know my child has this condition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I treat it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest writer: Kristal Williams

References

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

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

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

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

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

The benefits of participating in extracurricular activities

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

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

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

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

1 – Sports

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

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

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

2 – Martial arts

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

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

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

3 – Dance

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

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

4 – Gymnastics

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

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

5 – Community service

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

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

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

6 – Painting

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

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

7 – STEM Programmes

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

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

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

8 – Horseback riding

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

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

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

9 – Cooking

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

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

10 – Gardening

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

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

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

Choosing and scheduling afterschool activities for your teen

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

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

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

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

Complementing online learning with extracurricular activities

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Kristal Williams

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

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

The VARK Method

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

Visual or Spatial

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

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

Auditory or Aural

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

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

Kinaesthetic or Tactile

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

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

Reading & Writing

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

The benefits of online learning are extensive.

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

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

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

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

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

A strong focus on scheduling and consistency

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

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

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

Success coaching

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

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

Skill-building activities

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

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

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

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

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

According to the British Council, a child’s maximum attention span is roughly two to three times their age. For instance, if your child is 8, their attention span will be anywhere between 16 and 24 minutes. If they’re 9, their attention span will be between 18 and 27 minutes, and so on. The older children get, the more attention they pay.

Unfortunately, young children are at a greater risk of getting distracted. This can negatively impact their schooling experience. If your child frequently zones out in class, they could miss out on a significant portion of their lesson, perhaps even most of it.

Children who aren’t reeled back into the lesson by their teachers struggle to learn as well as their peers. Since they fail to absorb a significant amount of the lesson, they retain less. Consequently, they perform poorly in assessments. They also struggle to participate in class, stay on track during class activities, and achieve consistent academic growth.

If your child has been having trouble with concept recollection, ensure that you address the root problems to help them get back on track. In this article, we’ll offer a closer look at some common reasons why younger students have difficulty retaining concepts in school. Take notes, keep your child’s unique learning traits in mind, and implement the right changes to undo the damage.

Inability to concentrate

As stated earlier, many young students struggle to concentrate in class. This is because of no fault of their own. Young children are in an active developmental and learning stage. They’re immensely curious and eager to learn.

Often, their curiosity compels them to fixate on a number of things within a short time span. For instance, if a child is working on their Math homework, they could easily lose focus and fixate on a superhero figurine placed on their desk. Two minutes later, their attention may divert to a pet that’s chasing an insect nearby or an oddly shaped cloud that’s peeking through the window.

Children are thirsty for newness. It excites them and, most importantly, piques their interest. As they struggle to concentrate in class, children retain less.

As a parent, you can take several measures to ensure that your child gets the most out of their learning journey. We recommend taking a closer look at the mode of learning you’ve chosen for your child. Have you selected conventional in-person, online, or flexible schooling? Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of online and flexible schooling have become more evident.

As children were required to spend over a year-and-a-half attending online school during the pandemic, many parents worried that their personal growth and social development would be affected, and rightfully so. When examined from the surface, online schooling sounds questionable as there’s a lack of in-person interaction. However, once students switch to online learning and acclimatise to it, ample personal growth and social development opportunities become apparent.

At Think Digital Academy, our students are taught by a team of experienced, committed, and passionate MA/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers.

Unfortunately, with most conventional schools, the student-teacher ratio is fairly high. Oftentimes, as many as 30 (or even more) students are taught in one classroom. Needless to say, teachers struggle to provide one-on-one attention to every student. They are unable to help distracted students regain an interest in the lesson; there are simply too many students in a class, with too little time for teachers to manage this task.

The risk of students zoning out during lessons is significantly reduced when the online schooling model is used. As children are taught using a variety of multimedia such as audio, string visuals, videos and interactive quizzes, they are consistently kept on track.

Boring, tedious, and unengaging lessons

As a parent, you may think that something is wrong with your child if they’re struggling to retain concepts learnt in school. This isn’t necessarily true. In many cases, students are unable to effectively absorb and retain knowledge because they’re made to sit through boring, tedious and unengaging lessons. Many schools aren’t focused on making lessons more interactive, stimulating or fun for students.

As highlighted earlier, younger students have a short attention span. If something doesn’t appeal to them, interest them or excite them, they’ll zone out. As a teacher, understanding this is imperative.

At Think Digital Academy, we leverage advanced audio-visual technology to make our online lessons fun, engaging, exciting and appealing for younger students. From incorporating fun activities into lessons to adding interactive quizzes, we have developed our lessons to help students learn better and reduce the chances of students getting bored.

You can take similar measures to help your child perceive their education as something that’s fun, not complex and boring. Once your child completes their lessons for the day, plan fun activities that reinforce the concepts they learned online, in an engaging and stimulating manner. For instance, if they learned about magnets in Science, plan a fun project that excites them. See some inspiration!

Once we’ve covered the theoretical aspect of a certain topic or sub-topic in our online lessons, we follow it up with an activity to ensure that students understand the concept and are able to effectively apply it. This approach increases knowledge retention among students.

Hectic scheduling

Young children are active, enthusiastic, and always ready for a new adventure. However, this doesn’t mean that their schedule should be so hectic that they feel drained, exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of the day. Many conventional schools have this effect on young students. As they shuffle in and out of classes for hours, they’re worn out by the time they return home.

When the brain is deprived of sleep and the body is utilised beyond its capacity, it becomes harder for children to concentrate and remember things, and as a result, it impacts their learning negatively. Children who feel physically and mentally drained by the end of the day are at a greater risk of developing behavioural problems, suffering from poor academic growth and experiencing anxiety. Their alertness levels are also reduced, which results in poor knowledge absorption and retention of information.

If your child performs a task that requires logical reasoning, they’ll struggle to complete it. When their brain development is affected, their neurons will be overworked to the point that optimal or even regular performance cannot be achieved. Children begin to lack in one aspect or another: mentally, emotionally, physically, academically, athletically, personally or socially, etc.

As a parent, take this seriously. If your child feels extremely tired by the end of the day, they’re being overworked. Switching from conventional to online schooling is a great way to undo the damage. Since online schooling is more focused, students aren’t required to sit through protracted lessons. They retain a lot of energy that is otherwise wasted in a conventional schooling environment. This energy can instead be utilised for skill-building games and activities, sports, arts and crafts, excursions, explorations, socialisation and personal enrichment after school. Students can explore new hobbies, interests and activities.

Ensure that your child’s school doesn’t solely focus on academic growth. Holistic learning is imperative for all students, especially young children. Unfortunately, many schools place unhealthy pressure on children, which affects their mental health. A wholesome, balanced, and well-paced online learning environment will help your child understand and recall their lessons better. They’ll also perform exceptionally well in other non-academic facets of their life.

Lack of empathetic guidance and coaching

While students need strong academic support from their teachers, they also need empathetic guidance and coaching from their parents. This is imperative for young students who are still actively developing, learning, and growing. Owing to their age, they’re more vulnerable to everyday stressors and triggers. Children can easily get upset and feel frustrated. If they aren’t provided the support they need, they may act out in class, zone out, or feel neglected.

It’s possible that your child performs exceptionally well in class but still struggles to retain their lessons. In this case, there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Children have memory issues when they feel stressed, don’t get enough sleep, or feel hungry. Think Digital Academy makes use of audio-visual cues, comprehensive study notes, teach concept-related rhymes and songs, break information into smaller bites and build important connections. These are just a handful of strategies that are utilised to boost children’s memory.

By allowing students to re-take lesson quizzes as many times as they need to, we help them perform better and feel more content about their educational journey. Happy learners are successful learners. By helping children feel happy and excited about their lessons, we are able to increase their interest in academics. This, in turn, helps them stay on track and perform exceptionally well.

If you’re considering making the switch to online schooling for your child, take a closer look at our various curricula offered (Grade / Stage R – 12 / AS Levels).

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As a parent of one or more tiny humans, you’ve probably made some very questionable decisions over the years; about their fashion, about their hair-cuts, about their dietary requirements (like feeding them those weird, expired tuckshop toffees or literally anything from McDonald’s) and perhaps even about their education – we all have.

But we’re all a little older and wiser now. And it’s never too late to start making amends.

With just about the whole world going entirely online, why not make sure you’re educating your child at the very best online school around?

Much has been said about online learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic almost two years ago – some of it good, some of it less so. Headlines of online learning creating ‘challenges’ and being a ‘nightmare’ provide contradictions to the general perception of its pivotal role in the future of learning.

Critics focus on perceived issues with the level of interaction and emotional support for students and lack of personalisation and teacher guidance. Done well, online learning can provide a complete school experience with a vast array of benefits. The flexibility of self-paced learning, coupled with a keen sense of self-motivation and discipline and, the potential to learn alongside students from across the globe are just the tip of the iceberg.

Today, we look at some of the most common criticisms of online learning and look at how, with the appropriate strategies and support, these concerns can be eradicated.

Myth 1. Online learning limits levels of individualisation support

Far from lacking individualisation, online learning combines independent study, pre-recorded lessons and tutor / admin support to allow for a truly flexible, personalised education. At Think Digital Academy we provide access to online study materials that help students scaffold to greater depth and knowledge, alongside the implementation of pre-recorded lessons that have been taught by educators who are experts in their subject fields. Central to the success of online learning is engagement with expert teachers. In addition to this, students are empowered to develop individual learning pathways at a pace that suits them.

The parents of our online students are able to be a part of our data-rich environment, analysing student progress data and using it to provide individualised support to coach and motivate their students.

Myth 2: Online learning results in a lack of student participation

When online learning is done well, students receive constant feedback on their progress through instantaneous feedback from their mastery checks and assessments. Our Weekly Activity Reports, that are emailed to parents every Monday, hold students accountable for managing their time effectively. This gives parents and tutors an explicit overview of what the student has completed and how they have performed academically. In this way, everyone is seen and heard, and no one is left behind. Removing the distractions of the physical classroom provides an environment in which a broad range of students can thrive.

Myth 3: There is insufficient social, moral and cultural development in online learning

Independent learning does not mean learning alone. At Think Digital Academy, students can chat to other students online from all around the globe, through their Online Chat Forum. They can cultivate their own passions outside of academia, develop new and healthy interests and build relationships. Online learning allows students to work alongside peers from across the globe, broadening their understanding of different cultures and building an international network of friends.

Myth 4: Lack of self-discipline impacts the success of online learning

Online learning allow students to build their own unique schedules, allowing them to balance academics with other commitments such as sporting or cultural activities. With the correct support in place, students develop invaluable skills including time-management and self-discipline, critical thinking and strategic planning ahead of university and future careers.

Collectively, our success coaches and online tutors work together to produce the careful guidance needed to develop effective, independent students.

Myth 5: Online learning limits outcomes and academic potential

Think Digital Academy is a two-time award winning online school that combines the ethos and academic excellence of traditional private schools. Just as with in-person learning, we work hard to support the university aspirations and career ambitions of every one of our students and ensure they achieve their very highest potential.

Their online curricula and an array of additional tasks and activities provide students with the experience, extension work, lateral thinking and essential problem-solving skills required for success.

Myth 6: Online learning means parents have to teach and ‘babysit’ students

Far from having to home-school or monitor children on a daily basis, online learning can provide parents, tutors and carers with unprecedented visibility into their children’s education, with real time access to their performance, grades and time spent learning.

The formation of Think Digital Academy predates the pandemic and was inspired by a desire to expand access to high quality education to students all around the globe. Our educational programmes are specifically designed to make the most of the innate benefits of online learning, equipping our parents and tutors to bring out the best in every learner.

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

Interview with Isabel Sharman, AS Level Parent to Antonio Sharman

Why did you choose Think Digital Academy?

I was looking for an online school that was accredited, where my son would be able to obtain a report that would be recognised by other schools and universities. I started to look into Think Digital Academy, just from seeing the name of the school from some parent groups on Facebook, as one of the most recommended online schools. It partnered with our thoughts about a UK system being better for Antonio than an SA based school system, because of his aspirations to go to an international university. In addition to that, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic, so everybody was doing online anyway. We wanted a school that had researched how to do online teaching, not just put it on Zoom and continue as most schools were doing.

Those three aspects together made us consider exploring the online option. After that, we really left it up to him. He made the final decision.

What do you like most about Think Digital Academy?

I was completely surprised with the level of customer service and care from the Student Success Coaches as well as the high quality of the online lessons. The weekly activity reports sent directly to the parents on Monday mornings also made it easier for me as a mom, to keep track of what Antonio was doing during his school day. It was a nice surprise to see how Antonio had taken advantage of the time he had to successfully complete all his lessons independently.

How would you say an online school differs from a traditional school?

You save a lot of time. I don’t have to drive anywhere.

I think online is great because it’s going to prepare him better for university. He has to figure out how to schedule his own time. How to get things done, when to get them done, how to be disciplined enough to get it done as there’s not somebody every day checking it. I think it will prepare him better for his life in general; Think Digital has made a significant impact on him being a whole student, and not just an AS level student.

Although there aren’t any of the regular social interactions, you are still able to plan social activities outside of the online learning environment. We signed Antonio up for a sports team at a club. You simply find activities that your children enjoy and sign up for them yourselves.

Is online learning as good as face-to-face learning?

I will tell you a quote from Antonio – he felt like he was in class. Just without the distractions.

There were absolutely zero obstacles to learning. He enjoyed working at his own pace and really enjoyed the fact that he could re-watch lessons as many times as he needed to before feeling confident enough to move on to the next concept.

How much involvement is needed as a parent?

I have found that anytime I needed anything from Think Digital, I was always assisted very quickly. The Student Success Coaches were a huge help too – I never felt like I didn’t have an answer or that I was navigating this new online journey without any support.

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

Distanced learning needn’t mean disconnection. In fact, Online Thinkers report that they experience quite the opposite: all are part of the Think Digital community and connect socially to share ideas, conversations and culture across the globe.

We recommend that students open themselves to the possibilities of remote learning at the outset:

  • Make time to participate in social experiences outside of school
  • Test their capabilities with the support of our highly-trained online tutors
  • Build lasting friendships with like-minded students all over the world
  • Hone their confidence for a highly-connected future beyond school
  • Participate in any educational opportunity (such as our live tutorials) that appeals to them

While self-led organisation is a vital skill for each Online Thinker, learning how to form close connections is also crucial. They may be geographically divided, but students in our person-centric school come together on their online Forums as well as our online tutorials. Supported by cutting-edge systems that facilitate interactivity, lifelong bonds of friendship can be quickly forged – and enabled to thrive.

Our online tutorial teachers and tutors lead personal interactions through learning portals, creating space for lively group participation. Within the virtual classroom, participation is open to every student.

The set-up is brilliant training for what’s to come at university and beyond: a carefully tailored mix of one-to-one interactions, collective debates and autonomous expression, with quiet time for them to progress through coursework at a pace appropriate to them.

Our offering also boasts some additional online courses. Whether students are curious about coding, or gearing up to conquer the world through enhancing their Mind Power for kids and teens, they have the option of completing a course that appeals to them. And, for anyone who feels the itch to establish a new online social club, there is full support from staff to take the initiative.

At this watershed moment in time, online schools have an unprecedented power to match our fast-paced world of international living, showing students how to expand their networks across the globe while also making exceptional educational progress in their studies. Modelling flexibility, cross-cultural links, dynamism and social skills, Think Digital Academy provides the step-up they need to start building the brightest of futures.

Free trial

To make your choice even easier, why not enrol for our free 14 day trial to explore our e-learning environment.

Making the transition to an online school can be overwhelming and a daunting experience for some children (and their families), if they are not physically or emotionally ready to conform to the expectations placed upon them. Yes, they may be able to count to 20, write their name and even recognise a few words, but how does this prepare them for the reality that is entering the schooling system, and all that that brings? So many physical and emotional skills and attributes are needed as a foundation to being truly ready to learn.

What is online school readiness?

School readiness refers to whether a child is ready to make an easy and successful transition into school. The term ‘preschool readiness’ might be used in the same manner in reference to starting preschool. School readiness can be actively facilitated with a little forward planning to ensure that children regularly participate in activities that develop the appropriate skills required to help optimal learning when they start online schooling. While many people think of academics (e.g. writing their name, counting to ten, knowing the colours) as the important school readiness skills, school readiness actually refers to a much broader range of skills. In addition to some academic basics, school readiness skills also include self-care (independent toileting and opening lunch boxes), attention and concentration, physical skills (e.g. having the endurance to sit upright for an entire school day), emotional regulation, language skills and play and social skills.

According to an educational journal published in Australia, published by Dr Ursula Walton, Head of an Early Years Development School; vital skills for ‘online school readiness’ include:

  • Resilience, self-esteem and self-regulation, in order that the emotional challenges and frustrations that arise can be managed in a calm and rational way, so that the child is confident that even when things go wrong, they can work it out. Children need to be aware of when they are feeling stressed and learn the techniques to manage this. Self-regulation will lay the foundations for online school readiness.
  • Self-awareness, self-care skills are required in order for them to be able to look after their physical and emotional needs; children need to be able to identify when something is not right, what they might do about it and how they can ask their parents / guardians or tutors for help.
  • Good listening and communication skills, to help them process what they are being asked to do and knowing when to ask for help.
  • A strong physical core and spatial awareness so they can sit with a good posture and hold their heads up to listen to the recorded teacher; look at the online lesson and navigate their new online platform.
  • A healthy body and good physical skills in order that they can feel comfortable throughout the day, take part in private sport and cultural activities with confidence and get themselves dressed and undressed as needed.
  • Prosocial skills such as empathy, cooperation, respect and kindness will help children to see the world beyond themselves and understand that the experience of others is often different and that’s fine; helping others doesn’t take something away from them but will make them feel good.
  • Ability to be inquisitive, recognise risks, problem solve, speak up and challenge what is not right – even in an online environment.

It goes without saying that we are not suggesting children will have mastered these skills by the time they start their first online class; these skills will need to be built upon and developed throughout their formative years. However, the pressure on schools to demonstrate progress in mathematics, literacy, communication and language through the Baseline Assessment sends the message to parents and many teachers / tutors that these areas of learning need to be the priority.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and pandemic, a mental health epidemic and a climate where many people are fearful of others who appear different from them, we want to ensure this is not the experience our children have as they become young adults. This requires a focus on children’s health and wellbeing as the priority, rather than formal assessments. To achieve this, we must ensure that children have plentiful opportunities to be active, get fresh air and spend time in natural environments. We need to enable them to celebrate diversity, build their confidence through experiencing the arts and being creative, alongside other students and adults who understand and care about them. Children should be encouraged to read, write and know how to count in order to have the best opportunities as adults, but we believe that all these things and more will arise when the priority is placed on the children’s physical, emotional and neurological wellbeing as an indicator that they are ready for any type of school – online or the traditional brick and mortar.

Why are school readiness skills important?

The development of online school readiness skills allows tutors and parents to expand and further develop a child’s skills in the specific areas of social interaction, play, language, emotional development, physical skills, literacy and fine motor skills. Without these basic skills already established upon entry to online school, children can very quickly find themselves playing ‘catch up’ compared to their peers that are advancing more quickly. Students that begin school with the build block (or foundation) skills in place advance quickly as opposed to those that start school only to then begin the slow process of developing school readiness.

What are the building blocks necessary to develop school readiness?

  • Self-regulation: The ability to obtain, maintain and change emotion, behaviour, attention and activity level appropriate for a task or situation.
  • Sensory processing: Accurate processing of sensory stimulation in the environment as well as in one’s own body that influences attention and learning that effects how you sit, hold a pencil and listen to the online lesson.
  • Receptive language (understanding): Comprehension of spoken language (e.g. the online teacher’s instructions).
  • Expressive language (using language): Producing speech or language that can be understood by others (e.g. talking to friends).
  • Articulation: The ability to clearly pronounce individual sounds in words.
  • Executive functioning: Higher order reasoning and thinking skills (e.g. What do I need to successfully complete the task that has been given to me?).
  • Emotional development/regulation: The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and regulate emotions (for a child’s own responses to challenges).
  • Social skills: Determined by the ability to engage in reciprocal interaction with others online or physically (either verbally or non-verbally), to compromise with others and to be able to recognise and follow social norms.
  • Planning and sequencing: The sequential multi-step task/activity performance to achieve a well-defined result (e.g. a cut and paste task or a simple maths activity).

If left untreated what can difficulties with online school readiness lead to?

When children have difficulties with online school readiness, they might also have difficulty with:

  • Disliking school, learning and sometimes even the teacher who is the bearer of the school demands (in traditional brick and mortar schools).
  • Accessing the curriculum being instructed because the building block (foundation) skills are not yet developed sufficiently to allow task performance.
  • Peer rejection and social isolation where children feel overwhelmed or socially uncomfortable.
  • Following instructions from others in a position of authority at school (e.g. online success coaches/tutors).
  • Poor academic outcomes as the child may be in a negative state that is not conducive to learning.
  • Not only might the child become stressed and anxious as they realise their limitations, but as a result, so may their parents and/or tutors.

What type of therapy is recommended for online school readiness difficulties?

If your child has difficulties with online school readiness, it is recommended that an Occupational Therapist, Educational Psychologist and/or a Speech Therapist is consulted to address the functional areas of concern.

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To make your choice even easier, why not enrol for our free 14 day trial to explore our e-learning environment.

Festive. Season. Shopping. Malls.

If that phrase doesn’t bring back trauma and stress memories, you’re either lying to yourself or the true horror has worn off a little faster than usual after a quieter-than-normal festive season last year.

So: let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

Think crowds obliviously crab-walking. Scary-pushy perfume reps. The deafening racket of Christmas carols and screamy wrinkly turnip babies.

Is it really worth enduring all of that for a few stocking fillers?

Why not get creative and make something to fill your socks instead.

Most children love expressing their creativity at Christmas. From crafting and colouring, to dancing and listening to Christmas tunes; the amount of ways to be creative over the holidays, are endless.

But, why should only children have all the fun?

According to a private healthcare company, Bupa, “it turns out that children are not the only ones who need a creative outlet to explore their imagination. A report from the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG) suggests that having a creative hobby can actually benefit our mental and emotional health.”

If you’re a tired teacher, weary parent or exhausted employee, your first instinct over Christmas may be to do as little as possible. And, of course rest is always beneficial and necessary, especially after a busy and stressful year.

But, by engaging in creative pursuits, you can actually rest your mind, boost your mood and improve your mental health.

How creativity can improve wellbeing

According to an article by Forbes, getting totally absorbed in a creative task “reduces anxiety, boosts your mood, and even slows your heart rate. Repetitive creative motions like knitting, drawing, or writing help activate flow, and are all tasks that create a result.

And when you succeed at creating a result, no matter what it is, your brain is flooded with dopamine, that feel-good chemical that actually helps motivate you. Whether or not you’re aware of your increased happiness, the hit of dopamine you get after being in flow will drive and influence you toward similar behaviour.”

So, whatever it means to you, we’d encourage you to embrace your creativity at Christmas!

How to get creative at Christmas

There are many ways to get creative at Christmas. Simple actions like drawing, knitting, colouring, writing and listening to music are all a great place to start.

Or, you could take a look at creative Christmas events in your local area.

  • Wander along a Christmas light trail
  • Attend an outdoor Christmas event
  • Find a local craft fair or art show
  • Visit a Christmas market
  • Watch a Christmas choir or vocal concert
  • Enjoy a local Christmas carol service

Creativity at home

Don’t fancy heading out? There are plenty of ways to get creative at home. We’re blessed to live in a digital age, with a plethora of online events that you can live stream or watch in the comfort of your own home.

Even watching a film is a way to engage in creativity!

You could cook a lovely meal, do some baking with the kids or friends or even order a paint by numbers kit to brush away outside, under a tree on Sunday afternoons.

Caring at Christmas

Sustainability is at the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment. So, why not combine creativity with sustainability and hand make your Christmas gifts this year?

You could forage for cones and leaves in your local park to enhance your gift wrapping. Or, encourage your kids to make Christmas cards to send to family, friends and neighbours.

Many young people don’t have the opportunity to engage in creativity at Christmas, or at any time of the year. You could even compile your own “creative kit” and donate it to disadvantaged young people.

Share your creativity

Would you like to share your creativity with others? You may even inspire them to follow suit!

Tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with your #TDACreativeChristmas posts!

Here are a few #TDACreativeChristmas ideas:

  • Christmas cookie and gingerbread home decorating
  • Handmade Christmas cards
  • Homemade Christmas decorations
  • Personally made Creative Kits to hand out to disadvantaged young people
  • Holiday scene watercolour paintings
  • Pencil drawings
  • Serve festive snacks and try out new recipes
  • Handmade Christmas gifts such as jewellery, knitted items, candles, recipe book, photo frames, coasters, snow globes, etc.

From your Think Digital Academy team, we wish you a very merry, and creative, festive season!

With more parents increasingly making the switch from conventional schooling to online schooling for their children, we’re observing a massive transformation in the education sector across the globe, especially in South Africa. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning is becoming increasingly popular among students of all ages. By sending their children to a reputable online school, parents can tick many boxes — for example, safety, mental health, knowledge absorption and retention, flexibility, a healthy school-life routine, etc.

If you’re considering making the switch to an online school for your child, make sure you select the right education institution. Presently, parents have the option of choosing between many online schools in South Africa. Instead of taking a day or two to decide, we recommend digging deeper, doing extensive research, and shortlisting the best online schools for your child. This process is imperative. If you fail to do your research, you may end up selecting an education institution that isn’t right for your child. As a parent, you shouldn’t compromise on your child’s education under any circumstances.

We recommend browsing through reviews, consulting current parents with children attending the institution, staff of the institution, requesting more insight from academics you may know and making your own checklist. As you take the time to gather more knowledge, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that helps your child receive a quality education, secure top grades, become a curious and critical thinker and progress exceptionally well at school.

In this blog, we’ll help you create your own checklist. We’ll walk you through the critical questions you should keep in mind as you navigate the online school selection and finalisation process. Take notes or bookmark this blog so that you can keep referring to it as you search for the right online school for your child.

1. Is the student-teacher ratio low?

As a parent, make sure you look for an online school that has a low student-teacher ratio. If this ratio is high, your child will be taught in a group of 15+ students. Unfortunately, many online schools have an astonishingly high student-teacher ratio (15:1, 20:1, 25:1, or even 30:1).

At Think Digital Academy, we have resolved this problem by having the lessons pre-recorded and accessible at any time. In this way, the student need not rely on a certain time to participate or join in on a lesson, they are able to access all their lessons at any time. This also allows students to work at their own pace, and maximise their engagement and interactivity. This approach enables us to provide the best teaching methodologies, taught by subject matter experts, at all times. Students are then able to customise their learning schedules according to their unique learning habits.

Should students need some guidance with their school work or their schedule, our Student Success Coaches work assiduously and are ready and able to provide the customised guidance and support they need. Our Weekly Activity Reports, which are emailed to parents and tutors weekly, enable parents and tutors to track and closely monitor each student’s participation and engagement on our system.

They can immediately identify students who are losing focus and encourage them back into their learning routine if need be.

This strategy goes a long way in helping students learn actively, attentively, and retentively. As a result, they perform better on their tests and secure top results.

There’s little to no risk of the student falling behind in their lessons. Whether they’re struggling to understand certain concepts or simply zoning out, our Weekly Activity Reports expertly provide the individualised data they need to get back on track.

2. How qualified are the teachers?

As a parent, ensure you look into the qualifications of the teachers at your chosen education institution.

Your children shouldn’t be trusted with just anyone. Their online teachers should be experienced, qualified, trained, empathetic, passionate about teaching, as well as adept at teaching. At Think Digital Academy, our Master’s (MA) / Doctorate (PhD) degree, Head of Department (HoD) qualified subject specialist teachers have worked with dedication and great care to provide a high quality education to all our students. They have extensive experience in teaching and have meticulously mastered the “art of teaching” over the years.

We have a rigorous faculty recruitment process in place. Each prospective teacher is interviewed by a team of education specialists, senior teachers, academics and learning experts. We also request the shortlisted teachers to demonstrate their teaching skills, so we can determine whether they’re the right fit for our online school. By hiring the most experienced and accomplished MA/PhD/HoD qualified subject specialist teachers, we ensure that all our students are in excellent hands and are being taught by the best teachers.

3. Do they have a well-rounded, certified curriculum?

Today, many online schools follow the national curriculum, which is subject to political turbulence. In essence, it doesn’t provide children with the comprehensive education they need to grow academically and secure top results.

As you look for the right online school for your child, ensure that you select an education institution that offers a well-rounded, independent curriculum. At Think Digital Academy, our curriculum comprises the best aspects of the national curriculum as well as new facets that help children achieve an academic edge. By introducing additional elements, we make up for the gaps in the national curriculum by providing additional resources.

Think Digital Academy offers three different curricula. They are the South African CAPS curriculum which prepares children for the NSC examination, the British International curriculum which prepares students for the external Cambridge International Examinations and the American GED curriculum which prepares students for the GED exams.

4. How do they keep children engaged in the lessons?

When making the switch from conventional schooling to online schooling, parents often worry that their children will struggle to remain focused and disciplined enough to see their academic year though. This is a justified fear.

At Think Digital Academy, we have a meticulous system in place to eliminate the risk of students potentially getting distracted, zoning out or simply not completing their prescribed lessons and/or tasks. Our teachers are provided with extensive training prior to recording their lessons to keep students engrossed in their lessons. We equip them with the insights, tips and improvisation techniques they need to know in order to help the students stay focused, attentive and immersed in the lessons.

We understand that students can easily get distracted and veer off track, especially younger children with shorter attention spans, which is why we’ve included videos, sound tracks, strong visuals and interactive quizzes to keep our students interested and engaged.

5. How much experience do they have?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a plethora of new online schools have been set up. Unfortunately, many of these institutions have been established with the intention of “jumping on the online schooling bandwagon.” In other words, they don’t provide the quality of education parents are looking for.

If you’re considering sending your child to a reputable online school, select an institution that had been set up long before the pandemic started. This is a great way to ensure that your chosen online school isn’t “following a trend” but actually has an exceptional track record and extensive experience. And, had begun the education journey with the right intentions.

Established in January 2017, Think Digital Academy has five years of experience and counting. We’re one of the pioneers of online schooling in South Africa, as we were South Africa’s first online school. Our experience has enabled us to improve the quality of education we provide. Think Digital Academy is proud to include that we have won the prestigious award of “Best Online School in South Africa” for two years in a row. It’s no secret that we’re South Africa’s favourite online school.

Over the years, we’ve built a strong faculty and perfected our curriculum, which is further updated and improved upon based on new requirements. Today, we’re trusted by thousands of parents across the globe, not just in South Africa.

6. Will my child be able to enjoy a balanced school-life schedule?

Among the many benefits online schooling has to offer, a healthy and balanced school-life schedule stands out. Unfortunately, this isn’t a given. Many online schools are strictly focused on academic growth, which ends up affecting children’s personal growth and social development. At Think Digital Academy, we have a razor-sharp focus on academics. However, we also take other aspects of your child’s learning journey into account. By allowing a self-paced but guided curriculum, it allows you as a parent to ensure that your child has sufficient time to explore their hobbies, engage in sports, play skill-building games, socialise with their friends, embark on new adventures, discover their passions and interests and partake in character-building activities. We encourage all our students to join private sporting and cultural clubs.

We structure our lessons in a way that students get the opportunity to learn at their own pace, and still follow a guideline of what to complete within one academic year, which enables them to grow and evolve academically. As a parent, you can easily create a schedule that helps your child reap the benefits of a balanced and enriching school-life schedule. Ultimately, this approach improves student mental health and prevents burnout in children.

7. Can my child receive a higher education at the same institution?

Many online schools exclusively teach younger students, not older students. Avoid selecting such an institution. The transition from conventional school to online school is undoubtedly difficult, but the transition from one online school to another online school is just as challenging. As you switch schools multiple times, your child will have to start over again and again, which can take a toll on them.

We recommend selecting an online school that provides a quality education across multiple grades. This is a great way to help your child progress from one academic stage to another without being forced to switch schools.

At Think Digital Academy, we provide a quality education across two curricula; South African and British for Grades R – 12 and Stages R – AS Levels. The CAPS curriculum is also available in Afrikaans for Afrikaans Home Language speakers.

If you enrol your child in Pre School at the age of 6, you can rest assured that they can progress to Primary, Intermediate and High School in the same institution. In other words, you can reduce the risk of upheaval by providing your child a consistent education between the ages of 8 and 18.

8. Do they offer quality online educational resources?

As you continue to dig deeper, we recommend checking whether the online schools you’ve shortlisted offer quality online educational resources. At Think Digital Academy, we provide a vast online library of resources, including educational study notes, past papers for Grades 10-12 and IGCSE / AS levels, memos and worksheets. As a parent, you can make the most of these resources by going over them with your child to help them revise towards the end of the term.

9. Do they prioritise mental health among children?

Student mental health is extremely important. It shouldn’t be disregarded or shoved under the rug. Our Student Success Coaches and Online Tutors, are understanding of various situations and provide individualised support and guidance to each student.

We offer support to ensure each child becomes a happy and successful achiever. By prioritising their mental health, we help children feel good about their learning experience.

Free trial

To make your choice even easier, why not enrol for our free 14 day trial to explore our e-learning environment.

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.