Zulu is the most widely spoken black language in South Africa. It is rich in culture, expressions, comparisons and interpretations.

So why don’t we learn the language so we can better communicate with Zulu speakers around us? Besides it being a sign of respect to speak a person’s language, there is nothing more rewarding than to see the response you get from Zulu speakers who recognize that you can and are trying to speak their language. 

A parent’s influence is important. Children learn by example. If we want our children to learn a language, we need to make more effort to do so ourselves.  It’s never too late to learn. Learn together. Practice speaking alongside your children. Children will be encouraged to speak if they see you trying to converse with Zulu speakers, even if it’s only by way of simple greetings. There will be many willing helpers to correct and encourage you along the way. Remember practice makes perfect.

Help at Hand offers a range of beginner friendly material aimed at teaching communicative Zulu, irrespective of whether you are adult or child.  There are 8 simple, child-friendly readers which introduce the basics of communicating in Zulu. Master the vocabulary and simple sentence structures in them and you have the tools to start a conversation with people you meet every day. Have a look at the range in our shop right here – click this link

Make a start. It will go a long way.

Factors of school success

THE 4 CRUCIAL FACTORS OF SCHOOL SUCCESS – AND HOW TO FOSTER THEM

The best learners have 4 key qualities under their belts. And of course, while all children have different temperaments, if we do our best to foster these traits we will be helping put in place the very bedrock of success.  They are:

• A positive attitude

• Persistence

• Resilience

• Good motivation

A positive attitude: these are the children who set off for school in the morning believing they are going to have a great day, learn something interesting, and enjoy being with their friends. This attitude towards school stems from a positive attitude they have learned at home, so as parents we need to practice talking to our children in positive ways.  We need to: praise them for their achievements, praise them for trying, and encourage them to see themselves as good and capable people.

Persistence: We need to foster grit and “stickability” in our children by making it clear that mistakes are a normal part of learning and that persistence pays off.  Let them see that we often have to try and try again to get something right.  Praise them when they keep on trying, and if something is really going badly for them, help them deal with their frustration by thinking about ways of doing it differently, or taking a break and then re-visiting it.

Resilience: Life isn’t always easy, friendly and pleasant.  Much as we ache to protect our children from all things unpleasant, we aren’t going to be able to.  What matters is not the setback-but how robustly children are able to deal with it.  We need to build up our children’s confidence so that small blows won’t knock them off their perch, and help them come to understand how difficult situations can arise.  We need to tell them mistakes are an essential part of learning, and talk to them about how the world is made up of all kinds of people, who behave in different kinds of ways, and that problems that result from this are not always their fault.  We need to show them how to look for ways to make a difficult situation better, and how, if nothing works, to learn to let go of the situation and move on with their lives.

Good motivation: Children learn best when they understand why they are doing something, and can see a good reason for mastering it.  Motivation takes time to root and grow in younger children, but it pays enormous dividends later.  Foster it by encouraging them to learn because it is fun and enjoyable, because it helps them to do and understand new things, and because it gives them a new feeling about themselves and their abilities.  That way, as they get older they will come to know how to work for themselves and their own goals, and not just to please other people.

FELICITY TONKINSON – Educational Psychologist

Offices in Umhlanga and Ballito,

Ph: 082-4872674 or 031-5612789

What is Mind Moves? Part 1

HOW?  Learning is an active process that requires a fully developed and integrated brain, sensory, nerve and muscle system. Many children find learning challenging or are not living up to their potential. By the time some children reach high school they may have made incorrect assumptions about their academic ability which adversely affects their confidence and sense of competence and worth. Nerves link the senses, brain and muscles to one another, literally forming connecting pathways. Problems arise when certain of these pathways are immature and haven`t formed adequately. This results in the brain and muscles not working together properly and subsequently behaviour becomes affected, resulting in labels like  `poor or slow handwriting’, `speech difficulties’, `ADD, ADHD’, ‘tactile defensiveness’, ‘clumsy’ and ‘low muscle tone’ to name but a few.

The following SOS signals may indicate that a learner is not coping and where they may need help:

• Physical SOS: Clumsy, low muscle tone, poor concentration, cannot sit still, battle to concentrate, dislike physical games and sport, can`t tell left from right, problems with balance, eye-hand coordination, crossing the midline, slow task completion and often complains of a sore tummy before school.

• Emotional SOS: Overly emotional, bite nails, chew clothes, towels or hair, poor impulse control, constantly need reassurance, does not accept NO.

• Social SOS: Can`t wait or share, battles to make friends of own age, clown/ bully/victim, emotional outbursts, poor self-regulation and impulse control.

• Intellectual SOS: Poor language development, avoids school and school work, would rather play or watch TV than work, problems with perception, letter recognition and formation, spelling, reading, maths, memory, concentration and task completion.

Research in Neural developmental has advanced substantially in the last few years and has supplied us with a greater understanding of the underlying causes of learning and behaviour problems.

WHAT? A whole new approach to learning and behavioural problems has opened up.

Mind Moves builds the really important neurological foundations to support development of skills through working with the primitive reflexes –these form part of the most basic wiring in the brain and of the entire body. If faulty, the higher part of the brain that deals with more cognitive skills like reading writing, comprehension, memory, etc. is not the priority when the brain needs to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore. When a primitive reflex is still active it means the first priority of the brain is to pay attention to movement, posture, pencil grip, eye movements, etc.

WHERE? A Mind Moves Reflex Assessment would reveal if there are any aberrant reflexes or the Mind Dynamix Profile (MDP) would give insight into learning style and preference to ensure every child maximises his or her potential.

Based on the results, a home programme of Mind Moves is prescribed. These are fun movements that are specifically designed to repair and strengthen those pathways, resulting in improved behaviour and learning. They basically rewire the communication network between the senses, brain and muscles, thereby enabling effective learning to take place.  It`s a drug free alternative! 

When the brain is ready, learning is easy.

Mind Moves® has been accredited by the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and the HPCSA

Unleashing creativity in our children

We live at a time where creative, original thinking is dangerously low. And yet we need exactly this thinking to solve our individual, community, organisational and global challenges and create a sustainable future.” – Tania de Jong (award-winning social entrepreneur)

Based on this insight, one could argue that creativity needs to be nurtured and encouraged in young children in order for them to become the ‘thought pioneers’ of tomorrow. Creative thinkers of the future may be the solution to many of the problems we face in our world today.

Every child has the potential to be creative and therefore the school curriculum needs to provide opportunities to enhance creativity. Schools need to encourage experimentation. Children need to be brave and take risks. Children need to understand that it is okay to fail, as it opens the window to opportunity.  In the lower grades, we need to focus more on process and less on results.

How do we achieve this?

Children need time and space to explore their creative talent. The school curriculum should embrace this exploration, allowing for a “Creative Space” for learning. Baking, science experiments, box construction and problem solving exercises are some of the activities that happen in these creative spaces.

However, this exciting journey of imagination, originality and resourcefulness can and should begin at home and are vital elements of a child’s educational journey. We, as parents and educators need to make time to explore creative activities with our children.

The Result?

Creative children – who are flexible, adapt more easily to change and have the ability to turn challenges into opportunities.  I am sure you will agree that we want this for our children, so that they become the best version of themselves and thereby make a difference in our world?

Carol-Anne Conradie – Head of Junior Primary at

Durban Girls’ College

Benefits of learning a second language

Early literature on bilingualism raised concerns that learning more than one language could confuse children.  The more recent literature, however, suggests that bilingualism holds significant socio-cognitive advantages for our children.

COGNITIVE BENEFITS:

• Increases mental flexibility.

• Develops a strong working memory.

• Ability to multi-task.

• Delayed loss of mental ability in later life.

• Delayed onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in later years.

• Able to focus attention and cope with distractions – learners switch between two language systems, keeping the brain active and flexible (Zelasko and Antunez, 2000).

• Higher level of abstract thinking – promoted by reading and writing in two languages (Diaz, 1985).

• Improved “executive function”– we use it for planning, solving problems and performing mentally demanding tasks.

• Ability to switch wilfully from one task to another.

• More thorough comprehension of how language works.

• Essentially, being bilingual is like giving your brain muscles a “workout”.  Speaking two languages forces the brain to resolve internal conflict and

gives the mind a work-out that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

SOCIAL BENEFITS:

• Enables children to make new friends and create strong relationships, which is important in our ever increasingly diverse society

• Improves listening skills and boosts creativity.

• Exposes children to diverse customs and ideas and enables them to develop relationships with people that would otherwise have been prevented due to language barriers.

Research suggests that the earlier in life a child is exposed to a second language, the easier it is for the child to learn that language. Monika Schmid, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Essex, indicates that access to language is a crucial factor in the acquisition of that language.  Therefore, the more a child engages with a new language, the more proficient they will become.

Loryn Smith Lourens

[BSportScience; Honors Biokinetics;

PGCE (FET)]; Grade 4 Educator: Durban North College

Maths is a language

Mastering mathematical concepts from a young age is like learning a language. It is vitally important for children to understand the vocabulary of maths so that they can apply it in different real-life situations.

How can this be done in a fun way?

1. Counting things – Count cars, smarties, sweets, people, lego pieces, steps, knives, forks, bottle tops, beans, shoes-As they get older,  count eyes, ears, fingers, hands, tricycle wheels  in twos, threes, fives and tens e.g  4 tricycles- how many wheels?, 6 people – how many eyes?

2. Give verbal word problems relating to everyday situations. Start with small numbers and simple problems. Move onto multi-step word problems as your child grows in confidence. Eg. Mum needs to buy a yoghurt for each child in the family, for every school day in a week. How many yoghurts must she buy?

3. Use fraction vocabulary – cut cakes, apples, pizzas into halves, quarters and even eighths. Share sweets between children.

4. Measure – Bake often with your child – measure, compare, weigh quantities, Use a balance scale – introduce the concept of equal to, more than, less than. Have a rain-gauge and a thermometer in the garden to measure rainfall and temperature. Keep records on a desk calendar to compare the different month’s rainfall. Keep a height chart. Record height of each sibling each year.

5. Tell the Time – Have a clock on the wall. Refer often to seconds, minute and hour hands, give time constraints e.g  10 minutes to have a bath, discuss days, weeks, months and years on a family calendar

6. Invest in number games that require and develop maths literacy and concepts. (Mr Tickles has a wide variety in Store – see page 10 for details)

7. Use ordinal vocabulary. Create fun family competitions making sure they all have turns to win and lose. The fastest runner, the best-decorated cake, biggest sand castle.

Parents, it is so important that you engage in mathematical language and concrete examples of mathematical concepts with your child on a regular basis so that they become confident in basic mathematical literacy before and after they begin their formal schooling…it is a springboard to developing a love for this wonderful subject.

‘Awakening the inner reader’ in your child

Research worldwide has shown leisure time reading has many benefits. Famous author, Michael Morpurgo says that “ reading widens and deepens one’s knowledge and understanding, develops the ability to empathise, explore and discover, to be comforted, calmed, excited, provoked and challenged, to spur confidence and creativity….”

Scholastic research on families and reading shows that a home with books and parents who read, encourages their children to read.

There are 4 dynamics that are significant influencers in producing life long readers.

They are:

  A child’s belief that reading for fun is important

  A child’s level of enjoyment in reading

  Parent’s reading frequency and reading model

  Parental involvement in their child’s reading habits

So what can you do?

• Sow the “reading is fun”seeds from a very early age. Create time and space for reading together, alone and as a family. Make reading a daily priority at home!

• Create a home Library.

Have books in your home that are appealing, interesting and allow for choice.

• Join the public library in our community, it is free – visit it regularly. Meet the librarians, enjoy the space. Take time to let your children choose their own books.

• Encourage their use of their school library!

Talk to them about the books they take out at school. Encourage them to read around their subjects by reading non-fiction books on the topics covered in Science, Math, Geography, History, Life Orientation, English, Afrikaans and Zulu.

• Encourage the reading of a variety of reading material books, magazines, newspapers, comics, graphic novels, online articles etc.)

• Share books with your children 

Reading aloud to them and with them.  Have family readathons! Create reading memories.  Celebrate literary days as a family –  World Read Aloud Day, Library Week, Readathon  Week, Poetry Day, etc.

• Teach your children how to choose books.

Covers, blurbs, starting the book to see if it “hooks you in”.  Teach them how to find books on their interests.  Help them get to know the authors they enjoy.

• Be a reading model.

It is not what you read that is important but the fact that you set an example to them that reading is fun!  Show them that YOU value reading.

• Be involved in your child’s reading journey.

Talk about how reading articles, books, stories, news, internet …  make you feel, why you like or don’t like them, what you learned from reading.

Michael Morpurgo said, “all that matters is that they learn to love it [reading] … children want to learn, so give them the love of story first, the rest will follow…”

The challenge is yours to embrace.

IRENE REID

(Teacher/librarian & Reading Consultant)

References:

Michael Morpurgo Book Trust Inaugural lecture Sept. 2016

Scholastic Reading Research & Reports 2017

The Book Whisperer (2009) & Reading in the Wild (2013) – Donalyn Miller

Reading Magic – Mem Fox (2008)

www.bestbooksforkids.com/benefits-of-reading.html – Felicity

www.nicolamorgen.com/tag/reading-for-pleasure/ – Nicola Morgan

Choosing the right school for your child

The Greater Durban area and wider KZN offers a huge variety of schools, but which one is right for your child?

The weight of this decision weighs heavily on many parents as your choice will have a huge impact on the formative years of your child’s life. The first step towards making the best choice, is to know and understand your child.

Ask yourself: Which school would get the best out of my child so that he would make progress and achieve his potential? Your child’s character and emotions should also play an important role in your decision.

Look at the school’s philosophy and whether it fits in with your family values.

Ask the school what type of child they expect at their school. Attend open days to get a sense of the school’s ethos. See the school in action during a school day to try to get a picture of the school as it really is and trust your gut instinct. Is there a sense that relationships are warm, that children are engaged and learning? Are the principal and teachers approachable, genuine, and trustworthy? Take your child with you and listen to what they say.

Speak to friends about their preferences and chat to children of parents already placed in schools about their experiences. Look closely at the pupils – their manners, relationships, approach towards their teachers and their teachers’ approach towards them. Look at the school’s website. Is it informative? Look at the school magazine, the headmaster’s report, pupil’s writing, art, clubs and sports.

Also take into consideration these important factors:

• Teacher to pupil ratio/class size?

• Single sex vs co-ed?

• Is the school a feeder facility for your preferred primary/high school?

• Proximity to your home?

• Which schools are your child’s peers attending?

Felicity Tonkinson, Educational Psychologist

Homework –  a powerful tool to monitor maths and science performance. 

Homework can be used as a catalyst for discussion on what happened at school. It lets parents know what their children are learning, and provides an opportunity for parents to liase with teachers about their concerns.

Homework helps parents identify which subjects their children enjoy and are good at, in which subjects they need encouragement and more effort and which subjects they battle with.

Mathematics and Physical Science tend to pose problems for many children. Being involved in your child’s homework will reveal whether more teacher attention or extra tuition is required. Or, on the flip side, whether support to keep achieving in them is required.

How can parents become more involved in their children’s learning process?

• Support the school’s requests and suggestions related to homework. Check and sign completed homework

• Attend all teacher-parent meetings.

• Create a set place for homework to be done.

• Set a timeframe in which to complete it. Take the whole family into consideration in this planning, to ensure smooth running and minimal tension.

• Establish non-negotiable ground rules and expectations, such as no playing / free time until homework is completed to a set standard.

• Praise improvement or accomplishment.

• Be empathetic. Assist with strategies to deal with challenges.

Parents are the first point of call when it comes to identifying problem areas, and are part of the bigger conversation with their children’s teachers, tutors and schools.

Master Maths Head Office

As parents and teachers, we share the responsibility for the education of the children in our care. Here are some responses/aspects that we could expect from one another:

Parental Responsibilities:

  • Communication is paramount. Make an appointment to discuss your concerns in depth. Incidental chats at shops or social evenings are never fruitful.
  • Meet your commitments; return your correctly completed reply slips timeously.
  • Check and sign homework books daily.
  • Be careful not to negatively discuss the school or your child in front of him/her. It can cause mistrust in the school and affect self worth and confidence.
  • Meet your financial requirements and if unable to do so, communicate this to the school so satisfactory arrangements can be made.
  • If some kind of professional intervention is suggested, it’s in your child’s best interest. Calmly consider the teacher’s observations and explore their recommendations before making a decision.
  • Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Gossiping about the school and the way things are done exacerbates the problem.

 

The School shall:

  • Employ fully qualified teachers.
  • Provide a safe, caring yet challenging learning environment to suit all learners –

stimulating, motivating and extending every child towards age-appropriate skills.

  • Be respectful and fair in dealing with each child – helping each to reach his/her full potential.
  • Inform parents of their child’s progress via interviews as well as written reports.
  • Communicate with the parent if there is a concern about any aspect of their child’s progress.
  • Communicate effectively and timeously to parents about any school events.
  • Be professional at all times regarding dress code, speech, and behaviour.

Contributed by:

Barbara Daniel, Principal

St Martin’s Pre-Primary School

The best parenting advice you can implement is to ensure that your children learn to read and become decoding experts. The value of literacy should never be underestimated in a world suffering from information overload. Learning how to read and learning to read well is a gift that can never be taken away.

Children need to hear words to tune their ears

  • Read stories to them from a young age
  • Listen to them read books to you aloud
  • Engage them in conversations

We literally need to talk our children clever!

Learning to read

This happens between the ages of 2 and 8 where children are acquiring the skills to help them recognise letters of the alphabet, read them, write them and blend them. Shape and colour games are very important at this stage as they help children work out similarities and differences. The lines contained in shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, diamond and circle), form the basis of every letter of the alphabet. There are dozens of perceptual skills that need to be acquired in the early years to help a child learn how to read. Support your child’s educators by reinforcing skills at home.

Reading to learn

From age 9, basic reading skills can now be consolidated to enable children to read for meaning. This is the exciting stuff that unlocks the world for your child.

Keep encouraging and supporting them on their reading journey whether in real books or on a computer or tablet.

Test their comprehension

Make sure your children understand what they are reading. Can they derive meaning from it or are they just reading words? This is the value of learning comprehension skills at school. When you are reading a story together, check to see if they are really listening by asking questions about the content.

In a world of information overload, good comprehension skills are vital to critically assess the quality of sources of information and to be able to rapidly find information.

Tell it in your own words

When children tell you about what they are reading, encourage them to try and put it in their own words so that they develop the skill of paraphrasing.

High frequency words

The more familiar children are with the 220 most frequently used words (a list known as the Dolch word list) the more fluid their reading will be. Here is an activity you can do with children, to help them spot these words:

Give them a newspaper article and a pen. They circle all the ‘and’ words, then ‘the’ words, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘them’ etc.

Word power as a sign of intelligence

Word power enables children to express their innate intelligence. It is one thing to have good ideas and quite another to be able to communicate them. Help your children to do both by ensuring that they learn to read. Word power is king!

 

NIKKI BUSH

Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting, Future-proof Your Child and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions

 

www.nikkibush.com