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Never in the history of mankind have we been so bombarded by technology in the form of cellphones, tablets and computers. Cindy Glass, Owner and Co-Founder of Step Up Education Centres say,” We are a species with highly addictive personalities and we seem quite oblivious to the effects that this is having on our ability to learn and retain new information, concentrate on tasks, engage in creative, imaginative play and enjoy healthy human relationships. Our children spend many hours watching screens, hopping between apps and only needing to focus for seconds at a time, if at all. We are, quite literally, losing our minds!”

She adds that we are born with an innate ability and need to explore, learn, design, imagine and engage with our physical world. “We have bodies that can move and minds that can dream of the impossible and make it possible. There is no technology on earth that can replace the brilliance of a human mind, if it is allowed the opportunity to be used effectively.”

Children are born wanting to play and learn, but, even before they are able to express this genius, we put a screen in front of them.  Screen-time has become the new nanny of the 21st century and studies have shown that ‘she’ is the least effective way to encourage the wholistic development of a human being.

Cindy explains that in order for our brain to learn the essential skills of creativity and imagination, it needs to have space! Research has shown that too much screen time causes the human brain to become over-stimulated.  It does not have to do any work to receive the images and activities that are available at a touch of a button. Few, if any, critical thinking or problem-solving skills are required to mindlessly hop between apps, videos and games.  The mind is a muscle that needs exercising and engagement in order to develop and grow.

At the same time however, we know that Technology is here to stay. So. How do parents ensure that it is used wisely?   What would happen if you deliberately restricted the amount of screen time that your children were allowed to use? Many parents would flinch at the thought! ‘My child will be angry and worse, bored!’

Cindy recognises that this would be most parents concern but adds that it would only be for a week! “Children are so addicted to their screens that it may take a few days to adjust to finding other ways to engage with their world more effectively BUT, once boredom kicks in, the mind begins to wake up! The brain seeks to stimulate itself and looks for ways to create new scenarios in which to work. This is where imagination and creativity and new ideas begin. Art, music, reading, climbing the tree outside, having real human conversations, dancing, running, laughing, writing and designing are some of the essential life skills that will start developing as a result of being bored for a moment. The brain is forced to focus for longer periods of time and concentration skills are greatly enhanced!”

“As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that we give our children opportunities to be without the world of addictive technology so that their minds, bodies and emotions can develop to their full potential. It is our responsibility, to take responsibility for how much time is spent in front of a screen. Do not fear boredom.  Allow it. You may just be surprised at the outcome!” Cindy concludes.

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It has become increasingly more common to see children using tablets, portable gaming devices and smartphones with headphones. Certainly these days our children are wired for sound, but does this increased use of headphones and the potential damage inflicted by them mean that they will be more wired for hearing aids in the near future? 

Loud noise and sounds can be very damaging to a child’s hearing. Both the level of noise and the length of time exposed to it can put your child at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Sound levels are measured in decibels (dB); the higher the decibel number, the louder the sound/noise. Research has shown that sounds louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss. However, it’s not a linear relationship. Eighty decibels is twice as loud as 70 decibels, and 90 decibels is four times louder. Exposure to 100 decibels, about the volume of noise caused by a power lawn mower, is safe for just 15 minutes. Noise at 108 decibels, however, is safe for less than three minutes. Most of the hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds can happen very slowly and take years to be detected by the person who has it.

Sound Level Length of exposure, before damage to your hearing
50 – 70 dB No damage
85 dB 8 hours
90 dB 2 hours
100 dB 15 minutes
110 dB  1 minute
120 dB and upwards Instant damage

One of the most common ways young children are exposed to excessive noise is via noisy toys. Many toys are designed to be played at a distance from the body, but a young child will bring the toy close to his/her face and ears. By bringing the toy closer to his/her ears, the resulting sound is louder and therefore more damaging. Some toys can reach 100dB  or more if placed close to the ear.

Research has shown that there has been an increase in hearing loss in adolescents during the past three decades. What is even more frightening is that a loss of hearing may go undetected for many years after chronic exposure to high levels of noise. This means that the hearing loss caused by the noise teenagers are exposing themselves to today might not surface for many years.

A recent study suggests that children who listen to headphones may be at greater risk for a noise-induced hearing loss. The study further claimed regardless of how long they wore headphones or how high they set the volume, kids who used headphones just one or two days a week were more than twice as likely to have hearing loss as children who didn’t use headphones at all. 

A noise-related hearing loss is classified as a hearing loss in the high frequencies (high pitched sounds). A child with a noise related hearing loss may struggle to hear soft or faint sounds, speech may sound unclear or muffled and it may be accompanied by ringing in their ears.  Noise-induced hearing loss generally comes about gradually and is not painful. However, the damage caused to the inner ear is irreversible.  A loss can be temporary after a loud event but it can become permanent with repeated exposure to noise.

How can I tell if I’m listening to dangerous noise levels?

You or your child is listening to dangerously loud sounds/noise if:

  • You must raise your voice to be heard even when you’re 1 meter from the person.
  • If you can clearly hear what your child is listening to through their headphones, then it is too loud
  • If a parent is arm’s length away, then the child should be able to hear if the parent asks a question. 
  • You are listening to music or a game at more than 50 percent (half) of the maximum volume.
  • Speech around you sounds muffled or dull after you leave the noisy area.
  • You have pain or ringing in your ears (“tinnitus”) after exposure to noise.

What can be done?

  • You cannot limit every sound that a child hears, you can take some preventive steps to minimize potential damage
  • The best option is to avoid the loud sounds or noise whenever possible.
  • If that is not possible, use hearing protection like earplugs and/or earmuffs. Cotton will not protect your hearing.
  • If you don’t have any hearing protection available, try to limit the amount of time you or your child is exposed to the loud sound.
  • When purchasing toys for infants, look for ones with a volume control or an off/on button.
  • Limit the amount of time that children are exposed to sound or remove the batteries from young children’s toys. Another option is to cover the loudspeaker with tape to lower the volume.
  • Keep personal-listening devices set to no more than half volume. Don’t be afraid to ask others to turn down the sounds from speakers.
  • Encourage children to take breaks from their headphones in order to give their inner ear hair cells time to rest 
  • Instead of the in the ear headphones, let your child use headphones that fit over their ears. 
  • Purchase sound limiting and noise cancelling headphones for your child but continue to monitor the level that they listen at
  • Look for noise ratings on appliances, sporting equipment, power tools, and hair dryers. Purchase quieter products

Life is loud so lead by example! YOU can also lose your hearing with noise exposure, so use hearing protection when needed and listen to music, the T.V., and other sounds at a softer level. Remember to test your child’s hearing on an annual basis to monitor their hearing abilities.


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Spur Secret Tribe Chief Cook competition Silwood May2019 - YouTube

Working with unique South African flavour combinations, experimenting with different ingredients, measurements and cooking styles, but most of all family fun, were the highlights at the Secret Tribe Chief Cook competition recently held at Silwood School of Cookery in Rondebosch, Cape Town. 

13 family teams from across Cape Town came together to create culinary delights and compete against each other to create the best Gourmet Burger and the most decadent Chocolate Brownie Sundae. The teams were made up of a variety of combinations (mother-and-son, mother-and-daughter and father-and-daughter), who went all out to win the top prizes in each category. The event was part of a competition for Spur’s loyal Secret Tribe members – an exclusive club for kids aged 12 years and younger.

Each team was given two challenges. First challenge was to create a Gourmet Burger, working with the famous Spur burger patty and sauces, as well as a variety of toppings to create the ultimate burger. For the second challenge each team was tasked with baking a tray of chocolate brownies from scratch and then layering them with other sweet treats and toppings, to create an eye-popping Chocolate Brownie Sundae. 

In each round the teams were judged on their ability to work together, as well as the taste of their food, what toppings they used, how well the flavours worked together and how they plated their food.

The ‘Best Burger’ challenge was won by mother-and-daughter team, Jayde Haupt and 11-year old Dakota, who cooked their patty to perfection and used a delicious combination of sauces and toppings. Father-and-daughter team, Lionel Scholtz and 9-year old Jenna came a close second.

Mom-and-son team, Victoria Ruiters and 8-year old Leonard were awarded the first prize for their Chocolate Brownie Sundae dessert.  The runners up were mom-and-daughter team Vanessa Rushin and 7-year old Jayla. 

“This was our seventh Chief Cook event and once again the contestants had so much fun in the kitchen.  Our lives are so busy and this event is an opportunity for families to slow down, spend time in the kitchen making great food from scratch and enjoy each other’s company. As always it was really difficult to choose the winners!” says Joe Stead, Creative Director from Spur Steak Ranches. “Thank you also to Spur Sauces, Ceres, Freddy Hirsch, Nature’s Garden and SunPick who partnered with us to bring families together in the kitchen”. 

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Thinking ahead will often save you money. Last-minute decisions or leaving things until they become a crisis generally don’t. It’s why prepping your home for winter is usually time well invested.

While winter weather isn’t the same across South Africa – wet and windy in the Western Cape, dry and bitter in Gauteng – it’s cold just about everywhere.

DirectAxis spoke to some experts about how to prepare your home for winter. We asked that their tips had to be things that most home owners can implement without too much expertise.

Unsurprisingly, keeping out the cold topped the list.

Although insulating your home is a good idea anyway, doing so at a time when the electricity supply is under pressure is doubly beneficial. Not only will you save electricity, which is going to get more expensive, but it’ll be easier to keep warm if there is more loadshedding. 

Check your doors and windows for draughts. It’s relatively easy to fit self-adhesive rubber seals to the bottom of doors which are letting cold air in. Alternatively, you can make or buy a sausage-dog draught-stopper to block the gap. 

Do the same with windows. Repair glass that isn’t fitted properly or where putty or seals are damaged, fix windows that don’t seal and replace any worn or missing weather strips.

Although these seem like small steps, sustainability websites claim that you can lose up to 15% heat through draughty doors and 10% though unsealed windows.

Curtains are better than blinds for keeping out the cold and retaining heat. When there is a bit of warmth and sunlight you can keep them open to warm the house and close them at night to keep the warm air in. 

Once you’ve finished at ground level move to the ceiling. If you don’t have insulation, consider getting some. It’ll keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. It’s not difficult to fit, but if you have doubts about your DIY abilities, call in the experts. Every house differs, but expert opinion holds that an average house will lose about 25% of heat through the roof.

While you’re up there, check if you have a geyser blanket. Heating water requires a lot of energy, up to 40% of household electricity usage, so insulating your geyser will save you money in the long run. Geyser blankets aren’t very expensive, around R300 on average. 

When you’ve finished insulating the inside of your house, check the outside.

If you live in a winter rainfall area, clear your gutters of leaves and other debris. Water in clogged gutters can break the brackets that support them. The water also needs to go somewhere. If you’re lucky it will pour harmlessly over the side, hopefully not above an entrance. If not, it can blow up under the tiles and damage ceilings and fittings.

While you’re up there look for loose, broken or missing tiles or ridge tiles. These can cause leaks or allow wind in, potentially causing more damage. Also check that seals around chimneys or other fittings such as skylights are intact.

Take a walk around to see if there are any trees that might blow over or branches that could break and damage the house or installations such as satellite dishes. You may be able to trim them yourself, but if the tree is too big, you don’t have the right equipment or aren’t sure about what you’re doing, it’s best to get in a professional. Bear in mind some indigenous trees are protected, so if you’re not sure ask an expert.

Pack away or cover garden or stoep furniture that you aren’t going to use. Winter weather can damage wooden and metal furniture and even plastic perishes when exposed to the elements. If you live in a region prone to high winter winds, consider that outdoor furniture which gets blown around could be destroyed and can also damage anything it hits.

While you’re looking around outside, check the lighting. It gets darker earlier in winter, so this is a sensible security precaution. Well-lit paths and approaches will help deter criminals. There’s also the practical benefit that it will prevent you or any of your family or friends tripping and falling in the dark.

DirectAxis’ chief marketing officer, Marlies Kappers, says the experts agreed that preventing problems is always less expensive than fixing them afterwards.

“Thinking ahead and spending a little on some basic household maintenance will save money in the long run. Small improvements to your home will also help retain or even increase its market value.”

For more information on home improvements visit: https://www.directaxis.co.za/imagine/loan-for-home-improvement

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C-Section recovery is a much needed practice after welcoming your bundle of joy into the world. But where do you start? How can you begin to heal as a mom who’s jut delivered via Caesarean? 

How Long Can You Expect A C-Section Recovery To Take?

Generally, the expected recovery time for a C-section is around 6 weeks. However, you may feel as though you need a bit longer. This is particularly true for moms who already have children. If you feel you need more down time, just continue to consult with your doctor regularly to keep check on your recovery.

Looking after Your Wound

You will need to follow your care instructions given to you by your midwife or doctor post-surgery. After the first few days of surgery, your bandaging will be ready to come off and your stiches removed. you should consult your doctor if at any time you feel:

  • As though you are developing a temperature
  • You are experiencing strange sensations such as tummy cramps or you are just not feeling well
  • Your cut begins to act up in any way – swelling, discharge or becomes painful

Pain Relief At Home

Know that you are bound to experience a bit of pain and discomfort. You did just undergo surgery after all. As such, you will most likely be prescribed pain medication during your recovery time. You will also be able to make use of various products to help your recovery, such as the Upspring C-Panty range. 

About The Upspring C-Section Recovery C-Panty 

This particular panty was designed to specifically aid moms in their recovery from a Caesarean op. The design and materials used in the making of this product are aimed at keeping a C-section wound clean, and the mom in question comfortable. Read our full review on this excellent product this month and see why you should invest in a pair of these panties now. 

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Winter is coming in South Africa and flu, colds and fevers may become a reality in our home.  A parent of young children need an ally when it comes to looking after sick loved ones and nothing gives the confidence that a practical and intuitive thermometer can.

Chicco’s Comfort Quick ear thermometer takes temperatures in roughly 1 second from the ear canal, providing fast an accurate measurements either in Celsius or Fahrenheit.

With a small, soft probe it provides minimum annoyance or discomfort whilst taking the reading.

Comfort Quick reveals a possible pyretic episode with an acoustic signal that indicates a fever alarm.  Clinically tested, comfortable and practical, the Comfort Quick also comes with its own handy storage case.  Suitable for use from birth.

Pick one up today at www.takealot.com, www.loot.co.za and selected Kids Emporium stores for R999.

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Gerhard Van Emmenis, Principal Officer of Bonitas Medical Fund talks about pneumonia:

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a child dies from pneumonia every 30 seconds. Which means that around 1.1 million children, under the age of five, die each year. This is more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a lung inflammation caused by a bacterial or viral infection, it’s when the air sacs in the lung fill up with pus and can affect or one or both lungs.

The flu shot and pneumonia 

Having a flu vaccine is the first line of defence when it comes to protecting yourself, with studies showing it reduces the risk by about 50 to 60%.  The vaccine trains your body to recognise flu and fight it.

Pneumonia is a relatively common and serious complication of flu.Supporting evidence from randomised clinical trials indicates that fluvaccines are effective in preventing influenza-associated pneumonia.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:

  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults aged 65 and older)
  • A cough, which may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Shortness of breath

How are flu and pneumonia different?

Bonitas explains that pneumonia symptoms are similar to flu but last longer. The severity of the pneumonia depends on your age and overall health.  In the case of newborns and infants, sometimes they show little or no infection and other times they may vomit, have a fever and cough, have difficulty breathing and eating. 

Pneumococcal vaccine 

There are a total of 80% Community Acquired Pneumonias (CPAs). These streptococcal bacteria can spread from the nose, throat and ears to cause pneumonia – a severe infection of the lungs. 

The vaccine protects you against: Infection that can result in Pneumonia, infection of the blood (bacteremia/sepsis), middle-ear infection (otitis media), or bacterial meningitis. Pneumonia is by the most common of these infections. 

Is it an annual vaccination?

The pneumococcal vaccination is suitable for those over 65 years of age or immune compromised members a pneumococcal vaccination once every five years. 

Who should have the pneumonia vaccination?

It is recommended for all individuals aged 65 years or older plus individuals aged 2-64 years with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition. In fact for anyone with an  increased risk, from a  chronic disease, immune-suppressed people particularly those who are HIV positive, cancer sufferers and smokers who are more prone to respiratory illnesses.  

The cost of pneumonia

In severe cases of Pneumonia, the estimated cost of spending a night in intensive care is R15 000 whereas a Pneumococcal vaccine costs around R1000. Most medical aids do cover the cost. Bonitas offers a free flu vaccine annually to members as well as a once off pneumococcal vaccine for people over 65 years of age.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), ‘In addition to reducing the risk of hospitalisation for an influenza infection itself, the flu vaccinations appear to reduce the likelihood of hospitalisation for influenza-associated complications such as pneumonia. 

When to see a doctor?

See your doctor if you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, persistent fever of (39 C) or higher or a persistent cough, especially if you’re coughing up phlegm. 

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There is a lot of talk in South Africa about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the need for education in the country to start preparing learners for the future world of work from a young age. Unfortunately in South Africa, resources are often lacking and many teachers are not yet equipped to teach coding. However this shouldn’t stop parents from encouraging their children to start with the basics of coding from a young age, an expert says.

“As we teach our children to read and speak our mother tongue language so we should start with coding at an early age,” says John Luis, Head of Academics at ADvTECH Schools, a division of South Africa’s largest private education provider.

“Parents who are not tech savvy may find this daunting, so the easiest way to start the children off will be to download some apps to their mobile devices which will use games to kick off the coding thought processes. Learning to code is like learning how to speak, read and write in a different language. Children are very good at learning a variety of languages from a young age so teaching them coding will be no different,” he says.

Luis says that the importance of preparing children for a technologically-enabled future cannot be overstated.

“Technology changes rapidly and our children must be able to adapt, be agile minded and most importantly prepared for the future working world. The 4IR should not be dismissed as a buzzword – it is real, and it is here where our lives will become intertwined with technology, the edges between reality and virtual worlds will blur and we need to ensure our children will be effective workers in this rapidly changing environment. 

“This means that in the future world of work, coding will be a fundamental digital skill which our children will need to be literate in much the same way we prepare our children with language, numeracy and physical skills. Coding is no longer a skill reserved for scientists, engineers and IT geeks.”

Luis explains that the fourth industrial revolution is characterised by a rapidly developing technological environment in which disruptive technologies, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, robotics and artificial intelligence are changing the way we exercise, play, study, live and work.

“Behind this technology, functionality is achieved using code. It is how we communicate with computers, build websites, mobile apps, computer games and instruct robots. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already becoming more integrated into our homes. Smart TVs and watches, automated home management and security are only some of the examples where IoT is already used.”

Like mathematics, becoming competent in the language of coding has many advantages beyond the obvious, he says.

“Coding also helps with maths skills, it fosters creativity, improves problem solving abilities and can improve language and writing skills,” he says.

Internationally coding has long been recognised as a future life skill and is offered as part of the normal primary school curriculum.  In South Africa, high schools have had the subject from Grade 10 to 12 as a subject choice (Information Technology) for many years, but it was mostly offered to select learners based on their mathematics marks. Still, only a small percentage of schools have been able to offer the subject as it requires dedicated infrastructure and highly competent teachers.

The situation looks better at progressive private schools, where coding has been introduced as part of the mainstream offering, from as early as pre-prep, where children are introduced via simple techniques and readily available software.

“While many schools are still in the starting blocks, and most haven’t even arrived for the race yet, parents must realise that academic excellence and individual competitiveness in future will require a solid grasp of the language of technology. So the question of a school’s offering in this regard should be one they take very seriously before enrolling their child.

“And where they do not yet have the option of enrolling their child in a school that incorporates coding as part of the mainstream offering – which is the reality for the majority of the country – they should ensure that their child isn’t left behind, by assisting them independently,” says Luis.

One of the options available to these parents, is to search for holiday camps in their area. And where those are not offered, parents can start by helping their child download some of the various free mobile applications and software (listed below) which help young children to start coding, he says.

* Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/educators) is a very effective free coding language that is designed specifically for ages 8 to 16 but can be used by people of all ages.

* Alice (https://www.alice.org/) is a block-based programming environment that makes it easy to create animations, build interactive narratives, or program simple games in 3D.

*Microsoft Minecraft Education an educational version of Minecraft, the game popular with children all over the world. (https://education.minecraft.net/) .

* Roblox (https://developer.roblox.com/resources/education/Resources) caters for children from the ages of 8 to 14.

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So far, I have written about some of the difficulties experienced in raising and parenting one’s ADHD/ADD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder/attention deficit disorder) child.

Right now, it’s time to look at the many positives that ADHD children have – but please bear in mind that every child is different – they may all have the same diagnosis but they are all still their own people with their own temperaments, characteristics, personalities, etc. so the list that follows is a generalisation, and not necessarily applicable to all.

Firstly, the ADHD symptom of hyperfocus is incredibly useful. When our children are interested in something, we all know how difficult it is to tear them away. When this is something important for their wellbeing and development such as a wonderful hobby, a subject they are incredibly interested in or learning a new skill, this hyperfocus is a total gift and keeps them on track for hours on end.

Secondly, we often hear how adventurous, curious and hyperactive the ADHD child is – these are very positive qualities when channelled constructively. If one reads any book about entrepreneurs, successful businesspeople, etc. these are the qualities that are often used to describe them. Being curious means wanting to find out about things and pushing for more knowledge, the sense of adventure will direct the curiosity to exploration and experimentation and the busyness means that the person has the energy to do so. Within the context of work and life, these are very positive qualities when used effectively.

Thirdly, the resourcefulness, innovativeness and inventiveness of these kids can be incredible. I have watched my one son use his artistic talent to sell his works online, get commissions from others and therefore earn money on the side (this was at 16 years old). This is a good example of using these characteristics to think out of the box, in a lateral way.

And lastly, our children are often incredibly forgiving, good-hearted and gregarious. I believe that this stands them in good stead in their dealings with others. I can only be grateful for these qualities when I think back to my early struggles with my eldest son and how awful I was at times, and how close and connected we are today. Thank goodness for his forgiving, good-hearted nature!

It’s important to be aware of the positives of these ADHD/ADD symptoms when we are caught in the morass of frustration and sometimes despair. 

We only need to think of Albert Einstein who was repeatedly seen as a poor student by his teachers and who only began to talk after the age of two. Today, he is recognised as having been ADHD. One of my favourite quotes by him is, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. This is often what happens with the ADD child in the school environment and it is often only after school that all of the so-called negative characteristics of ADHD are viewed in the positive light I have described above. 

Remember too Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Justin Timberlake, Michael Phelps as beautiful examples of ADHD people, and then go and give your child a big hug!

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Grade Nine learners will soon have the exciting task of selecting the subjects they want to pursue for the next 3 years, on which they will be tested during the final exams. Because of the withdrawal of the designated subject list by the Department of Basic Education last year, they are truly spoilt for choice, but this also means they need to be more focused than ever, because their decision now can have far-reaching and even life-altering consequences, an education expert says.

“It’s a tough ask of teenagers to make a commitment now which will affect their ability to gain access to higher education and potentially their qualification of choice in four years’ time, when many are not even yet sure what they want to study after school,” says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education provider.

“It is therefore very important for them to firstly realise the gravity of the potential consequences of the choices they make now, and then, to really consider the strategy which will keep as many doors as possible open down the line,” she says.

Mooney explains that Grade Nines are required to select at least seven subjects on which they will be tested in Matric, four of which are compulsory: Home Language, Second Language, Maths or Maths Literacy, and Life Orientation. The balance then, are elective subjects, and should be chosen carefully.

“Because there are no longer so-called designated subjects, learners may be tempted to choose subjects they envision will be comparatively easier than others, in order to gain the best possible Matric marks,” she says.

“However they need to consider not only which subjects will ensure they get admission to higher education, but also which subjects will allow them admission into their chosen qualification. If they don’t yet know what they want to do, they need to make sure that their choice positions them well to access a wide range of qualifications. Their selection must also ensure they can claim a well-rounded education upon completion of their schooling.”

Mooney says Grade Nines – with the help of their parents or guardians, and ideally even with the help of career and student counsellors from a respected higher education institution – need to carefully weigh up their various options, and the various combinations of subjects that are suitable for them.

“The aim is to choose those subjects that will leave you with a wide range of options, while at the same time also positioning you optimally to perform well in your last three years of school,” she says.

“Your subject choice must enable you to demonstrate proficiency in critical thinking and numeracy, and particularly important is the choice between Maths and Maths Literacy, as many university courses still require core maths,” she says.

Choosing three relatively easy subjects as electives might help a learner achieve good aggregate marks, but their options will be limited if their education doesn’t incorporate those subjects that teach logic and argumentation, and scientific and reasoning skills as found in for instance History, Accountancy and Maths, and Physical and Life Sciences, says Mooney.

“So it would not be wise to go for the short-term gain of spectacular marks, instead of implementing a long-term vision which will support an holistic academic development, as the impact on the future student’s studies – which require higher reasoning than what is expected at school – will be significant, even if they do qualify for study,” she says.

“The best way to future-proof your study options and therefore career choices, as well as your ability to be resilient and adapt to currently unpredictable changes in the world of work –  is to get as solid a grounding during your last three years of school as possible, even if it is going to be more challenging.

“Before making your choice, make an effort to gain as much information about admission requirements for potential career paths from a wide range of higher education institutions, and then to work back to ensure that your subjects will enable you to enter those fields. Very importantly however, ensure that your choices reflect a wide enough range to develop an extended skills base which will serve you well into the future.”

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