Monday, 25 June 2018

18 Interesting places for South African learners to visit during the school holidays.

The weather might be cold outside, but there is a wonderful world out there to explore during this school holiday.

After exams we are all grateful for the holidays so that we can rest and recharge. Take your time to recover from all the studying by sleeping in late, watching your favourite shows and spending time with friends. However, there is a great big world out there, full of adventures and discoveries to be made. Jawaharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India, said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

During this school holidays make time for something and go on an adventure. Here are 18 interesting places South African learners can visit during the school holidays.


Geluksfontein Goat Cheese Farm

If you love cheese, this farm in Limpopo is not to be missed.  Located in the Waterberg Area, 30 km from Modimolle (Nylstroom), Geluksfontein offers guided tours that demonstrates the cheese making process alongside cheese tasting. Tour tickets are priced at R 25.00 per adult and R 15.00 per child under the age of 12. 
Visit their website to see what else they have to offer.

Polokwane Art Museum

The Polokwane Art Museum is a place where one can learn about culture and tradition. The museum contains more than 1000 artworks, which includes paintings, ceramics, sculpture, photography and more. The art showcases local talent and reflect the area’s local mythology


Perry's Bridge Reptile Park

This adventure is not for the fainthearted. Perry's Bridge Reptile Park houses more than 80 different species of reptiles and even have opportunities for you to touch the snakes. The park is situated in Hazyview, near the Kruger National Park and will keep children (and adults) busy for hours. Tickets are priced at R85 for adults and R50 for children under 13 years.

Skyway Trails

If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to fly, then Skyway Trails will show you how to spread your wings. Skyway Trails is set in a natural forested valleys along the Sabie River, next to the Kruger National Park. Here you can zip line, climb and slide through the high trees and experience nature in a unique way.  Cost range from R160 – R495 per person. 
Visit their site for more.


Wits Planetarium

The Wits Planetarium is based in Johannesburg and will entertain the whole family by teaching young and old about astronomy. It is fascinating to learn about our vast universe and the way planets, stars and astronomical figures work. Tickets are priced R50 per adult and R35 per child. 
Visit their website to find out more.

Gold Reef City

If you are more on the adventurous side, Gold Reef City will thrill you with all its rides and activities. There are water rides like the Raging River Rapids, slow carousels like the Cups & Saucers and the exhilarating Anaconda. However, if you’re not keen for rides, you can enjoy the Heritage Tour to learn how Johannesburg came to be, how gold was discovered on the reef witness the magnificent glow of a live gold pour! Tickets range from R135 – R215 per person. 
Visit their website to book your tickets.

North West

Pilanesberg National Park & Game Reserve

If the wildlife calls you during the winter months, then you need to visit the Pilanesberg National Park & Game Reserve.  Here you can get in touch with nature, listen to bird sounds and if you’re lucky see the Big 5.  
Visit their website to book your safari/tour.

Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoortdam

Elephants are majestic creatures – and to see them in real life is magical. At the Elephant Sanctuary in Hartbeespoortdam you can have an interactive elephant experience, where you can learn hands-on about elephants and get to know the elephants on site. They also offer elephant rides, brushing and monkey tours. Rates for children start at R335 per person.

Free State

Kututsa Hiking Trail

If you love being outdoors and walking in nature, you should give the Kututsa Hiking Trial a go. This 22km hike will take you two days to complete, but will amaze you with a refreshing experience. You will walk alongside a stream, through the mountains and even sleep in a rock overhang. 
Visit their website to make your booking.

National Women's Monument

The National Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein is to commemorate the women and children who died and suffered in British concentration camps during the Second Boer War. The obelisk of 36,58m is grafted from sandstone from Kroonstad and depicts two women in front of the obelisk. The inscription on the monument reads “To our heroines and dear children, Thy will be done”.


Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre of Excellence (KZNSB) is the only organisation of its kind in the world. KZNSB keeps the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal safe through shark nets, drumlines and bather safety gear.  They also conduct research into the biology of sharks, educate tourists and scholars, house the Shark Museum and offer boat tours (R350 per person). 
Visit their website for more.

Umgeni Steam Railway

Experience historical travel means through the Umgeni Steam Railway. The train runs through the beautiful Valley of a Thousand Hills between Kloof and Inchanga in Durban. The line runs through a 53 metre long tunnel at Drummond built in 1878. Trains run on the last Sunday of each month and also houses the Inchanga Railway Museum. Tickets are priced at R240 per adult and R170 per child. 
Visit their website for more information.

Northern Cape

Big Hole

The Big Hole is one of the largest hand-dug excavations in the world.  Here at the Big Hole you can have an underground miners experience, view the hold that delivered beautiful diamonds and visit the Old Town. Tickets range from R100 per adult to R60 per child up to the ages of 12.
Learn more here.

Augrabies Falls National Park

Within the National Park you will find the spectacular Augrabies Falls with a height of 56m.  The indigenous Khoi called the Augrabies Falls “Aukoerebis”, that translates to ‘place of great noise’ and when you visit the falls you will know exactly why.  Here you can also walk the Dassie Trail, see the gorge and view spectacular wildlife in the park.

Eastern Cape

Tsitsikamma National Park

The Tsitsikamma National Park will refresh your soul after the long exam cycle. During a hike through the Tsitsikamma you will see oceans, beaches, forests and wildlife.  There are plenty of fun activities to do like swimming, climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, diving and snorkelling.

The Owl House

The Owl House is known today as a provisional national monument and is a museum in Nieu-Bethesda that attracts tourists to enter a new world of art and sculpture.  The Owl House is the artwork of Helen Martins that is filled with sculptures of hostesses, mermaids, camels, pilgrims and of course owls. Tickets are available for R50 - R70. 
Visit their website for more information on this mystical place.

Western Cape

Table Mountain

The famous Table Mountain has a lot more to offer than just pretty pictures. Not only is the view great, but Table Mountain is home to an estimated of 2,285 species of plants. You can either hike up or travel by cable car.  
You can book your tickets here.

Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is a prime example of a “star fort” and was built between 1666 and 1679. The Castle of Good Hope is the he oldest building in South Africa and can be seen as the oldest, operating office in the country.  The Castle of Good Hope has museums, guided tours, cannon firings and key ceremonies. Tickets cost R50 per adult and R25 per child.
Visit their website to learn more.

*Please note that prices may be subject to change. Please contact the individual facilities for updated prices and information. 

We hope you make the best of this holiday by resting, but also making new memories by going on a couple of adventures. Let us know what your plans are for the holiday and how you plan on spending your “lazy days”.

Monday, 18 June 2018

5 Tips to stay motivated during the exams.

Your exams are almost over. You cannot wait for the holidays. How do you stay focussed?

The last stretch before the holidays is always the hardest!  Especially when some of your friends have already finished all their exams and you still have to study.  How can you possibly stay motivated when freedom is so close (yet so far)?  That’s why we want to give you these 5 super easy tips to stay motivated to study for you last exam.

1. Stick to the schedule.

Sticking to a schedule can be quite difficult towards the last few exams.  This is because you are tired, probably have mental fatigue and you simply wish you could be on holiday already.  Therefore, your schedule will be your cornerstone.  Make sure you study in sessions of 45 minutes with a 15 minute break between sessions so that you don’t wear out during the day.  Make those 15 minutes memorable each time by doing something you enjoy, not just lying on the couch and checking your phone.  For example, sit outside during your break to breathe some fresh air, take a walk around the block, play with your pet or talk to some friends.  Remember to stick to your 15 minutes and return to your books after the break.

2. Find a study-buddy.

One of the things why we dread studying for the last exams is because we have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), because some of our friends might already have holiday.  There is inherently a feeling that you might miss out on certain fun activities that your friends are doing.  Find a friend that has the same dreaded exam they have to study for and create a study group.  Ensure that this study group only contains highly motivated people, the kind of friends who will encourage you to study and not decrease your motivation.

3. Minimise distractions.

When you need to study for that last exam, distractions seem to be everywhere!  If you usually study with your phone nearby or the TV on in the background, you are more likely not to remember new information.  During studying for the last exam you will be even more tempted to check your phone to see what everyone is up to.  Rather put your phone in a different room from the one you study, put the TV off and focus on your studies.

4. Schedule your temptations.

Instead of wishing you could be doing something else while you need to study, write down the activities you really want to do once the exam is over and schedule it in your diary.  Therefore you will be less tempted to do it while you need to study, because you know you will do it as soon as you are done with exams.  For example, if there is a series you love to watch or want to start watching, write in your diary that you will binge-watch the series the very first day of holiday. Do this for every activity or temptation that comes into your head.

5. Review your goals.

One of the most effective ways to bring your mind back to the reality of exams is to review your goals.  How badly do you still want a distinction in Life Sciences?  Do you want to be in the top ten academic performers in your grade?  What are your goals?  Review them and recommit yourself to study so that you can reach your goals.

The last few exams are always the hardest to study for – but learn to finish strong.  Finish your exam cycle with determination and perseverance.  Don’t give up right before the finish line.  Dan Green said, “Regardless of what came before or what has yet to come, what matters most right now is how I choose to respond to the challenge before me.  Will I lie down or will I fight?  The choice is mine and I choose to finish strong.”

Let us know how you plan on staying motivated for the last exam and share this with a friend who also needs a little motivation.

Monday, 11 June 2018

What parents can do to help their children during exams.

Every parent wants their child to do well in school. Here are some ideas how you can help out during the exams…

Being a parent means you want your children to only ever experience happiness and joy, that’s why during exams it’s difficult to watch your child go through stress and difficulties.  We want to encourage you to never stop believing in your child.  Matthew L Jacobson said, “Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.”  Here are some great ways how you can encourage your children to perform their very best.

1. Make sure they have a healthy diet.

One of the key factors to excel in exams is to have a healthy diet. By getting enough nutrients and staying hydrated during exams will strengthen your children’s immune systems so that they don’t fall sick and they feel more energised to study longer and more efficiently.

Make sure they eat a healthy breakfast in the morning before the exam.  Remember that too much sugar for breakfast will lead to a drop in blood sugar later in the morning.  Make sure you include healthy snacks in their diet, but remember to spoil them with a little treat every now and again – a few blocks of dark chocolate does wonders for the brain to help them study again the afternoon.

2. Watch their sleep cycles.

As children get older they might not have a bedtime anymore, especially if they need to study until late in the evenings.  However, make sure your child gets enough rest the night before a big exam.  Fatigue is one of the reasons why children don’t do well in the last few exams remaining.  It is important to note that if your child has a busy week of exams, for example they write Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that they can’t stay up too late to study on Sunday evening, because they still need to be able to write on Friday.  According to LiveScience children between the ages of 6 - 13 need from 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers, ages 14 – 17, is recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.  

3. Carrots and sticks.

An old economic metaphor to explain how a desired outcome can be reached is by use of carrots and sticks – rewards and punishments, respectively.  The metaphor is based on the idea that a mule will either work harder when presented with a reward (carrot) or punished by means of a stick.  Time and time again it is proven that rewards will induce bigger results.

The same principle goes for your children’s exam.  Don’t threaten them with punishments if they don’t do well in an upcoming exam.  Rather inspire them to work hard by presenting a reward, like going for a milkshake after the exam.  It doesn’t always have to be a literal gift or something of monetary value, for example, tell your children that when they receive a good education they will have the ability to change lives, they could start a business, they could own a beautiful home one day, they can have a career that make their dreams come true.  Inspire your children to study because they have a wonderful opportunity to reach their greatest potential.

4. Trust them.

Always make sure your children’s mental states are taken care off.  Make sure they know you are there for them and that you will help whenever possible.  Ask questions like “What is the most interesting thing you learned today?” or “How do you think the teacher will test a certain chapter?”.  Help them think about exam situations and help them focus on what’s important through questions.

You don’t have to sit by your child 24/7 to make sure they study.  Sometimes pushing and smothering them do more harm than good.  All they need is someone that will hold them accountable, someone that will be proud of them when they study and work hard.

5. Know your child.

One of the major responsibilities of being a parent is to make sure your children is physically and mentally taken care of.  Your children’s mental health will require you to really know them.  Ask yourself, do you really know what your children’s dreams are?  When you know what your children’s dreams and desires are, it’s a lot easier to help them.  Know your children’s strengths and weaknesses, know in which subjects they feel confident and in which they struggle.  Have a copy of their exam timetable and make sure you give them an extra big hug on days you know they will be stressed.

We want to share with you a letter that a principle in Singapore sent out to the parents of all the pupils:

“Dear Parents,

The exams of your children are to start soon.  I know you are really anxious for your children to do well.  

However, please remember, amongst the students who will be writing exams, there is an artist, who doesn’t need to understand Math.  There is an entrepreneur who doesn’t care about English literature or History.  There is a musician, whose Chemistry marks won’t matter.  There is a sport star, whose physical fitness is more important than Physics.  

If your child does get top marks, that’s great!  However, if he or she doesn’t, please don’t take away their self-confidence and their dignity.  Tell them “it’s just an exam” and that they are cut out for much bigger things in life!  Tell them, no matter what marks they receive, you love them and you will not judge them.  Please do this, and when you do, watch your children conquer the world.  One exam or low mark won’t take away their dreams nor talents.

And please, do not think that doctors and engineers are the only happy people in the world.

With warm regards,
Your Principal.”

We want to wish every parent the best of luck with their children’s exams.  Look well after them, encourage them, love them and support them unconditionally.  Let us know how you help our children cope during exams and how you make them feel special when they need you most.

Monday, 4 June 2018

How to deal with exam stress.

This time of the year is extremely tough and stressful for every learner. Don’t let stress get the better of you.

Stress has been the cause of health problems, anxiety and failed tests for decades – or so it may seem.  Today we want to change the way you view stress for the rest of your life!  Even though stress can feel paralysing or even make you feel sick, stress can actually activate strength in you. 

The key is to find the optimal amount of stress to perform our best and understand that we should change the way we think about stress.

Find the optimal amount of stress.

When you feel stressed for a test you can either feel overwhelmed, motivated or paralysed.  These three emotions has a direct effect on the outcome on your test.  Scientists, Robert Yerkes and John Dodson, conducted a study of the effect of stress on your performance.  The results is best described through a visual representation in terms of a graph.  On this graph, the x axis represents the amount of stress you experience, while the y axis shows your performance level (how well you do).  

The relationship between stress and performance results in a bell curve.  In the section marked “A” the stress is low and performance is low too.  This indicates where there is no stress before a challenging event you lack focus and motivation to work hard.  Section B and C is your optimal performance with moderate to high stress.  This is where you feel motivated to work hard, adrenalin is pumping and you prepare your best to meet the challenge.  Lastly section D shows extreme stress correlates with low performance.  When your stress is too high you become preoccupied with the stress itself and it gets the better of you, for example lack of sleep, anxiety or feeling like you “blanked out”.

When you find the optimal amount of stress you will feel inspired, motivated and determined to succeed.

So how do you get the optimal amount of stress?  

  • Practise under exam circumstances and get used to the feeling of exam stress under controlled environments.  You can do this by using ASP School Project’s Exam Papers and Answers.
  • Prepare in advance for your test so that the workload doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on you.
  • Don’t cram your study work so that you feel confused and flustered when writing the exam.
  • Minimise stress not related to the exam.  For example, if you have an important test or exam coming up, don’t put yourself under more pressure for a different activity that produces stress.  You should also eliminate stressful factors like fights or arguments with friends, stress surrounding your household or stressful social situations.  For that week of your exam, try to focus only on your exam.
  • Find relaxation techniques to calm yourself down when you’ve gone over your optimal performance stress level.

Change the way you think about stress.

Even after seeing this graph and understanding your optimal stress level, you might still be terrified of the word “stress”.  However, the way you think about stress can actually boost your performance even more!

Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist from Stanford University who studies the relationship between your health and stress.  She claims that a shift in the way you view stress will improve your life experience, happiness and health.  “When you change your mind about stress you can change your body’s response to stress.”

During a test, have you ever experienced symptoms of stress, such as an increased heart rate, breathing faster or even breaking out in a little sweat?  We have all been there!  We have all experienced anxiety and stress over exams and pressure.  However, McGonigal makes a new suggestion: “What if you view these signs as a way that your body is energised and preparing you to meet this challenge.”  

In other words you can view your stress response as helpful.  Your pounding heart is preparing you for action.  Increased breathing is sending more oxygen to your brain so that you can make decisions quicker and more accurate.  When you view stress as a helpful tool to increase your performance, your blood vessels don’t close up, but stay relaxed even though your heart might be pounding faster.  This is simply your body rising to meet the challenge.  This is your mind and body being courageous.

We want to encourage you to view stress an advantage during exams.  Change the way you view stress and find your optimal amount of stress where you can perform at your best.  Remember “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” ~ Unknown.  So handle your stress, ace your exams and become that diamond!

Share this article with friends if you know they have been have been dealing with stress.  Let us know what other techniques you use to perform your best!