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Monday, 30 July 2018

4 Advantages of exercise and sport activities on the brain.

Exercise is beneficial not only for your physical health, but also your mental health.



The topic of healthy living is constantly in the spotlight nowadays. Especially due to the fact that our way of living has drastically changed over the last couple of years compared to the past. We are moving at a faster pace in terms of basically everything. We all are more technologically inclined. Technology dictates the way we communicate, share information, travel, build structures, produce food etc. It obviously influences people’s occupations – which becomes increasingly more demanding and stressful despite the many improvements which science, technology and medical care offer.

Naturally the way in which our modern societies operate affect children’s education. Many of today’s parents didn’t have access to computers and the internet when they were children. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see children doing research for their assignments on tablets or mobile phones. Children also spend many hours doing homework and studying. This isn’t necessarily negative. After all – they are the ones that will continue the progress and development of our societies someday. However, our societies that develop at such incredible rates did not necessarily leave us moving faster. In fact we are physically less mobile – walking less due to transportation, spending less time doing hard labour due to machinery and spending less time on preparing meals due to fast food restaurants. Even our entertainment is the push of a button away… Not to mention some of the harmful aspects, such as pollution that can affect your health and mobility.

Due to this shift in the way we live our daily lives it is therefore more important than ever to have a sharp mind and a healthy body in order to keep up with the challenges we face every day. Some of the greatest ways to ensure physical health is through exercise and playing sports. I am sure you are aware of that fact. Like Jim Rohn said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”. Doing exercise builds stronger bones, muscles and joints. It controls your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attacks. While some of these issues are not yet of concern for most normal children it is worthy to take note of it. When children form good habits at an early age they will reap the benefits when they are older.


There are many more benefits of being active. Regular physical exercise can benefit your brain, mind and lifestyle. In this article we discuss the following scientifically-proven benefits of physical exercise on the brain:


1. Neurobiological Benefits.

2. Cognitive Benefits.

3. Psychological Benefits.

4. Lifestyle Quality and Performance Benefits.




1. Neurobiological Benefits.

Neurobiology refers to the biological study of the brain’s anatomy, physiology and nervous system. The brain is the most complex organ of the human body. It consists of the cerebrum (divided into two hemispheres), brainstem, cerebellum, complex organisation of grey and white matter and neurochemicals. The brain processes, coordinates and integrates information and controls most of the body’s functions.

Exercise increases the size of your brain.

The brain can be compared to a computer. When you exercise you put your body under temporary positive stress – which forces your brain to work harder in order for you to perform these tasks. Exercise physically alters your brain through a series of chemical processes. A scientific research study concluded that adults that were put through an aerobic fitness program over a 6 month period experienced an increase in grey and white matter of the brain. This is like upgrading the hardware of your computer and thus transforming it into a greater and more powerful machine.

Exercise increases the birth rate of new brain cells.

Neurogenesis is the process of growing new brain cells. A recently identified chemical called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is responsible for neurogenesis. According to an American study it is believed that regular short and intense aerobic exercise will increase BDNF in the brain, while strength training does not influence BDNF levels.

Exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue.

Despite many that believe exercise causes fatigue, it is actually the opposite. Researchers from the University of Georgia revealed that 20 to 40 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic-type exercise (such as cycling) can revitalize your energy levels. The impact of the raised energy levels isn’t just experienced physically, but it will also leave you feeling less “drained” mentally.



2. Cognitive Benefits.

Cognition is the mental action or process of obtaining knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and senses. You apply “thinking” to all of the tasks you want to perform. Some actions take more effort and brain power and others happen more or less automatically. The fact is, you can sharpen your cognitive abilities (such as concentration, speed and accuracy) through exercise!

Exercise improves concentration.

Our technologically-driven world puts a lot of strain on our minds, as we have discussed in the introduction of this article. The hours that we spend daily behind computers doing work and research can be mentally exhausting. As a means of escape from this we utilise more technology – computer games and television. Sometimes there is so much technology around us. With social media notifications buzzing, text messages and emails coming in it is hard to focus on one particular thing. That said, technology isn’t a bad thing as such. It improves our lives in many ways. We only have to find ways to utilise it for good and not allow it to distract and hinder us to live healthy, active lives.

Exercise is a great way to clear your mind from all of the constant distractions that is going on. People who are physically fit display much more control over their concertation when participating in a challenging cognitive task. The good news is that exercise can improve focus not only in teenagers and adults, but also in children. A short period of intense activity can improve reading and mathematical skills in children as evidenced in the ‘Effects of the FITKids Randomized Controlled Trial on Executive Control and Brain Function’ study.

The rise of ADHD in in children in recent decades is also a reflection of society’s difficulty to focus. Though the benefit of exercise for children is not new, recent findings done by Dr Betsy Hoza, professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, revealed that children that received “in-school exercise” as a treatment for ADHD showed improvement in their cognitive functioning.

The next time your mind feels clouded and you cannot keep focussed try to download a fitness app or an exercise programme and follow through with it.

Exercise improves memory.

Short term memory is the mind’s capacity to store a small amount of information that is readily accessible within a small time period. Short term memory is often considered as synonymous with working memory, though working memory refers more accurately to the framework of processes used to comprehend, interpret and manipulate the data stored in short term memory. Examples of working memory include recalling a series of digits (0 – 9), names or pictures within less than 2 minutes after exposure. Numerous studies in the past have produced various outcomes pertaining the effects of exercise on working memory. However, it is generally accepted that less than 20 minutes of low intensity cardiovascular exercise (such as walking, running and cycling) yields immediate improvement in visuospatial short-term memory, more so than verbal-audio short-term memory. Cardiovascular exercise done over a longer time period (40 minutes of medium intensity exercise over 6 months minimum) shows more improvement toward verbal-audio short-term memory in the long term.

When short term memory is retained after more than 2 minutes of the initial stimuli it becomes long term memory. Long term memory is the mind’s capacity to store data indefinitely. Such memories can last for just a few hours, a few days or even years depending on their strength. Examples of long term memory include the recollection of the details of a story or images presented 30 minutes earlier. A study on long term cardiovascular exercise shows improvement in long term memory since it prevents deterioration of the hippocampus (which is responsible for consolidating short term memory into long term memory).

Exercise increases IQ and improves academic performance.

Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a score derived from standardised tests designed to assess a person’s intelligence - relative to the average performance of other people of the same age. Research shows that a person’s IQ is influenced by fixed genetic factors (especially the brain’s structure) and modifiable environmental factors (such as birth, nutrition, physical and mental health and education) – a “nature” and “nurture” relationship, as explained in the ‘Journal of Neurology & Stroke’, available to read on ‘MedCrave’. While there isn’t much you can do to change your genetic makeup, there is substantial evidence to suggest that exercise can improve your IQ. A research study that obtained data from 1 million men in Sweden concluded that cardiovascular fitness is associated with global intelligence scores. Their logical, verbal, visuospatial, and technical scores reflected the same. Young men who improved their cardiovascular health between the ages of 15 and 18 also improved their IQ.

Academic achievement and physical fitness is closely connected. Aerobic exercise is the most prominent to provide better fitness and academic results. Regular exercise is responsible for spurring the growth of new brain cells. New brain cells make it possible to retain new information – which is crucial for learning. Read point number two in ‘Neurobiological Benefits’ of this article for more on this process.

It is worthy to note that the relationship between IQ and academic performance does not necessarily correlate. Some students with a high IQ doesn’t always experience success in the classroom. The opposite is also true. Some students with a lower IQ can achieve high academic success. What is definite is that both IQ and academic performance can be improved through exercise.



3. Psychological Benefits.

The brain not only coordinates the performance of your bodily functions and cognition, it is also responsible for your psychological and mental states. Life experiences, events and activities that happen throughout your day impact the way you think and react in situations and toward your surroundings. In other words your thoughts, emotions and personality – everything that makes you unique – is dependent on the brain. Sometimes things happen in your life that cause you unease, stress or distress which can be mentally taxing. Exercise can be utilised in order to make these negative mental states positive. It will turn you into a more resilient person that can handle these situations and feelings better.

Exercise reduces stress and anxiety.

Neurochemicals are released in the brain when you exercise. These include endorphins, dopamine and norepinephrine – which is responsible for cognition, awareness and enhanced mood. In addition to the “feel good” neurochemicals that are released during exercise, it diminishes cortisol and adrenaline – the hormones associated with stress.

Exercise can also be used as a technique to manage stress and anxiety since it clears your mind from personal-, work-, financial- and other stressors. Regular exercise will help you to maintain a positive attitude – even if you are exposed to a stressful or traumatic experience.

Exercise boosts mood and happiness.

Due to the chemicals released in your brain, your mood will improve almost immediately after you work out. While “being in a good mood” will increase your chances of “having a good day”, mood is considered to be very fluctuating and can change throughout the day. Happiness is something that is more enduring. For example, someone can accidently bump into you when you walk. This might cause you to be startled and a little bit upset because you dropped something. However, this single act won’t affect your overall happiness and cause you depression. That is why it is not only advisable to exercise for the sake of maintaining a positive mood, but also securing long term happiness.

A study of Canada’s National Population Health Survey (NPHS) revealed that long term physical activity has a strong influence over a person’s happiness. The results were as follow:
  • Inactive people were twice as likely to become unhappy, compared to active people.
  • People who became inactive were more likely to become unhappy.
  • People who became active were less likely to become unhappy.

Exercise prevents and fights depression.

Depression is a state of low mood which may affect a person’s thoughts and behaviour and cause disinclination toward activity. A depressed mood is often a normal reaction toward negative and traumatic life experiences – such as the loss of someone close to that person, rejection, disease etc. Depression is considered an illness, or, more appropriately, a mental disorder, once it lasts for several weeks with consistent symptoms that cause disruption in a person’s ability to function normally. It is accompanied by loss of interest in enjoyable activities and having low self-worth. Depression can be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors.

Depression is a difficult subject to talk about. Despite it being estimated by the World Health Organization to affect 350 million people (and numbers continuing to rise) many still have trouble to grasp the true extent of its affects and have mixed opinions about treatment methods. More cases of depression is reported by females, however men suffering from depression is more likely to die as the result of suicide. What is alarming is that it not only affect adults, but also children and teenagers. Depression in children and teens are often more aggressive and self-destructive. Suicide among 15 to 19 year olds is the third leading cause of death in western societies.

Like we already mentioned, treatment is a very controversial subject. Since most people these days are looking for an easy fix because they live very stressful, unhealthy and busy lives. They don’t have the will, energy or time to take care of themselves otherwise and would rather get a prescription for medication from an industry that take advantage of their willing consumers. That being said, depression is a very serious issue and medical treatment from professionals should always be sought. The flipside is that not all treatments have to come in the form of a capsule. There is substantial evidence to suggest that exercise is equally effective to prevent and cure depression compared to other alternatives.

The saying “prevention is better than cure” is extremely accurate. Even if you make a remarkable recovery from an illness or disease the chance that it will leave some form of mental or physical scar is very likely. The largest study on the prevention of depression, led by King’s College London and the Black Dog Institute in Australia revealed that 20 minutes of daily exercise can cut the risk by one third. In fact, as little as one hour per week can significantly reduce the possibility of depression (across people of all ages), but doing no exercise increases the possibility by 44%.

What’s interesting is that people suffering from depression can find alleviation through exercise as evidenced by the University of California – Davis Health System. Exercise restores the levels of two common neurotransmitters (metabolic pathways of chemicals responsible for sending messages in the brain), known as glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When these are depleted it leads to depression.



4. Lifestyle Quality and Performance Benefits.

Exercise can improve other aspects of your life and allow you to live life to the fullest.

Exercise enhances productivity.

Everyone wants to get things done properly and correctly in the least possible amount of time. Why? If you can achieve more, you have more opportunity to grow and improve yourself. Being productive gives you a sense of accomplishment which this is crucial for success.

A study conducted by the University of Bristol measured the productivity of 200 individuals in 3 different organisations. They found that their levels of productivity were higher on days of doing exercise and lower on days of no exercise. Workout days showed the following positive results:
  • 21% enhancement in concentration.
  • 22% enhancement in completing work on time.
  • 25% enhancement in working continuity.
  • 41% enhancement in motivation.

Exercise enhances creativity.

When you think of the word “creativity”, exercise or sports is most likely not your immediate response. You would rather ascribe creativity to the arts: drawing, painting, music, dance and writing. Creativity is also required in finding connections between seemingly unrelated data, presenting things in new ways as well as solving problems uniquely. This makes creativity a vital requirement for success in various fields – be it technology and inventions, architecture, food, marketing and business. Yes, even professional sport athletes that can think creatively during a match will likely score better than just playing according to textbook guidelines.

Exercise, as evidenced in a study by Stanford University, especially low intensity exercise such as walking, can improve cognitive efforts involved in creativity significantly. They found improvement in convergent thinking (the ability to find solutions), as well as divergent thinking (the ability to conceive new and original ideas).

Exercise enhances sleeping cycles.

In order for you to function properly you have to get a healthy amount of sleep every night. Not only does sleep help your body to recuperate, but also more importantly your mind. Sleep regulates a number of functions in the brain. These include among other things communication between neurons, the improvement of memory and cognition and the removal brain toxins. Sleep is crucial for stabilising your moods and energy levels. Thus it plays a vital role in your productivity, creativity and learning abilities. A disturbance in sleeping patterns (such as excess or a lack thereof) can have many negative effects on your body, mood and performance.

Short periods of high intensity workouts will yield positive effects on your sleeping cycles – including improvement in total sleep time and with less disturbances.



You are unique, participate in something that suits you.

Something to take into consideration when starting out with exercising and/or learning a new sport is that each child is unique. The type of exercise or sport, the duration of each session and number of times you should exercise per week will depend on: your age, stage of bodily development, other health factors, interests and preferences. Some children are natural born athletes. Others have yet to develop the stamina, motor skills and hand eye coordination to perform certain acts. However, most children will likely not get it right the first time. You don’t have to worry about it. It will take some practise before you get the basics down before seeing any real results. Exercise should be seen as a continuous process.

Do not be afraid of exercise and sport.

Reasons why some children avoid exercise and sport are usually because they are afraid of failing and being judged. It may have happened in the past and that is why they choose to avoid participation on the sports field. This experience caused them great stress and lowered their self-esteem. If this ever happened to you, you should not let it prevent you from trying again and living a healthy lifestyle. There is an awful lot of fun activities that you will miss out on. You also won’t experience all the benefits that exercise can offer your brain.

Start with small steps.

Find a sport or type of physical activity that you like. Decide on activities that reflect your personality and abilities. Choose between an individual or team sport. For instance, if you don’t like group activities ask yourself why? Are you reserved about all group-related activities or only when it comes to sport? Is it simply because you like doing things on you own? You can decide on how much physical contact and competition you would like – or not like to have. However, open your mind to the possibility that despite having a negative experience in the past you are likely to meet similar minded people who are there for the same reason as you. 

Make sure that before you even start that you are mentally and physically comfortable doing it. Go over the rules of the sport, read up on it and see how others are doing it. When you are ready to participate make sure that you are warmed up properly beforehand so that you don’t hurt your muscles. Don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. Speak openly to your parents about how you feel about a sport. Tell them whenever you want to stop and try something different. If your school doesn’t offer an activity that you are interested in, try to join a club or find a private instructor.

There is plenty of time to become a sports hero. Do not overdo it.

It is very important for you to be exposed to healthy competition because it teaches purposefulness, perseverance, stress management and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, there is a lot of pressure from parents and teachers on children to practice too early and too seriously for competitions. This can have a negative impact on you when you are driven to extremes. It can take away all the fun of that activity and possibly deter you. Excessive intensive exercise may interfere with your growth and have severe side effects. When you push yourself too hard it will interfere with your energy levels, sleeping patterns and mood. The exercise will no longer be beneficial for your brain and your academics. When you begin to use supplements and prohibited substances to help your progress it becomes very dangerous. If you are unsure of any form of exercise or substances, you should get a professional’s opinion. “Moderation” is an important concept to consider when working out your exercise routine.



We aim to get young people interested in physical exercise through this article and to encourage and inspire them to practice a sport. We hope that this article opened your eyes to the wonderful benefits of exercise on the brain and how it can improve your academics. Let us know what your favourite exercise and sport activities are. If you know someone that is passionate about exercise and sports please share this article with him or her.


Monday, 23 July 2018

Tips to boost your confidence after failing a test.

By now you would have received your mid-year exam results. Perhaps you failed a test… How do you deal with it?



“Everyone else was staring at me in class as I got my exam paper back. Oh no, the horrendous figures in red ink circled a hundred times over. How on earth did this happen? What will my parents say?”

So you failed an exam...

That is unfortunate. It really is. We understand the feeling. Trust us, you may feel like you are alone, but everyone has failed at something before. Things will be alright soon enough.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill. This inspiring quote from Churchill holds very true. It refers to the fact that success isn’t something that is obtained only once and will last forever. Just because you have succeeded before (such as passing a previous exam) doesn’t guarantee success in the future. You constantly have to work at it. Success is a continuous process. Churchill also makes it clear that failing doesn’t mean your final downfall. Even though you feel incredibly low and dejected right now, it doesn’t mean that you will always feel so low. You have the option to rise again. As long as you are alive and have the will to try again you have a chance to succeed. You only have to find the courage within yourself.


In this article we will discuss the following steps how you should proceed after failing an exam:


1. Accept that you cannot change the outcome. Move on.

2. Analyse what went wrong.

3. Consider alternative study methods.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

5. Don’t give up on your dreams.

6. Set new goals.

7. Speak openly to your parents about it.

8. Make an appointment with your teachers.

9. Get help and support.


1. Accept that you cannot change the outcome. Move on.

As hard as you may wish for a miracle to change your marks, it most likely won’t be happening. After all, it won’t be right. You did fail. It is hard to hear the truth, but you cannot argue with facts. You didn’t know the answers. You didn’t study early on. You didn’t study hard enough. Your mind went blank when taking the exam. That graph threw you off and you got mixed up. When you turned the page it got even worse…

It happened. It is in the past. Accept it. Move on. 

Feeling bad isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It is good to feel a little bit disappointed in yourself, because it shows that you care. You care about your grades, because you want to be successful in life. You have a standard to uphold. You have dreams and aspirations. You want to finish school, have the option to apply to study at a college or university and have a successful career in the future. However, if you are going to fret about it forever, these feelings will intensify. Your mind will make you feel worse and worse – far worse than actually is necessary. Don’t allow fear to paralyse you. Don’t accept that this is your fate from now on. You aren’t stupid or a lesser human being. There will be more exams to prove yourself and everyone else wrong. Just start working on it.

2. Analyse what went wrong.

In order to find a solution to any problem you first have to pin point where exactly the problem lies. Break this whole big mess down into smaller chunks. Start putting things together in a logical way. A good way to get started with your analysis is to ask yourself some serious questions. Were you in all of the classes? Did you pay attention in class and make notes? Did you do all of your homework and assignments? Did you ask your teacher or other students for help when you didn’t quite understand the work? Did you start studying soon enough? Did you really work as hard as you think you did? Were your expectations realistic? How did you fare in relation to your other subjects? How often do you fail tests? Was this just a fluke or do you see a pattern forming? Do you have any health issues or other troubles related to (or even unrelated to) school? How are things at your home? Be honest with yourself about it. Many factors can have an influence on the outcome of your exam. Even the most formidable students that give their best throughout the entire term can fail miserably in an exam due to tremendous amounts of stress and exhaustion. See if you can find solutions to some of these issues. The solution may be simpler than you think. 

3. Consider alternative study methods.

Everyone is unique, therefore everyone will learn and remember things differently. Some people learn faster than others. Some are oriented towards analytics or theory, others prefer a hands-on, practical approach. Some people have to see concepts represented visually in from of them – otherwise all of the words on paper are just useless letters. We all have our interests and strengths. This however doesn’t mean that you cannot learn new skills or expand your knowledge in other areas. You only have to find a way for yourself to be able to do that.

Just because your teacher or parents expect you to sit quietly in your room in front of a textbook for hours on end doesn’t necessarily mean that they are correct, or to be more accurate, that it is the correct study method for you. You are advised to adjust your study method according to your own personality and needs. You may even want to adjust that slightly according to each subject. Read our blog article ‘Find a learning style that best suits you’ for a detailed description on some of the best study methods.

Tip: It is worthy to note that it doesn’t matter which method of studying you choose – only the final marks. However, you should definitely consider going through practice exam papers before an exam. Knowing the work is one thing, but you also have to know proper exam technique. Practice exam papers will ensure that you are fully prepared for an exam and know how to answer the questions in the manner that is expected of you. For details on our exemplar exam papers please visit our website.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

The best way to know exactly what it is that you have done wrong in that specific exam is to write it again. Work through every question and see whether you are making the same mistakes or are you finally seeing improvement? Do you fully grasp what you have done wrong? Make notes to yourself. Are there any potential traps that you should be on the lookout for in the future? 

Tip: Work out similar questions to get even more practice.

5. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Stay positive. You failed an exam, not at life. You still have your whole life in front of you. The year hasn’t even ended. You can still get a decent year-end mark if you start working harder from now on. Remind yourself that you aren’t the only person that has failed before. 

Some of the greatest minds have failed on their way to success. Examples include:


Albert Einstein

German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein is arguably one of the most prolific scientists to grace this earth. He won a Nobel Prize and was named person of the 20th century by Time magazine. He is the embodiment of intelligence. Yet, he was thought to be mentally handicapped as a child, since he only started speaking at age four and reading at age seven. Luckily he didn’t let that stop him. Can you imagine what a loss it would have been for the world if he allowed the opinions of others prevent him from living up to his full potential?

Henry Ford

Henry Ford is known as the mastermind behind the one of the most successful automotive companies in the world. Ford revolutionized the automobile industry. He made automobiles a household standard, he pioneered the ‘assembly line’ and sold 17 million units of his Model T. What many don’t know is that before his success Ford had failed twice – which resulted both times in bankruptcy. Can you imagine a world without cars in daily use? Had he given up prematurely our lives would have looked much different today.

Walt Disney

The story behind the man who brought us the most fantastical cartoon creations such as Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, Bambi, other incredible stories, as well as Disney Land, isn’t without failure. He was fired from his job at the Kansas City Star paper, because they believed he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. His first business also ended in bankruptcy. For most a childhood without Disney’s classics would have been a dull one.

Bill Gates

The creator of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men in the world had to work incredibly hard, before reaching success. His first business was closed down after the data in the machine, ‘Traf-O-Data’, failed during a presentation for a Seattle County traffic employee. Eventually his persistence lead to him to start up Microsoft, which revolutionized the personal computing marketplace.

Steven Spielberg

American film director and producer Steven Spielberg’s films has grossed more than $9 billion. He has also won three Academy Awards. However, before his success the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts rejected his applications twice! Eventually they tried to correct their mistake by erecting a building in his honour.

JK Rowling

The author of the famous Harry Potter series sold 120 million copies of her first book alone, and estimated to have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide in total. Later the entire Harry Potter series was adapted to film. It is hard to imagine her life was once very different than the fairy-tale it has turned out to be today. Before her success she was a struggling to make it work as a single, divorced mother living on welfare while studying. She wrote her first novel during her breaks. She was also rejected many times before her work was finally published for the first time. Fortunately, persistence can earn you a place as one of the bestselling fiction authors of all time. Not too bad.


Now that you’ve seen it is possible to make a huge success of your life after facing many challenges and failures, I guess the least you can do is try again. 

6. Set new goals.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and scared that you won’t succeed next time you write your exams, take a step back and rethink your approach. If you solidly failed your exam try to at least past the next one – you don’t have to become a straight-A student. For most children it would be setting the bench mark a bit too high. At least it won’t happen overnight. Try to improve over the course of the next six months. Work diligently on your skills every day. The key is consistency. Don’t work so hard that you burn out before the exams. Set up a schedule and goals. Work on specific topics so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by everything at once. Reward yourself for your improvement. This will help you keep your focus.

7. Speak openly to your parents about it.

The last thing you should do is try to hide your marks from your parents. Be open about it. They will eventually find out about it when they see your report card or at parent’s evening. Even if they don’t hear about it you shouldn’t hide it from them. Make an appointment to talk with them. They will perhaps be a bit upset when they first hear about it, but only because they want you to do well. They won’t love you any less because of it. When you are open about what happened they are put into the position to help you. They can try to help you with your studies during their spare time, speak with your teacher, get extra study resources or arrange a weekly tutor for you. Your parents can take you to an optometrist to do an eye test or to any other medical professional or mental health professional should you have a condition that prevent you from performing your best.

8. Make an appointment with your teachers.

Your teachers are probably the last people you would want to speak to right now, however you cannot avoid them forever. Make an appointment with them to ask for some feedback on your exam. It may also be a good idea to have your parents present during your meeting. Ask your teachers what they see as particularly problematic areas for you. Ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Teachers can give you some advice on how to prepare effectively for a specific subject and explain to you what they expect from you during an exam. Did you miss out on marks due to negligence or are there bigger concepts that you have no grasp of? Take note that some teachers are stricter than others. Teachers who are fair but don’t give marks easily, usually get children to work a bit harder this way, and ultimately you’ll learn more – which is what you want. The work will actually feel less difficult for you during the final exam, since you will be very well prepared by then. Make an arrangement with them to follow up on your session.

9. Get help and support.

Doing everything on your own is great because there are no distractions from others and it teaches you to be free-thinking and independent. However, you might want to reconsider if you become stuck. Find a study partner. You can learn a lot by seeing how others do things. It is encouraging to see others also work hard and go through the same challenges as you. When you face these challenges together the burden becomes lighter. You can also ask for help from your parents, teachers and tutors. 

If you want to boost your academic performance you should give ASP School Projects a try. We specialise in exam preparation and we have different packages available to help you. 


We trust that these strategies will help you get back on track after hitting a small speed bump along your academic journey. Share these strategies with someone that is in need of some motivation. 


Monday, 16 July 2018

Get back into school-mode without feeling like you need a holiday.

School resumes again. The holidays have been great, but now it is time for a new start to continue your academic journey.




After spending a long while away from school doing all kinds of fun and exciting activities it sure is hard for most children to wrap their heads around the idea of getting back into school mode. Who can blame them? It is obviously a lot more fun for children to play outside, visit friends and to express themselves through their hobbies than to spend hours in a classroom behind textbooks – and a few more doing homework and studying when they get back home. Luckily we have a few ideas that will help them to get comfortable with their academic routine again.


In this article we will discuss the following back to school tips:


1. Take it easy, one day at a time.

2. Catch up with friends.

3. Get into a routine.

4. Plan ahead with a customised calendar.

5. Become friendly with teachers.



1. Take it easy, one day at a time.

Classes, homework assignments and other commitments related to school can get overwhelming pretty quickly. While it is definitely a good idea to be prepared for your classes and start working from day one you shouldn’t stress yourself out about it. The first few days are always somewhat disorganised. It is quite normal – even teachers are still finding their way back to their regular routines. Don’t throw yourself into the deep end from day one. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Pacing yourself is crucial if you want to win this academic race. You don’t want to burn out during the first week. When you go from having almost zero stress to high levels of stress in such a small span of time, you won’t allow your body to adjust to the heavy workload. Your immune system can weaken and you stand a chance to get ill. You won’t be able to function properly and will almost certainly fall behind schedule, which will only add to your stress for the rest of the school term.

2. Catch up with friends.

Chances are that you have spent a ton of time with your friends during the holiday. Maybe you have taken the time to visit friends from other schools that you don’t see very often or maybe you have made some new friends this holiday. Take the time to reconnect with everyone else that you haven’t seen during your break. They will be happy to see you. When you see familiar faces at school your brain will automatically make the connection that you are here at school to learn and so are they. Remember that they go through the same emotions of uncertainty and reluctance to be back. At least that is something you already have in common! Tell them about your holiday and ask them about theirs. Being on good terms with your peers is never a bad thing. You may have to ask them a favour later during the term. This also gives you an opportunity to find a study buddy. Good friends won’t only benefit your social life, but can also help you to improve your grades. Look for people who are hard-working that you can relate to. You don’t have to find the smartest person in the room. Just someone who is dedicated and pleasant to be around with. Things will get tough sooner or later, and it will definitely help to have someone around that is going through the same challenges as you. They’ll need the support just as much as you do. After all, that’s what friends are there for.

3. Get into a routine.

During the holidays routine is not a priority for most. Children like to sleep in a bit later and also go to bed well beyond their regular bedtime. Almost everything is disrupted… Eating habits, exercise schedules and more. Having a routine set out will instantly help when you are trying to readjust to your class schedules and extracurricular activities. Set your alarm clock to wake up at a specific time every day and also for when you have to get ready for bed. Get into the habit of planning out your meals and eating at regular times. It will also definitely help to pack your school bag and get your clothes ready the night before. You don’t want to wake up the morning on time and still be late for school because you couldn’t find anything.

4. Plan ahead with a customised calendar.

Along with getting into a routine, it will help if you plan out your day, week and month. This will help you to keep up with your routine and manage your time better. We have an entire article titled ‘Four tips to help you set up a schedule for a successful school year' which will help you set up a schedule that will suit your needs. Remember everyone is different.

Tip: Seeing a math test coming up in a stylish daily planner will definitely make it feel uninspiring. You will feel more positive if everything is organised and neat. Just don’t spend more hours decorating the pages of your planner instead of actually finishing your assignments.

5. Become friendly with teachers.

Every child has a favourite teacher. You give your best in their class; you are always on time and your homework is always completed to the best of your abilities. Some teachers you like better than others and unfortunately there are also one or two teachers who seem to give you a hard time even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Teachers influence your dedication toward their subjects as well as your grades. You are only human. Your emotions sometimes get in the way and you don’t think clearly. You shouldn’t allow your performance and dedication to be influenced as much by the personality of a teacher. It doesn’t help that you get a distinction in one subject and fail the rest. It means that you won’t develop your mind in crucial all areas, and unfortunately miss out on an awful lot. Remember that teachers are also going through personal issues. If they are having a bad day just brush it off. Don’t let other children influence you into thinking that they are the worst ever. Just maintain a friendly and professional teacher-student relationship. Be friendly and polite to every teacher. Not only is it good manners to show them respect, but they are there to teach you. Education is valuable. Teachers will be more likely to help you out if you struggle with something or give you a simple exam tip if you are friendly with them and work hard in their class. They will notice. Don’t be a bootlicker though. They, as well as other students, will notice that too.


We trust that these tips will help you get back into school mode. Let us know if you have any other ideas for setting yourself up for a great school term.


Monday, 9 July 2018

How to communicate the right way with your teen.

Take the time to catch up with your teen, they might be willing to talk more easily now that they have a break.




Everyone is unique. Teenagers are no different. In fact, they are arguably more “unique” compared to other age groups. I bet at times you as a parent have felt like you don’t even know where they’ve come from. They are trying out strange hairstyles and have very unusual fashion choices. They can be over emotional or show no emotion at all. They can be very competitive or couldn’t care less. They challenge authority and act like the whole universe revolves around them. For some teenagers puberty and high school can be the embodiment of hell on earth. Others handle it with poise and grace – they feel right at home. The reason is because during this time their bodies undergo tremendous change. Their senses are heightened. They have to start thinking for themselves, find their identity and assert their own independence. This can be very overwhelming for them, especially if paired with all of the stresses they have – from their own expectations, peers, love interests, schoolwork and extracurricular activities. The way teenage girls develop, act, think and respond will also differ vastly compared to teenage boys. You can further categorise each in different groups and sub-groups. There truly isn’t a single recipe with easy steps for success with teens. All you can do as a parent is to love them unconditionally. Let them know that you are there for them and will support them in any way they need it. The key is communication.


In this article we will discuss the following ways you can communicate with your teen:

1. Schedule an appropriate time and place to talk.

2. Get a bite to eat before you talk.

3. Listen, not lecture.

4. Show interest in them.

5. Be attentive to their behaviour.

6. Assess the circumstances at your home.

7. Allow them to grow into the person they were meant to be.

8. Show that you trust them.

9. Get your emotions under control.

10. Do things together regularly.

11. Have follow-up conversations.



1. Schedule an appropriate time and place to talk.

When you schedule a meeting time with your teen it gives both of you the necessary time to prepare mentally for what you want to discuss. Make sure that you select a time and date that will suit you both. Ensure that you have set out enough time. You don’t want to start a conversation and then have to leave in the middle of it to go to a meeting. Select a location that is familiar and/or inviting to you both. The location shouldn’t be too noisy and/or have many distractions, but it also shouldn’t feel sterile or daunting like an interrogation room. Options can include the living room, garden patio, coffee shop or even go for a walk in the park together.
Tip: Make sure that no cell phones are present – including yours.

2. Get a bite to eat before you talk.

Don’t start your conversation right off the bat. Get something to eat first. Remember, you are on a special date with your precious son or daughter. Teenagers can be incredibly hungry since they grow so fast – especially boys. When they are hungry, they are more irritable and less likely to be in the mood for any conversation at all. When they enjoy a nice meal, they will feel relaxed and their blood sugar will become stabilised – which is crucial to have an engaging conversation with them. When you eat together it forces eye contact, which will naturally lead to informal conversation. It is important to regularly share meals with them. Children that can talk with their parents about everyday things at the dinner table will be more likely to open up towards their parents when it comes to harder topics. For more details on the importance of having a meal together as a family read section number seven, titled ‘Nothing brings people together like good food’ in our blog article “Suggestions on how to build trust, relationship and respect with your child”.

3. Listen, not lecture.

Teenagers can be very selective with whom they share information and with whom they don’t. They can speak freely on the phone or via text message with their friends about all kinds of topics, but when you come into the picture they may not be as forthcoming. This may be because they aren’t entirely comfortable to speak their mind in front of you. It is advised to allow them to do much of the talking. Just listen to what they have to say. Thomas Edison said: “We have but two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak.” When they start a conversation organically with you they will be more likely to share personal details about themselves. If they feel pressured to talk they will likely not have an honest and open conversation with you. 

If your child doesn’t want to talk about personal matters immediately you should respect that. Start the conversation by asking easy questions, such as whether they enjoyed the meal you just had. Ask them to tell you about their day. Tell them a bit about yours. Asking too many direct and personal questions might scare them off. When they make seemingly casual comments about what happened during the day it can be their way of reaching out. Pay close attention. Allow them to tell you more about it out of their free will. Don’t try to force anything out of them.

After you have made some small talk you should raise a short list of points that you would like to discuss with them. Having a list of points will allow you to keep track of what it is you would like to discuss and therefore avoid miscommunication. Remember, the slightest bit of unintentional harsh criticism from your side can throw them off completely and cause them to shut down. Choose your words and your tone of voice carefully. You won’t keep their attention if you lecture them for hours on end. Worse, you won’t find out how they feel or see things. Allow them appropriate time to process each point and to give a response.

4. Show interest in them.

You are having a conversation with your teen, because you care about him/her. Show them that you are interested in their wellbeing and happiness. Ask them what their dreams and goals are. If they play sports, ask them when their next game is and whether you can come and watch it. If they are learning a musical instrument ask them to perform for you sometime. Yes, even if it means that you will be sitting through a loud guitar jamming session! Offer to help them out with schoolwork, should they need any. If you show interest in their life they will most likely reveal more about themselves to you. You never know. Your big rugby star son may have a different side to him. Maybe he surprises you with a talent for drawing that you weren’t even aware of. Maybe your daughter wasn’t hiding illegal substances from you, only the novel she has been secretly writing in her spare time. Understanding what their interests and hobbies are will help you to understand them a little bit better.

5. Be attentive to their behaviour.

Teenagers go through many changes during this period of their lives. Their bodies change. They try to find their own identity and assert their own independence. They no longer are the small kids they used to be only a short while back.

Don’t criticise their new physical appearance. Teenagers can be very self-conscious. Allow them time to grow into their bodies. They have yet to adjust. They have to find their correct posture. Your boy’s voice is now that of a man’s. He will experiment with new ways to speak with his deeper voice. If it does sound a bit odd don’t make him feel uncomfortable. Teens will have their first crush and not know exactly what to do with these feelings. They might temporarily develop some odd habits. It is quite natural. They will eventually grow out of it and become comfortable with who they are. All you can do as a parent is be there for them and show them love and support. Make sure that they are healthy and live a balanced lifestyle. Talk to them about some of these changes and let them know that everything will be alright in the end.

However, if you find that their behaviour changes erratically to the point that you become concerned for their health and safety it is advised to step in. If you see that their energy levels, eating- and sleeping patterns, moods and motivational drive change drastically – so much that it borders on abnormality, you should have to discuss the delicate issue with them. Raise your concerns with love. Don’t be judgemental. Get their permission to take them to see a medical specialist / mental health professional.

6. Assess the circumstances at your home.

Many parents try to downplay or diminish the feelings of teenagers, because they believe that teenagers live in a “safe” environment and don’t know an awful lot about the “real world”. In other words paying bills and taxes, having their own business or work stress, raising kids and running a household. Yes, the death of a celebrity will likely affect them more than it will affect you. Yes, they care more about the release of the latest iPhone than what is necessary. Yes, a friend that didn’t greet them at a party will feel like a stab in the heart Yes, next week they will have forgotten all about it... 

The truth is that even if teenagers don’t completely comprehend the whole world, their entire world is you, their home, their family, their neighbourhood, their school, and their friends. If something is out of place there, they definitely feel it. The life of a modern teenager is far from “safe”. They deal with a lot of pressure from within these “safe” communities. That is why you have to assess the circumstances at your home and surroundings. Unfortunately parents split up. One parent loses their job or has to work in another country. Perhaps a sibling unexpectedly got an unusual health condition.

When changes occur that can be disrupting to them, you have to make a point of talking to them about it. Be transparent and let them know that these uncertainties also affect you, but you are in it together. You will make it through. Ask them how they feel about it and how they are coping. Some children are much tougher than others. Issues that you may not have been aware of can also come to light when you discuss the living conditions with them. If there is anything at your home that can cause your children distress, you should try to address it or put a plan into action to improve it. That way you will have a strong and lasting relationship. You want your children to visit your home after they leave school and find a job.

7. Allow them to grow into the person they were meant to be.

The best way to get to know your child is when they are comfortable enough to be themselves around you. There should obviously be parent-child boundaries, but you won’t have a good relationship with them if they fear you or are afraid that they might disappoint you. As a parent you should offer them guidance and support, but you should give them the freedom to explore and find out things for themselves. Allow them to make mistakes and to learn from their mistakes. Let them grow into their own person, not your version of them. For example, you may want your son to take over the family business one day, but he will be a far better software developer than a lawyer. Allow him to follow his dreams. You have had your turn. Your children will become successful and happy adults only if they know who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Praise them for their talents and uniqueness.

8. Show that you trust them.

Growing up is all about learning and experimentation. Teenagers want to be independent. They want to make their own decisions. They want to test their own abilities. They want to show you that they are capable of taking care of themselves. As a parent you have to allow your children to take some responsibility. It can be something small such as taking care of younger siblings, cooking dinner or mowing the lawn. It can also be something bigger, such as going to a party or dating or learning how to drive a car. It is healthy for them. Sometimes the timing is just perfect for them; other times they will fail. Unfortunately, that is life. By encouraging your children to try out different things you will win their trust. It shows that you have faith in them. It will boost their confidence. Inform them of what you expect of them and set some rules and boundaries before letting them run wild.

9. Get your emotions under control.

Things can quickly get out of hand when you are trying to reason with an over emotional teen with a hot temper. Remember, you are the parent and they are the child. You have had time to learn how to control your emotions. They haven’t. Don’t lose your cool when they do. It is incredibly easy to say things that both of you will regret later if you are upset and aren’t thinking clearly. Take a break if the conversation turns into a heated argument. You love your children - that is why you want a relationship with them that can last a lifetime. Don’t try to solve everything in one day. Give them time to process everything that you have just said. You should too.

10. Do things together regularly.

It is important that you and your child have deep conversations from time to time, but it doesn’t mean that you should stop there. You should communicate regularly. Talk about things that aren’t too personal. The easiest way to do that is if you do things together. It can include cooking, watching movies, playing games or hiking. By bonding with your child you win their trust. If you share mutual interests, discuss a possible project that the two of you can do together in the future. You should also be open to learn new things. Try to involve your teen in your world and get involved in his/hers.

11. Have follow-up conversations.

You can’t just have one deep conversation and expect the entire world to change. Change takes time. You have to allow them time to reflect on the things you have said. You should also reflect on the comments they have made. Schedule another time and date with your teen to follow up on your previous session. If your first approach worked, then you can try to do it the same way. If it did not, try a different approach. You can try a new location or allow them to choose this time. When you are having your next conversation make sure you give him/her feedback on their performance or behaviour. Praise them for the things which you see they have been working on to improve. Allow them to also give you feedback.



We sincerely hope that these tips will help you improve the communication between you and your teenage child. Let us know if you have any other techniques that have helped you build better relationships with him/her.


Monday, 2 July 2018

Suggestions on how to build trust, relationship and respect with your child.


During the school holiday life is usually calmer. This is a great opportunity to connect with your kids.




Even though you may love the people closest to you with all your heart, can relationships with them be a lot of work. Sometimes you merely don’t spend enough time with each other, because there simply isn’t a second to spare. On the other hand, you can spend an entire day in someone’s presence and be so occupied with everything else that at the end of the day you haven’t had a single constructive conversation with each other. You work, you have to attend meetings, get your children to school on time because they write exams... You also have to get on that treadmill - something you’ve been putting off for too long. At some point during the day you have to get groceries and decide what to make for dinner…

Does it sound familiar? Of course it does!
To be honest, it is quite the norm in every modern household. There is nothing wrong with being busy. Unfortunately, it is unhealthy when these acts become more important than the people. When family relationships are neglected it is usually the children that feels disconnected from you the most. You may not immediately realise how it affects them, since they have friends and take part in extracurricular activities, but sooner or later the cracks will start to appear. Unfortunately it can also impact their performance in school.

Children crave your attention, love and respect. That is why it is important to speak with them and let them know that you care about them during these times. Luckily life has its cycles and things won’t always be like this every day. There is no better time than to spend a little bit of quality time with your children during the school holidays. They will be less stressed and more likely to talk openly with you.


In this article we will discuss 10 ways you can connect with your children:

 

1. Tell them how much you love them.

2. Understand where you are at in your relationship.

3. Listen attentively and speak only when spoken to.

4. Understand what makes your children “tick”.

5. Make their dreams your own.

6. Plan a special day for your children.

7. Nothing brings people together like good food.

8. Have a family game day/night.

9. Meet their friends.

10. Find your inner-child.



1. Tell them how much you love them.


‘I love you.” These 3 simple words are very obvious, but probably the most import words any parent can say to their child. Telling your children in words that you love them is a verbal confirmation that you care. Children that feel loved by their parents will have a strong and lasting relationship with them, because they will feel safe and secure in their presence. This is very important as they will be open and forthcoming when things are going well or not so well in their lives. Children that have a strong bond with their parents will tell them when they are being bullied or in harm. It is crucial to win your children’s trust and let them know that you are there for them. Unconditional love from a parent also directly affects children’s confidence, self-esteem, health and overall happiness. A study conducted by Duke UniversityMedical School that involved 500 people over a span of 30+ years found that when mothers displayed affection toward their children from infancy, they grew up to into adults that were happier, less anxious and less likely to display psychosomatic symptoms. The researchers concluded that oxytocin, a chemical secreted by the brain during moments of closeness between parent and child, is responsible for the positive effects. Because of this, it is not only advised to tell your children you love them, but to really show it.


2. Understand where you are at in your relationship.


In order to have a great relationship with your children, you have to take a step back and analyse where you are currently at. Do you enjoy spending quality time together regularly? Do you take part in fun activities and have meaningful conversations? Do you hardly see each other and speak only occasionally? Do they behave differently when they are around you? There are many determining factors (such as their age, household arrangement, your work schedule, personalities, mutual interests etc.) that influence the type of relationship and bond you and your children have. It also depends from child to child. Sometimes kids and teenagers can be difficult to understand. Some might seem distant no matter what you do. Don’t press them too hard when they don’t open up immediately. You should never give up on them. Let them know you are there and love them dearly. They will eventually get around to asking your advice should they need it. If they don’t behave properly you have to let them know that you discipline them because you love them. Be transparent about your actions and open your heart to them. Ask them what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. Aim to make some changes if it is necessary. They will eventually act the same toward you.


3. Listen attentively and speak only when spoken to.


For some children it might be a big deal to say something about how they truly feel. It is not because they don’t trust you. It may simply be because they are still unsure about their own thoughts and feelings. Every person is unique and therefore every relationship is unique. Just as soon as you think you understand someone you understand nothing about them at all. The reason is because everyone changes. You should know. You aren’t the same person now as when you were their age; when you went to university; got married or when they were born. You grow as a person with the passing of time. Children change especially. They literally transform right in front of your eyes. They don’t just change physically, but mentally also. Sometimes these experiences can be uncomfortable. None the less. They learn new things every day and experience many emotions as they go through life. You have gone through many growth processes and have learned how to cope with life, but remember that everything is new to them.

Encourage them to tell you about what they learned in class. You may even learn something new. Encourage them to tell jokes or sing out loud. Ask them questions. When they really want to talk to someone about their feelings they would recognise you and their home as a safe environment. Allow them to speak and think for themselves. Often times they already know what the next steps are to solve a problem, they just need to verbalise their plan of action. They also want confirmation that you are standing right behind them and will catch them when they fall. Use your discretion as a parent when to intervene and when to stand back. Mistakes can also be good, because they learn from it.

If you see that they want to talk to you, make a special appointment with them. Take a few moments out of your day to listen to what they have to say. They will appreciate it. Also, remember that it takes time to build trust and relationship. You will probably need more than one sitting to help them figure things out. You shouldn’t just give your opinion or an ultimatum and walk away - especially not with rebellious teens. Allow them to hear your advice and come to their own conclusions. Tell them that you support them and are proud of them.


4. Understand what makes your children “tick”.


Every child is unique. This means that even if you share DNA, you can differ vastly from your each other – physically, mentally and/or emotionally. It is your responsibility as a parent to find out what makes them “tick”. What interests, viewpoints and personality traits do you share, and how do you differ? Start to build a relationship with them from commonalities and work your way up to the areas that are foreign to you. The easiest way to find out how different or alike you are is to simply try out different things together. Open your children’s eyes to see the world. Help them explore and discover new things. Visit places and go to events. Take note on what they like and what not. Do something together that is outside both of your comfort zones. This will show your child that you are open to new things.

Another great way to help them discover things that can potentially makes them “tick” is to read together about a number of different topics. Read bedtime stories, the news, history books etc. It is the safest and cheapest way to “travel” with your mind to different places. Discuss the things you read afterward.

It is important to love your child unconditionally even if you don’t always think alike or understand them. Just let them know that you care about the things that make them happy, because if they are happy so are you.


5. Make their dreams your own.


“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ~ Christopher Reeve. Dreams are precious. It is important for children to be allowed to dream up things that are bigger than all of us. The dreams that are formed in a young child’s mind can grow into a powerful desire to improve our lives. Dreams influence our thoughts, the tools we use, the architecture we build and ultimately the way we shape our world. As a parent you should always encourage your children to use their imagination; to dream up fantastical things and never to lose their enthusiasm for the discovering of new things. It is far more advisable to ask your children what difference they would like to make in the world, or what problem they would like to solve, than to ask them what occupation they want to have when they grow up. Children’s minds won’t expand if they are forced to be boxed in and only learn and think in a certain way that is expected of them.

Less than 60 years ago it would have seem an impossible occupation to become an astronaut. Fortunately dreamers have set out to go into space. With incredibly hard work and research in astronomy, physics, aerodynamics, engineering, and computer fields they have actually made that dream a reality. On April 12, 1961, Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space. The lesson to take way is that it is important to understand your child. Support them in everything they do, no matter how absurd it sounds right now. They might just overcome the impossible! You don’t have to spend all of your money, time and energy on their “extravagant” projects, but it will be enough for them to know that you support them. Buy some books for them on a particular topic that fascinates them. Try to find a tutor or coach to help them get on track.


6. Plan a special day for your children.


There is nothing more fun and rewarding than to spend a day with your children. We know, it isn’t always possible with a demanding work schedule, but every once in a while you have to schedule a time and date with them. Chances are you both need some time off and to reconnect. Ask them in advance where they would like to go. If you know them really well you can surprise them. Just make sure they have some free time. The day and activity will depend entirely on you and your child. It can be as adventurous or relaxing as you want it to be. You have a wealth of options to choose from in our blog article “18Interesting places for South African learners to visit during the schoolholidays”.


7. Nothing brings people together like good food.


There is certainly a lot of truth in the saying “Good food brings people together”. Everyone has to eat, so why not make something special of it? Everyone can help out in the kitchen. Making a delicious meal together is a lot of fun. The scents, aromas and textures of food and spices can be very therapeutic. Everyone will start to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Enjoy your meal together at the dinner table – not in front of the TV. Sitting down at the table encourages eye contact, which leads to conversation. Ask your children how their day was and tell them about yours. Discuss different topics. Chef John Besh said it best: “Growing up, I learned life’s important lessons at the dinner table”.


8. Have a family game day/night.


Everyone loves a good game. Games are an excellent choice to start building relationship with your children. Games should be light-hearted, playful and relieve stress. When you play games with your children you will learn more about their personalities. Games also allow you the opportunity to teach new things to your children, including valuable life-lessons. Competition is good - the whole purpose of games is to encourage the players to perform their best, but try to keep destructive rivalry to a minimum – especially between siblings.

Ideas for games include:
  • Board games such as Chess, Monopoly, 30 Seconds, Scrabble etc.
  • Card games such as Uno
  • Hide and Seek
  • Ball games such as soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, netball, basketball etc.
  • Wrestling
  • Imaginative play
  • Pillow fights



9. Meet their friends.


Meeting your child’s friends can be a great way for you to learn more about your own child. Every child should have at least one friend and try to make more friends. As a parent you are encouraged to take interest in their friends. Friendships help your own child learn more about relationships and other people. Let your child know that his or her friends are welcome in your house. Review some “house rules” beforehand. Make it known to your child, the friend and his or her parent/guardian that you will be present. Make it an enjoyable experience for their friends. Everyone should spend some quality time together. You can also choose to take your child and their friends (with permission of their parents) to a fun activity, such as seeing a movie or having an ice-cream. You will soon find out what their mutual interests are and or why they are friends. By reaching out to your children’s friends, they will realise that you care about them.


10. Find your inner-child.


The best way to understand your child is to reflect back to the time when you were young. Remember what it meant to you to gaze at the stars; what it meant to wander around in amazement at the zoo; what it felt like running as fast as you can down the street; what it meant to win your first gold medal... Once you have been exactly where they are now. Sure, the world is slightly different now compared to what it might have been then, but the core of what it means to be a child will always remain the same. All children are filled with hope and wonderment - sometimes even a little bit of harmless mischief, but they will always have the same need for love and acceptance from a parent.


Teach your children the important lessons you have learned along the way. Have the relationship with your children that you have had or wanted to have with your parents as a child. Time flies by incredibly fast. Don’t allow life’s unpredictability and demands interfere with your relationships in a way that you become strangers to each other. If you do, this wonderful opportunity to have a great, meaningful and lasting relationship with your children will pass you by. Once your relationships are no longer there, everything else that you’ve been working for won’t matter much in anyway. Take this holiday to (re)connect with them and to get to know them better – even if you see them every day. You won’t regret it.

Let us know how you will be spending quality time with your children.