Success at School, Success at Home

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With school graduation around the corner we’ll be celebrating our little ones’ success at school. It’s a festive time, although quite often, it’s tricky achieving equal ‘success’ at home…

Being a working-parent is the reality for the present generation. Working long hours every day, and coming home to that ‘dreaded hour’ when the little ones are hungry, crying, seeking attention – or all the above; is a daily struggle. How do you transform this ‘dreaded hour,’ into a time where you spend quality time with your little ones, and ensure the success of school is carried over to success at home?

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Firstly, try to spend 2 – 5 minutes in your car, before getting out to greet your children. Use this time to process your day and to take deep breaths (as many as you need). On entering your home, you’ll need the renewed energy; and ridding yourself of the days’ stress before you enter your home will allow you the grace, and patience to listen to your child speak about their day.

Secondly, put away all technology. It’s the ideal time to catch-up on the latest news, or messages/ emails that you missed during that day, but turning-off your devices sends a clear message to your child that, “I am here,” and “I am available to listen.” With this attitude you’ll find that you have your child’s attention. This will in turn, build-up their self-esteem and make them feel worthy and important. A child’s school performance will often suffer when experiencing emotional difficulty, or the inability to express themselves. This is the perfect time to listen to your child and offer them your attention; as it’s important to be present and show your little one support at home.

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Listen, listen, listen. Your child has spent the entire day learning new concepts, developing a new skill, or having fun with a friend. They’ve had a stimulating day (many times overstimulating), and by the end of the day they need to de-brief in their safe environment. An introverted child might have reservations speaking about their feelings. A helpful way to encourage your child to speak about their day is with hand-puppets.

Allow your children to be in the kitchen with you while you cook. Allocate small tasks: sieving, stirring, seasoning, plating; to them to make them feel included, needed, and cared for. Side-by-side, or parallel play where parent and child are engaged in the same activity (parent preparing food for family, and child mimicking the actions with kitchen-themed toys), is great fun for both parent and child. Dramatic play in the kitchen encourages a sense of bonding between parent and child, as well as encourages a nurturing-nature in children.

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It’s important to remember that parents need structure and planning as much as children do. Planning can avoid feelings of anxiety for both parent and child. Plan what you will serve for dinner to avoid sudden trips to the shops or buying take-away. Children need nutritious meals every day to ensure they have the optimal brain fuel to engage in all the activities expected of them. Snack-times in-between meals are important, and nutritious snacks even more so. Always encourage your child to eat healthy snacks – the best encouragement is your example as a parent.

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With many sunny days ahead, you and your child will be spending lots of time outdoors. Always remember sunscreen (even in the early evening), a hat, and naturally, gardening tools.

Care to get a little crafty? Why not help your little one throw something together with art-sand? Make a Art-Sand Turtle: all you need is non-toxic and dust-free Art-Sand, cardboard (A4, or your desired size), a large sea-shell, non-toxic glue and glitter-glue pens.

Click Arts & Crafts for more supplies and ideas, and remember, loving parents, that success at school will only occur when you have success at home.

Written by

Lauren Albertyn
& Hanli Leeuwner
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School Holidays! Water-wise activities

According to weather predictions, we’re in for a scorcher!

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Are there environmentally-friendly, and educational activities for the whole family this school holiday? We’re happy to report that, yes there are! There are water-parks and water-themed activities across the country that are water-wise, and educational. Check-out our pick of water-wise activities for the entire family, country-wide.

Cape Town / Western Cape

Two Oceans Aquarium:

The Two Oceans Aquarium provides total engagement with oceanic life, from tanks with an incredible variety of sea creatures, to touch pools, watching the giant turtle and penguins being fed, and of course their entertaining and educational puppet shows. Check out their website for operating hours.

Bugz Play Park:

Bugz Play Park in Kraaifontein are all about play. Their motto, “Play. Laugh. Learn.,” along with their themed birthday parties and facilities like the Wave Slide, rowing boats, speed water-slide, Worm Train, horse rides and more –  set them apart. In addition, they’re equipped with a free-play area with a Mud Kitchen, sandpit and splash-pool. Their restaurant, Snack Shack is Halaal-certified, and Bugz Big Bite Restaurant is open 7-days a week.

Water World Strand / World of Adventure Root 44, Stellenbosch:

Open from September to April, Water World Strand will be in full operation this school holiday. They boast a Super Tube, a variety of water-slides, a double kiddies-pool, the Mom and Dad Jacuzzi-pool, Kiddies & Large Adventure dry-play, picnic-areas, a food court, and more.

World of Adventure Root 44 in Stellenbosch boasts similar facilities like it’s sister in Strand, however they’ve thrown in a 30-metre Double Slip ‘n Slide, spray-park, peddle-cart track, and indoor and outdoor Jungle Gyms.

water-652239_1280Water World – Wild Waters Fun Park Plett:

A little way further, the youngest of the three sisters, Water World Plett is equipped with water-slides, a pool-area, mini-golf, trampolines, a picnic-area and oodles of family fun.

Diaz Water Park, Diaz (Mosselbaai):

Open 7-days a week, all year round. Diaz Water Park boasts an indoor heated pool, water-slides, the Lazy River, and ample space to picnic, braai, tan, and grab a bite to eat. They also host birthday parties and various events at an affordable price.

Wilgewandel Holiday Farm, bordering Oudtshoorn:

With a farm-like atmosphere, and a mere 2km from the Cango Caves, Wilgewandel Holiday Farm is picturesque. They host various activities for the whole family, including water-slides, donkey and camel rides, a 100-metre-long Foefie-Slide, pedal cars, rowing boats, and trampolines. For an overnight stay they offer sizeable family rooms.

PE / Eastern Cape

SANCCOB, Table View (CT), Cape St Francis & PE:

At these family-friendly centre’s, children and parents alike are educated about sea birds, such as penguins and pelicans. Families are welcome to volunteer and feed, clean and rehabilitate sea-birds.

McArthur Pool and Leisure Centre (Humewood, PE):

Open 7-days a week from October to April, McArthur Pool and Leisure Centre offers outdoor swimming pools with slides and kiddie’s pools. McArthur’s have full-time security and lifeguards, are equipped for people with disabilities, and have easy access to the beach. In addition, they’re fitted with two restaurants and an adjoining surf shop.

swimming-933217_1280Splash Waterworld Supertubes (Kings Beach, PE):

This super-safe water park is alcohol and glass-free, with rides including Super Tubes, a kiddies speed-slide, Kiddies Stuka, and the Lazy River Ride. There’s thankfully coffee for the caregivers, and snacks & ice-cream for the kids.

Gauteng, and beyond

Tswaing Crater (Soutpan, Soshanguve):

Located north-west of Pretoria, Tswaing Crater was formed more than 220,000 years ago. This half-a-football-field sized crater is surrounded by dense bush and natural vegetation. This site is a must-see for nature enthusiasts, and there are hiking trails of varying lengths. East of the crater lies the Soutpanspruit, which feeds a rare wetland system; home to game, many bird species, and smaller mammals like otters, genets, brown hyenas, civets and steenbok, reptiles and frogs.

Wild Waters Fun Park, Boksburg:

Wild Waters boast a few water-slide monsters, like the Kamikaze and speed-slides, Wave-Pool, Super Tube and Raging Rapids – perfect for the thrill-seekers. Much to every parent’s relief, there are kiddie’s slides and more relaxed activities, as well ample space to throw-out a picnic blanket.

water-park-1631658_1280Valley of Waves at Sun City Resort:

The Valley of Waves needs little introduction. Families travel from across the country to experience the resort and its many attractions. Children under the age-of-3 gain free entry into the Valley, and there’s plenty to eat should the troop become peckish.

Gwen Bali Water World, Bloemfontein:

Gwen Bali has a modest aesthetic that doesn’t compromise its level of fun for the family. They’re fitted with a Super Tube, Kamikaze slide, Lazy River, and a 2-Lane Racer. The water park is alcohol-free, although refreshments are available and guests are welcome to pack a picnic basket too; as there are plenty of shady areas to have a bite to eat.

sunglasses-1284419_1280Warmbaths, A Forever Resort, Limpopo:

Within easy reach of Joburg, Warmbaths is a holiday resort that welcomes day visitors. They’re equipped with a wave-pool, baby swimming pool, pedal-boats, a Foefie-slide, kiddies play-park, the River Ride, Super Tubes and the Hydro & Spa (for exhausted parents). In addition Warmbaths has their own private game reserve.

Durban / KZN

Conservation KZN:

Conservation KZN is something to consider for a family with older children. The whole family can volunteer for a conservancy project in their neighbourhood, teaching the young ones about the importance of conserving water and the environment. Conservation KZN’s current water project is the Dorpspruit Catchment Restoration which began in June of this year, and is scheduled to run until May 2021.

Wild Waves Water Park at Wild Coast Sun (Bizana, Port Edward):

Wild Waves boasts some of the world’s latest rides, including the full-powered Boomeranga, Aqua Loop, SuperBowl and speed slides (see website for more info). For those families in search of something more tranquil, the Lazy River should do the trick. On the plus side, the Kidz Zone is a fun and safe space for the little ones to lose their inhibitions.

water-fight-442257_1280Splash! Waterworld, Amanzimtoti:

Located on Amanzimtoti Main Beach, Splash! Waterworld has 10-water slides for all ages and a monitor on duty at all times. Be sure to check out the Washing Machine ride, as well as the Water Mushroom and River Ride. Their facilities include their family restaurant; Thirsty Whale, the Ice Cream Happiness Station, large recreational pool, a braai-area, heated pools, and they are wheelchair accessible.

Wavepark, Gateway (Durban):

Open from Monday to Sunday, Wavepark is equipped with a Super Tube, water-slides, an inflatable kiddies park, a splash-pad-area, and the “Flowrider,” a ride that simulates waves for surfing.

***If you’re in the Cape Town-area during the school holidays, be sure to check out the Penguin Festival (on National African Penguin’s Day) on 7 October at Boulder’s Beach – where penguins will be released back into their natural habitat.
*City of Cape Town has provided Spray Parks in disadvantaged areas around Cape Town and the Cape Flats, have a look.***

Written by

Lauren Albertyn

 

Little Explorers: the benefits of Outdoor Play

 

Growing up in the city, knee-deep in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, I saw my first forest when I was thirteen. Not to say I didn’t spend hours on end outside as a young child, mesmerised by cloud formations and running through overgrown grass making grasshoppers dance. The outdoors was (and still is) like a siren’s call to me, and I clung to my small slice of nature, refusing to return indoors until the sun had set from my perch on the garage roof. Break-time at school meant playing outside, and playing outside was a tall glass of water compared to the constraints of a classroom – despite the variety of toys available to play with. Marie Willoughby1* asserts that the delights of the outdoors are among the deepest, most passionate joys of childhood.

However, it’s more than being delighted to be outside. The outdoors is nature’s laboratory. There are swings to be swung, ant-mounds to inspect, plants to be watered and flowers (most likely weeds) to be collected and then presented as a gift to mom. The outdoors, for many children, is an invaluable space for learning. It provides opportunities to explore, discover and develop an understanding of the world around them.

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The benefits:

The outdoors offers children unique opportunities for:

  • Experiences with all their senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
  • Physical activities – refines fine motor (writing, pointing, grasping, pinching, holding and reaching), and gross motor skills (swinging, climbing, skipping, sliding, crawling and jumping), improves dexterity, builds muscle and burns off excess energy
  • Increased health – Vitamin-D from the sun improves mood, strengthens bones and immune system; vision is improved and stress levels are reduced; children who have learned how to garden eat more fruit & veg and are more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle later in life
  • Art – building and constructing with sand, water and mud
  • Science – Observations and inspection
  • Mathematics – counting games like hop-scotch and numbered bean bag play
  • Language – communication skills improve, and language activities can be incorporated outside
  • Developing social skills nurturing , communicating, learning how to play together, and learning how to express themselves 
  • Dramatic play – dressing-up, pretend play  children engaged in more imaginative play are more interactive and get along better
  • Improved test results – children whose schools offer an outdoor classroom environment or other forms of environmental education achieve higher results than their peers in standardised tests

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We’re living in an unprecedented age of information and technology. On average, children spend a significant amount of time watching TV, using phones and tablets2*, and playing video/computer games. Young children learn through the type of place or environment they are in. Observing a child watching TV, compared with a child playing outside are two vastly different observations. The child watching TV is engrossed with the cartoon or movie, and often doesn’t move from their seated position (depending on age). The child is mentally content but often physically immobile. While studies have shown a child playing outside is mentally and physically active.

When playing outside children are more uninhibited, which allows them to be more creative. They feel free enough to express themselves and are often louder and more expressive outside because of this. Studies have shown that playing outside increases attention span, and children tend to focus their attention on the activity they’re engaged in; which in turn increases their attention span in the classroom.

As caregivers and custodians of children’s well-being, let’s encourage them to spend more time being little explorers outdoors, than immobile in front of a screen.

 

Written by

Lauren Albertyn

Footnotes:

1*Childcare and child development author and speaker from Barnados Ireland, a children’s charity.
2*Although there’s significant research that supports the incorporation of technology in play.