It is estimated that 60% of the youth in South Africa leave the education system with no official educational certification such as a matric certificate to their name. This is troubling news at best. But what can we do to avoid a similar plight for our own children?

Nip It in the Bud

little girl using purple plastic camera
Keeping a close eye on your child's learning abilities from pre-primary age can pay off in the long run - Unsplash

Learners can display signs of a learning disability at pre-primary level and the sooner a problem can be picked up the sooner it can be fixed. There are plenty of learning strategies and academic support that can be implemented in order to assist little ones. If handled timeously, a learning barrier needn’t ever hamper academic achievement in the later years.

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Creating an Academic Support Plan for Primary School Kids

What we want to avoid is for any children to feel like they are floundering helplessly in the schooling system. Academic struggles can rear their head in the early years of a child’s school career and if these issues aren’t attended to it can seriously hamper academic progress as well as mental and emotional wellbeing.

These challenges in the formative years of a child’s education can often result in them giving up and dropping out before having the opportunity to matriculate.

So how can you fix this problem before it worsens?

Getting to the root of the problem is the first step. In the lower grades a child who is struggling emotionally may actually be showing symptoms of learning issues such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysorthography, dyscalculia or ADHD.

If you suspect that your child may have some form of learning impediment you should feel free to make an appointment to speak to the faculty and staff who are involved in your child’s education to get their input and form a plan.

There are many academic support services that you can make use of in order to provide your child with the right supplemental education to get them back on track. Private tutoring is one of the many options and is a very effective learning aid as each lesson can be individualised according to the need of the learner.

There’s no set rule on how many sessions of tutoring a child may need or how frequently they should attend. It really will vary from one case to the next but your child’s tutor will let you know what they feel is best after spending some time getting to know your youngster and analysing their strengths and weaknesses.

balck and white image of small boy running in open field
Feel free to experiment until you find an academic support program that brings out the best in your kiddo - Unsplash

Nevertheless, a general rule of thumb for children in primary school is that sessions of half an hour are best as kids at this age have a shorter attention span. Perhaps two or three such lessons from their tutors per week will be sufficient.

The regularity of the lessons is perhaps more important than the actual duration. Kids that are falling behind will very easily feel overwhelmed because they’re learning new concepts in school while at the same time needing help to cement older concepts with their private tutors.

That’s why it’s important for learners to have access to their tutors on a regular basis in order to keep their academic skills and knowledge of the coursework up to date. Someone that offers one-on-one tutoring will often naturally take on a mentoring role in a student’s life. This kind of relationship is really valuable for a youngster with waning confidence.

How to Provide Academic Support for High School Learners

If primary school learners fall behind in their school work and don’t get the opportunity to sufficiently reinforce new concepts then it’s bound to have a ripple effect on the rest of their school career.

Sometimes a student will only begin struggling later in high school. It’s always good just to keep a consistent check on your children’s academic performance and catch any weaknesses before they become serious handicaps.

Just as every student is unique, so too will their academic battles be. But there is one factor that seems to have a significant effect on most learners: the transition from primary school to high school. This is a time in a youngsters schooling that can come with a lot of stress and anxiety.

black and white image of pensive boy leaning againts tree
Transitioning from primary to high school can be an uncertain time for most kids which can have a big impact on their academics - Unsplash

The reason for a sudden inability to keep up can stem from so many sources. Simply the onset of puberty can have an impact on a youngsters ability to keep up with their coursework. Other common factors to bear in mind are: bullying, new teachers, social issues with friends etc.

You can help your youngster cope with the new challenges of high school by really getting involved. So before you jump in and begin planning tutoring programs for any subject-area you think your child may need help with, just take a breath and slow down!

You, the parent, are an invaluable academic support tool. Connect with your child daily and show them that you are there for them just the way you were when they were in primary school. Get to know their timetable and chat to them about homework, exams and assignments. And then in time you can seek out professional tutoring.

When you are familiar with your child’s schedule it will also make it easier to arrange tutoring sessions with private home tutors or small-group tutorials. Try to make the schedule as relaxed as possible. It sometimes helps to arrange a subject specific tutorial such as math or science on a day when your child doesn’t have this class at school.

If your youngster has had specific struggles and is anxious about the next grade then make it a priority to organise tutorial services before the new year begins. Your child will be reassured to know they already have a tutoring program in place and they can start the year off with a bang!

You can use this strategy between school terms too. Perhaps your child is showing signs of anxiety due to the oncoming final exams of the fourth term and a little tutoring and mentoring will do them wonders and help them to learn new and effective study skills.

Grades 11 and 12

In a learner’s final or senior years it’s advisable that you ensure they have a good study routine in place. As the workload in grade 11 and 12 increases your child might need some help with their time management.

girl holding scrabble tiles which spell the word senior
Academic support can help to lighten the load of senior high school - Unsplash

These last two years of high school can put a lot of pressure on our youth as they find themselves constantly preparing for important exams. Parents can help by creating a calm and balanced learning environment at home.

Learners will have to hone new skills and learn more effective study habits. This is where study groups and one-on-one tutoring services can really come in handy!

Summer and winter school is the ideal way to give older learners that extra boost they need to be successful in their final years of high school. Not only will learners receive enrichment for particular subject areas but through the tutoring and mentoring that these programs provide, learners can confidently strive for academic excellence.

The summer and winter school initiative is aimed to equip senior students with the necessary learning strategies and study skills that they will need for their finals. Learners are given the opportunity to revise all the coursework for the academic year instead of having to cram and stress before their exams.

However, it’s still worth considering home tutoring or online tutoring services as your child begins the final weeks of test-preparation.

An academic tutor can assist students with very helpful study strategies and answer any last minute questions that may arise.

Still Wondering How Many Tutorial Sessions to Schedule Every Week?

If you’re still unsure of how much time you should be setting aside for after school tutoring then it’s best to discuss this directly with the tutor.

Every subject will probably be handled differently and every tutor will have their own approach. You may find that a math tutor will want to spend less time but more frequently with your child whereas a history tutor may suggest one longer session every two weeks. The main goal should always be what works best for the tutee.

If you’re at a loss of where to provide tutoring for your youngster or if you are nervous about the reliability of online tutoring platforms then Superprof is a wonderful place to begin. Internationally recognised and respected, Superprof has linked up with thousands of academic tutors all over the world.

So no matter the subject or home language of a student, there will be a tutor that ticks all the boxes.

You may want to opt for a one-on-one tutoring session that takes place at home. In this case you could arrange an appointment with the prospective tutor to see if there is a rapport between them and your child as well as to go over the finer details such as their teaching methodologies and your child’s schedule.

If your budding tutee feels more comfortable being tutored online, then this is a very similar option to one-on-one tutoring. The only real difference is that it all takes place virtually. Many kids get tutoring from online tutors because it fits in better with the family schedule and tends to be less expensive.

And then you get the kids that just can’t stand being alone and thrive in group settings, there are plenty of group tutoring options out there too and this can also be a great way to learn new friends as learners spend time with their “study buddies” at the tutoring sessions. It’s also the most economical option as the cost is split between the students.

Remember that most tutors will offer a free trial session which should provide you with peace of mind if you’re still undecided.

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Kyla

Born from a family of creatives, Kyla has a passion for the arts and interior design.