August 2010 Issue 55
Circulation 45 418
gu i d e
p aren t s
a backpacking trip in the school of the world
a father’s role as mentor to his sons
what type of school is best for your child?
bribe tribe are parents buying good behaviour?
As I page through this, our education issue, I am impressed. Our editorial team has gone all out to deliver you a great, no, an amazing read! Our resource this month “education matters” on page 56 will go a long way in helping you decide on the right school for your child. The answer might just surprise you… My daughter had to endure a year of mediocre education, bullying and pure misery, before I realised that the best place for her was the public school down the road. It’s one of the finest examples of public schooling in the country, run by a principal out of the top drawer. Luckily for us, they had one spot open. Overnight our lives were transformed. I wouldn’t have predicted that my daughter would fare better in a public, co-ed environment. Or that she’d learn and gain more in confidence in her current class of 31 than in a smaller class at an independent school. I had read as much as I could about different schooling and learning options and, importantly, had chatted to lots of moms at different schools – plus school secretaries, teachers, and the PR people. In the end, I went with my gut, and it seems that my intuition was right. In an office of parents, the talk often falls to the education of our children. It’s with this in mind that we have tried to give you a launching pad for your own debates regarding the education choices you make for your children. From selecting a pre-, prep- or high school to delving into the mother-tongue debate (see page 22) and tertiary learning options (see page 44), there’s lots of fuel for discussion... I promised you a good read.
PS Welcome to our new readers as we extend our reach by 7 000 homes in the East Rand.
Hunter House P U B L I S H I N G
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a note from lisa
ver to you o readers respond
15 the itch you can’t scratch tips for treating eczema in babies. By Lucille Kemp
13 reader’s blog Liz Fisher on home schooling her sons
16 b orn or bre(a)d? obesity in children is on the rise. Donna Cobban finds out why 42 g rowing up too soon understanding precocious puberty. By Sasha Cuff
22 mind your language Glynis Horning investigates mother-tongue instruction 26 t he bribe tribe bribery or incentive? By Donna Cobban
30 moving on ways to help your child deal with a friend leaving town. By Ruth Rehbock
34 s chool-bus safety Donna Cobban looks at the regulations in place 36 when you are gone lynis Horning finds out what the law G says about “custody” 40 like father like son Siviwe Minyi shares moments of bonding with his son
14 u pfront with paul Paul Kerton adopts drastic measures to keep his children flu free 18 dealing with difference understanding the world of the gifted child, by Marina Zietsman 56 r esource: education matters Chareen Boake looks at different schooling options for your child 61 a good read new books for the whole family
44 h igher learning sending your child to university takes planning. By Tammy Sutherns and Susan Tissiman 48 c ulture studies Nina Mensing-Challis takes her two boys on a backpacking adventure 52 g rowing solution seekers playful ways to teach problemsolving skills. By C.J. Simister
64 what’s on in august 78 last laugh Sam Wilson on reviewing restaurants
classified ads 72 family marketplace 74 it’s party time
this month’s cover images are supplied by:
over to you I was very interested to read the article on goat’s milk (in your May issue). I introduced goat’s milk to my son when he was 10 months old – he was breastfed and on a soya formula prior to this. I have read up extensively on goat’s milk and can really advocate using it: the switchover took one feed and he was hooked. He slept better almost from that first night and his skin is so velvety. He is thriving on it and, since we are vegetarians, the high protein content means he is getting all the nutrients he needs in addition to his solids. He is an amazing eater and has a healthy appetite. Thanks for an informative magazine with lots of ideas and good articles. Tammy Ballantyne
a dream come true I was informed earlier today that I won the Fairy Shop, May 2010 competition. I would like to convey my thanks and gratitude to the Fairy Shop and Child Magazine. Thank you very, very much. My daughter, Laylaa, will be on cloud nine when she sees her dress. I remember wishing for my own fairy dress as a child. I am so delighted that I have now been given the opportunity to make it a reality for my little girl. Tashnime Moorad
sweet dreams I have two girls, Alice (14 months) and Ella (three-anda-half-years-old). A few months after Alice was born, we started having trouble getting Ella to sleep. She had always been a fantastic sleeper and never fought going to bed. We suddenly had a child that would cry for us or call us repeatedly to come upstairs, long after her bedtime. We were exhausted. One day, someone shared a brilliant idea with us: Ella was allowed a “special treat” and could sleep in her sister’s room. Alice was already asleep and we told Ella she could go to sleep in Alice’s room as long as she lay quietly and didn’t make a noise or wake up her sister. It worked brilliantly. She felt secure with her sister, and went to sleep quietly and quickly. Later in the evening
before we went to bed, we would move Ella back into her room so the two of them didn’t wake each other up in the morning. Luckily we have a spare bed in Alice’s room that Ella slept in but if you don’t, maybe even a mattress on the floor will suffice. Once Ella was falling asleep easily again, we saved the nights of sleeping with her sister for special occasions – such as when we were going out and had a babysitter. You might find that even your five-year-old will enjoy being with her baby sister and may find comfort in knowing someone else is with her. I personally think it also helps to strengthen the bond between siblings. Christine
the goodness of goat’s milk
some magic! I love the book extract “give them a bit of magic” by Roni Jay in the June/July issue of Child Magazine. It is such a refreshing viewpoint in our society that touts structure and stimulation. A friend of mine advises, “The best thing you can give your children is a little bit of boredom.” There’s nothing better to get their wonderful imaginations kick-started – or mom’s! Emily
thanks for the help Thank you very much for having featured Mr Recycle in the resource in your April issue of Child Magazine. We were able to “create” another Planet Guardian as a result! One of your readers also joined our project to Save Our Earth. Many blessings on you, and your magazine. Martin Brink
marital problems My heart went out to the reader who wrote about her desperateness to recover the closeness she used to have with her husband in the letters page of the May edition. I had to respond and let her know about The Marriage Course. It is a seven-week evening course run by several churches in South Africa. It aims at helping couples have great marriages. We did the course after 13
years of marriage. Life and having children takes its toll on every marriage and unless one works on your marriage, it deteriorates. The course initially started at Holy Trinity Brompton church in London. This is how it works: over the course of seven weeks you have a “date night” with your partner, where you are served a delicious dinner in a restaurant-type setting and after dinner you watch a DVD on a particular topic such as communication, in-laws or sex. You then have the opportunity to discuss, with each other, these important issues with the aid of a workbook. As the course leader Nicky Lee explains, “A marriage is like a car and every car needs a tune-up after a few years.” Doing the course was fantastic as my husband and I had a chance to reconnect, communicate and discover how much we had in common and be reminded as to why we had chosen to enter this life partnership. One of the results of The Marriage Course is that we
now try and plan a weekly date and have even taken to dancing the Tango. Anonymous I would like to respond to the reader who described her wish to re-connect, or enrich her relationship, with her partner after a period of focusing on the children. FAMSA is an NGO focusing on relationships (including counselling); details can be found on their website (famsa.org.za) and they have listings in the telephone directory. Shelley Horwitz
standing together Thanks for running my letter in the June/July 2010 issue of Child Magazine (support on facebook). It has already brought together 20 people. I have received emails asking for advice and where to go for help. People are sounding very confused, helpless and misguided. I would be so grateful if you would run an article on dyspraxia. Catherine [Look out for our October “dealing with difference” article, which will be on dyspraxia]
over to you continued... Witnesses do not accept transfusions of whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma. However it is up to the individual’s conscience if they will accept minor fractions that don’t contain the above. At first glance your article gives the impression that we don’t vaccinate. It also indicates that we don’t ingest any animal products, which would include eating meat. I can assure you we are not vegetarians! Whether or not this is what you actually meant or if it was just incorrectly worded, I think it would be appropriate to print the truth in your next article. Louise
stating the facts As a nursery school teacher and a mom I always look forward to reading Child Magazine. However, I was really disappointed with your article on vaccines (May 2010) as the box “beyond belief” gave the wrong impression of the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses as far as vaccines are concerned. I am a Witness and my colleague pointed it out to me saying: “I know you vaccinate your child”. Jehovah’s
Thanks for your letter, at Child Magazine we enjoy debate around our features. The “beyond belief” box in “rash decision” said that “there are Jehovah’s Witnesses who reject vaccinations”, but it did not say that all Jehovah’s Witnesses do. In addition the last sentence of the box went as follows: “most religions leave it up to individuals to decide.” The comment concerning “putting anything from an animal into their bodies” was in the context of “vaccines being made from blood products and animal tissue,” mentioned earlier, however, we apologise if any readers have taken offence.
In addition, we gave the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses of South Africa a chance to clarify their view on vaccines. Here is their response... Vaccination is a personal choice and the Jehovah’s Witness magazines have over many years referred to vaccination and also stated that each individual should decide personally what to do, based on the facts at hand. As far as tissue transplants are concerned, whether from an animal or human source, this is also left up to each individual to make an informed decision. Pieter de Heer, Secretary
write to us We would like to know what’s on your mind. Send your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 12002, Mill Street, 8010. We reserve the right to edit and shorten submitted letters. The opinions reflected here are those of our readers and are not necessarily held by Hunter House Publishing.
giveawaysin august treasured memories Keep and display all of your child’s memorabilia such as A3 artwork, photos, certificates, reports, badges, medals and CDs. That’s everything together in one safe place forever. My File About Me is an all-in-one, larger than A3 size, sturdy system that can store an entire life’s history that is designed to last. It includes a photo album, memory book, life file and treasure box. For queries contact 011 673 9817 or email@example.com or visit myfileaboutme.co.za Readers of Joburg’s Child stand a chance to win a fun and colourful starter kit valued at R750 or one of six vouchers valued at R250. Email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org with “JHB win” in the subject line together with your full name, contact numbers and suburb, by 31 August 2010. Only one entry per reader.
let children be children Since 1993 Keedo has been bringing fun, colour, style and comfort to thousands of babies and children around the world and epitomises quality and style. Inspired by nature, Keedo’s focus is also on respect for the environment. Head to your Keedo store at Hyde Park: 011 325 5095 or Fourways: 011 465 9316 or visit their e-store at keedo.com. One lucky winner will receive a Keedo voucher to the value of R500 to spend in-store or online. To enter, email your details to email@example.com with “Keedo JHB win” in the subject line or post your entry to Keedo JHB win, PO Box 12002, Mill Street, 8010 before 31 August 2010. Only one entry per reader. Terms and conditions apply.
colourful life Crayola products are fun and innovative. For many years Crayola has contributed to the development of young children by offering quality, mess-free products that enhance and stimulate creativity. Crayola offers the right tools for colouring in, painting and drawing– such as Crayola Colour Wonder’s ink or paint, which needs just seconds to dry to magically reveal bright colours. Importantly, Colour Wonder won’t mark clothes, furnishings or children as the colours only work on Colour Wonder paper. Crayola is available at selected toy stores nationwide. For more information call 011 493 8300. Terms and conditions apply. Readers stand a chance to win one of two Crayola Hampers valued at R550, which each include one Winnie the Pooh-themed Crayola Colour Wonder and a Crayola Happy Hands Art Mat, a Cars-themed Crayola “Colouring by Numbers” and a Crayola Maxi Sticker Kit. To enter, email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Crayola JHB win” in the subject line or post your entry to Crayola JHB win, PO Box 12002, Mill Street, 8010 before 31 August 2010. Only one entry per reader.
win a dream holiday Buy any Disney merchandise from your nearest Ackermans store and stand a chance to win a trip to Disneyland Paris for a family of four. You and your family will also attend the exclusive enchanted Disney ball and meet the special guests. The giveaway includes three days of fun at Disneyland Paris and two nights in an official Disneyland hotel. Simply grab your entry form in store.
giveaways continued... a brand apart Catimini, an exclusive children’s clothing brand for more than 35 years, asserts its passion for children through its personal style and offers the sort of trendiness that suits today’s child. Catimini has collections for boys and girls ranging from newborn up to 16 years old. For more information visit the store in Broadacres Lifestyle Centre in Fourways, call 011 467 0082 or log on to catimini.com. One Joburg’s Child reader stands a chance to win Catimini clothing valued at R1 500. To enter, email your details to email@example.com with “A brand apart” in the subject line or by sms to 072 854 5303. Only one entry per reader. Terms and conditions apply.
congratulations to our May winners Bridgette Ball wins an Artjamming party; Adele Blom, Anisa Kara, Audine Brooks, Bashiera Tifloen, Bhavini Dhanji, Jason Ball, Charmaine Moura, Franca Loddo, Heather Hendey, Hester Georgiou, Jacqueline Lambropoulos, Nicoline van Huyssteen, Pretiksha Mistry, Shanthi Suri, Sharlene Fine, Simon Good, Sonja Greig, Talha van Zyl, Valerie Grimbeek, Zdenka Moyle and Zuzana Imrichova who each win a Naartjie gift voucher; Nicole du Preez, Sonja Greig and Justine Burgess who each win a personalised name cushions from Buttercup; Benita Coetzee, Suvarsha Kissun, Philezia Josipovic, Laaiqah Gani, Hayley Newton-Holroyd and Terry Chumbley who each win a cast iron, Le Creuset baker; and Nicole Hoffmann who wins a birthday party with Yeesh!
time to tea party Polka Dot Art Studio allows children the creative space to interact with their peers and develop social skills, while expressing themselves artistically using the studio’s extensive craft options. This month is teatime at Polka Dot. The fun and educational Polka Dot Art Studio is a unique and highly creative environment for children of all ages and makes a great party venue. For more information contact the Parkhurst studio: 011 447 9892, the Morningside studio: 010 590 0161 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Two readers of Joburg’s Child can each win a Polka Dot Art Studio birthday tea party worth R5 000 each. Each prize is for one child and nine friends. To enter, email your details to win@childmag. co.za with “Polka Dot tea win” in the subject line or post your entry to Polka Dot tea win, PO Box 12002, Mill Street, 8010 before 31 August 2010. Only one entry per reader. Terms and conditions apply.
lessons with mom For LIZ FISHER’s sons, going to school might mean baking muffins one day and insect- and plant-studies in their garden the next.
ILLUSTRATIONS: MARIETTE BARKHUIZEN
home school my two boys, aged five and eight. Although we have a routine and start at the same time every day, each day is different and exciting. I refrain from trying to be The Teacher with a ruler, gold stars and a structured system, where subjects are followed to the T and timetables to the minute. We have fun – and the boys learn through various activities in a relaxed environment. Although there is an age difference, I teach them together. One morning, for example, we baked muffins. Just in this one activity they learned maths, Afrikaans, cooking skills, as well as lessons in responsibility, time and music. They practised maths during the measuring of ingredients; and Afrikaans, when I asked them to fetch an object using the Afrikaans word instead of the English. They learned how many minutes it takes to prepare and bake muffins. Plus we sang various “tidy up” songs, instilling in them the importance of cleaning up after themselves. The boys learned an astonishing amount, all while having a great time. This is what home schooling is all about.
On another occasion we worked in the garden and I taught them about the botany of flowers, the biology of insects and the nutrients in the soil. This was particularly fascinating for my five-year-old, who is an orchid-lover and already knows more scientific names of orchids than I do. “What if your child isn’t keen on baking or gardening?” you may ask. Well, my eightyear-old is often sceptical about what I have planned for him… but the key lies in having a “reward system”. Most children respond better to a reward system than to a punishment-based one. When baking muffins, the reward was being able to eat out of the batter bowl, which all children love to do – and of course they also got to eat some of the delicious end product. The gardening “lesson” took place early in the morning, and when we’d finished it was hot enough for them to run through the sprinkler, spray each other and me. That night they slept like angels. I still regularly get the question: “What about social interaction?”. It often feels like people think home-school moms lock their offspring in the house and never go
out. The truth is we have a fun week filled with friends and family. There are tons of ways you can allow your child to still have an active social life. We often have play-dates with other children, and my children attend sports and other activities. The boys are also very outgoing. My eight-year-old has told me he would like to be an architect and my five-year-old wants to be a vet. So when they play with Lego, the one designs and builds the other’s vet practice, which is where all the sick insects go. It’s a privilege and honour for me to be their mom, mentor, guidance counsellor, nurse, caregiver… No other feeling comes close to this.
Readers, this is your column – it’s a space to air your views, share a valuable parenting lesson, vent your frustrations or celebrate your joys. Send your writing to email@example.com
upfront with paul
Paul, Sabina and Saskia
harsh medicine PAUL KERTON considers
t’s that time of year when children get sick. Colds and flu invade small bodies with ease, yet no matter how old our children get and however many winters they have survived, they still don’t get it. They wander about the house without shoes or socks; and head outdoors, no jacket, no hat – turning blue before our very eyes. “Put something warm on, now,” we parents cajole. “But I’m warm already? It isn’t that cold,” they argue, through almost chattering teeth. “Put something warm on now!” we say slightly more sternly, adding, “or stay in your room.” They surrender with a look that says, “what’s so important about being warm anyway?” Well, little Miss Short-Memory I’m glad you asked. If you get sick, firstly, you are miserable. Secondly, you will miss school at a crucial time in your development. And thirdly, you will have to go to the doctor (no matter how mild the condition) so that he can tell us what we already know and give us a prescription for a range of medicines, which you will refuse to swallow without a monumental amount of blackmail and physical force and not before the sticky red goo has been spilled on the crisp new duck-downduvet. So, having shelled out R180 for the doctor, and another R180 to the pharmacy, we now have to cough up R120 for dry cleaning, and we’ve taken about four costly hours off work. Then we have to
organise for someone to be at home while you recuperate. And, because you are feeling at a low ebb and sorry for yourself, mommy caves in and lets you sleep in our bed, which means first mommy, and then daddy, gets ill and we have to buy even more (stronger) medicine, while feeling dreadful and taking even more time off work. And, just as you are bouncing and jumping around, smiling with renewed good health, finally wearing something sensible and warm, your sister will start coughing and spluttering and the cycle will start all over again. So, please, dear daughter, put on something warm before I burst a blood vessel! There is, of course, another school of thought that, in contrast to the mollycoddling above, dictates that when children get sick they need to be kept in quarantine. This means no contact with the outside world, no excitement, no sweets, no DStv… no special privileges. Harsh medicine perhaps, but that way: a) they get better quicker, b) they don’t pass it on and c) they realise how boring it is being sick, and suddenly think twice about running about the house near naked when it is minus four degrees. This may sound slightly Dickensian and rather Guantanamo Bay, but it does have the required effect. Well, according to my good friend and former US President, George “Dubya” Bush. Paul Kerton is the author of Fab Dad: A Man’s Guide to Fathering. joburg’s
PHOTOGRAPH: JILL BADER
prescribing a bout of quarantine.
the itch you can’t scratch LUCILLE KEMP looks at eczema in babies.
czema starts out as an itchy skin irritation that when scratched becomes a rash. When scratching continues or the inflammation is exacerbated by external factors such as allergens, the area will flare up into a red and burning rash, that can then become scaly. When infected, it will appear as pus-filled blisters that may ooze or become crusty. Eczema mostly appears on children’s cheeks and scalps, the joints of their arms and legs, necks, back of the arms, the inside of elbows, the front of the legs and torso. This is called atopic or allergic eczema and “is the most common dermatologic condition in children,” says Dr Denga Makhado, a Johannesburg-based dermatologist. “The gene that causes atopic eczema is also responsible for asthma and allergies,” she explains. Bloemfontein-based dermatologist Dr Deon Rautenbach also says, “Most eczema cases, however, are mild and don’t warrant medical treatment, just moisturising.”
burning issue If your child has severe eczema, you’ll know that the big issue is treatment. Steroid therapy is an acceptable treatment but overuse of corticosteroid cream can cause stunted growth in infants. A good clinician will always consider the benefits of treating eczema versus the risks relating to corticosteroids. Durbanbased paediatrician Dr Yatish Kara says: “I prescribe a mild one-percent hydrocortisone for short periods of time.” However, this is as a last line of defence. “I try emollient creams first, as eczema often improves with skin hydration. Also, the bacteria in eczema secrete a toxin that irritates skin and aggravates eczema, so I suggest an antibacterial cream.” For steroid-wary parents, Rautenbach and Kara recommend immunosuppressant topical medication (calcineurin inhibitors), which don’t contain steroids but have an anti-inflammatory effect and relieve itching. joburg’s
maintenance plan A child’s eczema may be triggered by anything from soaps, moisturisers, sweat and allergens such as dust mites, washing powder and cow’s milk to scratchy clothing and dry, winter weather. Parents should try to control the child’s environment where possible and alleviate the symptoms. Scratching can cause more issues (such as infection) than the eczema itself so help your child understand that although scratching may feel good momentarily, it will make things worse in the long run. Also, keep your child’s nails short and clean. For babies you may consider placing mittens on their hands. An antihistamine can be effective for relieving itchiness. Use a perfume-free, soothing and intense moisturiser to wash your baby instead of soap, and apply the cream before putting them to bed. On this note, Kara says: “Be wary of expensive cosmetic creams – they cost a fortune and do little more than cheap emollient creams.” Keep your child’s body at a lower temperature with loose-fitting cotton clothing; use a dust-mite-proof mattress and wash clothes using non-biological washing powder. Some experts believe it helps to breastfeed your baby for at least the first six months of their lives, and delay the introduction of solids. If you are breastfeeding, food allergies may be responsible for your child’s flare ups so steer away from cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat and citrus fruits. If you aren’t breastfeeding and your child doesn’t have a cow’s-milk allergy, you could use a hypoallergenic, partially hydrolysed formula. Then, of course, it is advised that you protect your child from tobacco exposure to prevent allergic conditions. The good news is that, according to Makhado, “most children will outgrow eczema and the symptoms become less and less as they grow older.” August 2010
born or bre(a)d? DONNA COBBAN looks at the ever-growing problem of obesity among children.
more than likely served in a larger quantity than the child needs. Further, and equally fascinating research, was the theory of a “thrifty gene” put forward by geneticist James Neel in 1962. His thinking is based on the fact that populations have for thousands of years relied on farming, hunting and fishing as a means of obtaining food, which resulted in periods of feast and famine. Neel proposed that these extremes in calorie intake resulted in people developing a “thrifty gene” that allowed the storage of fat during the feast periods in order to survive the famine. While helpful long ago, this gene now appears to work against those who live a Western lifestyle with an uninterrupted supply of calories and lack of physical activity, leading
The good news is that it is easier to change a child’s eating habits than it is to change an adult’s.
to unhealthy amounts of fat being stored for a famine that may indeed never arrive.
you are what you eat Whether it is the “thrifty gene” at work or not, Alison Lang, a Johannesburg-based clinical dietician specialising in paediatrics, believes the prevalence of certain foods and the ever-increasing frequency with which they are consumed may contribute to the obesity crisis. These commonly include convenience foods such as fish fingers, two-minute noodles, processed cereals, chicken nuggets, crisps, chips and sausages, along with excess calories found in iced teas, juices, flavoured water and fizzy drinks. Sadly, she says, she rarely sees the recommended “five fruit and vegetables a day” ever achieved. Cape Town-based dietician Deborah Hoepfl believes there are some essentials of healthy eating that can significantly
hile the United States may well be the epicentre of obesity, the rest of the world seems to be playing a fast catch-up game. According to the Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle Research Unit in South Africa, childhood obesity is an increasing problem worldwide with 22 million children under the age of five being classified as overweight. In South Africa 17.1 percent of children between the ages of one and nine living in urban areas are overweight. The reasons are vast and varied and the results of scientific inquiry just as diverse. New research suggests that children of women who smoked while pregnant
may be more likely to be obese in their late teenage years. Other new research links the obesity gene, known as TMEM18, to the current obesity crisis, but there are those who dispute this and claim children of obese parents become obese because they emulate the behaviour of the over-eating parent. Not so, say others; it is all decided months before the egg is even fertilised. Scientists claim that if a woman is overweight before becoming pregnant, her child is nearly three times more likely to be overweight by age seven, compared to a child whose mother was not overweight or obese. And while blame is being dished out, let’s not spare the busy working parent who grabs convenience food on the way home, which is often laden with trans fats and
reduce obesity levels. These include having breakfast every morning, enjoying dinner together around a table every evening, choosing water as the family’s drink of choice, reducing TV time, maintaining an hour of moderate daily exercise, enjoying five fruit and vegetables daily, and not being forced to finish everything on your plate so you learn to self-regulate your appetite. Interestingly, Hoepfl debunks the notion that obesity is largely genetic, explaining that there are indeed incidences where both parents are of a normal weight but the child is overweight. In these situations she recommends that the whole family adapt their lifestyle to accommodate the
overweight child, with parents acting as role models for healthy eating and an active lifestyle. This is perhaps an easier path to tread than the “obesity runs in the family” premise. This, according to Hoepfl, suggests that if a child under 10 has one obese parent, it doubles the child’s chances of developing adult obesity. If both parents are obese, there is an 80 percent chance the child will be obese. This sounds alarming, but the good news is that it is easier to change a child’s eating habits than it is to change an adult’s. According to research by BUPA, a British-based health-insurance company, children should not be put on strict diets but rather helped to maintain their current weight through a healthy eating plan and increased exercise. This then allows them to grow into that weight, as they
get taller. In addition to this, BUPA warns that parents should never put a child on a weight-loss diet without medical advice, as this can affect their growth.
living off the fat of the land So there it is: endless research, testing, case studies, group studies, nation studies and published results about the causes of obesity. Among all of these, though, are two questions posed by American doctor David Katz, an internationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight management and the prevention of chronic disease, that require reflection. “Why,” he asks, “are we eating ourselves to death?” And secondly: “Why would a putatively intelligent species do such a thing?” His answer is succinct: “Because we can.” There are, he says, many explanations one might invoke, “from the cost of food, to its energy density, to stress, hectic schedules,
food for thought Portion size has apparently been on the rise for a while. US researchers recently studied depictions of The Last Supper painted over the past 1 000 years, and found that the size of the main meals grew by 69 percent and plate size by 66 percent from the oldest painting (done in 1000 AD) and the most recent (1700s) paintings.
technology and advertising.” But, he says, it all comes back to the most fundamental explanation of all. “Animals, including us, tend to get fat when circumstances allow. Circumstances have never so generously allowed for obesity as they now do.”
doing the maths Classifying obesity in adults is easy: a BMI (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres) of more than 25 is classified as overweight and a BMI greater than 30 is classified as obese. For children, however, the calculation is more complicated. A child’s BMI should be plotted on a BMI chart, which takes differences in age, sex and pubertal status into account. According to the International Obesity Task Force a BMI between the 85th and 94th percentile for age and sex is defined as overweight and a BMI at or greater than the 95th percentile is classified as obese. Parents who are concerned about their child’s weight should consult their GP or paediatrician.
dealing with difference
A high IQ might sound like a blessing, but for the intellectually gifted child it’s an asset that can be frustrating and alienating, says MARINA ZIETSMAN.
or Durban parents Nadine* and Gary* the rocky road turned smooth when their son Ethan*, now 12, was tested and confirmed to be gifted. “Early in his school career we were asked to have him assessed for ADHD and were advised to put him on medication. He has always been a very active little boy, and we were told that some teachers were going to find it difficult to deal with him. He would demand attention and liked to be involved with everything. He has a great sense of humour, but was inappropriately disruptive in class.” A second set of tests done later in that Grade 2 year confirmed what his parents had always suspected. “He had always been way ahead of the typical developmental stages, so we weren’t surprised when he was found to have an above-average IQ (130 and up). It was a blessing to have confirmation that he was exceptionally bright, but then we had to figure out how to work with him and make him understand that certain behaviours are not acceptable. His quick wit can be funny, but not when the teacher is in the middle of a lesson!”
my child is gifted, now what? Ethan is part of the estimated five to seven percent of children who are intellectually gifted. There are checklists of characteristics of gifted children (see “ahead of the pack”), but it is most often the parents or grandparents who first suspect something, as they watch their children fast-forward through the milestones set out in parenting books. Ethan’s testing made all the difference for him and his parents, but according to Professor Shirley Kokot, president of the National Association for Gifted and Talented Children in South Africa and an educational psychologist, identifying the gifted child isn’t always necessary. If you would like to confirm your child’s giftedness, a few tests can be done to determine intellect. These are usually pricey and, most importantly, must be done by a qualified professional such as an educational psychologist who specialises in gifted children, otherwise the results may not be accurate. “If a child is easy-going, enjoys the social life at school, loves doing well academically and has the personality
that he was exceptionally bright, but then we had to figure out how to work with him.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND ILLUSTRATION: THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM
a blessing “toIthavewasconfirmation
to tolerate frustrations, there is often no reason to subject him to testing,” says Kokot. “It’s children who are experiencing problems at school that need to be assessed, so that the reason for their behaviour or unhappiness can be ascertained and better understood,” she says. And, the earlier the detection the better. “Many gifted children have an enjoyable school career and go on to do well professionally, socially and personally,” she says.
missing the mark According to Dr James Webb in his book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: “Many gifted and talented children (and adults) are being misdiagnosed… The most common misdiagnoses are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Mood Disorders… depression, and Bi-Polar Disorder.” This stems from ignorance about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children, which are then mistakenly assumed to be signs of pathology, explains Webb. Mary Young, head of Verity Preparatory School and College in Durban (a school for gifted children), adds that 23 of the
common markers for ADHD, expressed positively and not negatively, can also describe a gifted individual. “To complicate matters”, says Young, “a number of gifted children display attention problems (if a topic is presented too slowly, for example) and other learning issues. Often the more ‘expected’ disorder becomes the point of focus to the exclusion of the giftedness.” Another problem facing gifted children is boredom. According to Young: “Gifted children experience a world geared for those mostly operating on a different academic level to theirs as absolutely, mindnumbingly, depressingly boring.” It might not surprise you, therefore, that the truly gifted child is not always at the top of his class. “A gifted child often presents the dichotomy of displaying obvious intelligence at levels beyond the rest of the grade, or shows excellence with personal projects at home, but does not perform at school or show any interest in school work,” explains Young. “A typically gifted child who has been at school for a while could be underperforming and doing just enough to pass,” she adds. We’re all familiar with the child who most teachers and parents feel could do a lot better “if only he would apply himself!” It doesn’t help that people don’t “get them,” says Young. They are often
ahead of the pack The following are typical signs of giftedness. A gifted child may: • have an unusual memory; • pass intellectual milestones early; • start reading early; • have unusual hobbies or interests or an in-depth knowledge of certain subjects; • appear to be intolerant of other children’s inability to “get them”; • show an awareness of world events; • set impossibly high standards; • be a high achiever; • prefer to spend time with adults or in solitary pursuits; • love to talk; • ask questions all the time; • learn easily; • display a developed sense of humour; • be musical; • like to be in control; • make up additional rules for games. (Courtesy of Mensa)
“picked on and expected to be better than their peers at everything”. “Educators need to understand that these children cannot be brilliant at everything,” says Young. A child may have an incredible vocabulary and the ability to hold her own when interacting with adults, but
harsh reality on soft issues Gifted children are fully aware they are different. If the reason for their difference is not recognised early, they might feel there is something wrong with them. In addition, they often have heightened sensitivities. This makes them acutely aware when others are talking about
Many gifted and talented children (and adults) are being misdiagnosed…
she’s still a child and needs to be allowed to be, and behave like, a child.
them, which can have a huge emotional impact. Parents need to ensure they don’t confuse intellectual ability with emotional maturity. Nadine says Ethan felt constantly victimised. “In Grade 2, before his giftedness was diagnosed, my son’s self-confidence took a knock. He and his teacher did not connect. She treated him like a disruptive child, and his classmates followed suit, telling him to ‘stop being naughty’. He defended himself with scuffles at school. Despite his high IQ, his
emotional IQ was low. And because of his sensitive nature, he was easily hurt.” However, most gifted children don’t struggle socially. “Some thrive on taking on leadership roles and if they are naturally sociable and gregarious, they find great fulfilment in being looked up to by their peers and others,” says Kokot. “The degree of giftedness also plays a role. Those who are way above the rest cannot relate to the ‘normal’ range of humans with whom they come into contact and tend not to know how to interact.” Nadine says Ethan also struggled to relate to his peers, because they “don’t get things. He used to get quite irritated and short with them, but as he is growing older he is learning to discern and make adjustments to his attitude without being condescending.” Young adds that gifted children seek friends based on intellectual compatibility, which might mean they prefer adult conversation or choose friends who are older than they are. Some try hard to fit in with their peers, mostly “to keep things peaceful, though many gifted children have long ago learned – from necessity – to make peace with their own company,” says Young. “Ethan’s bedroom is always a chaotic mess of creation, filled with science projects and experiments,” says Nadine.
“He’s happiest alone in his room, working feverishly on his own projects. He writes, directs and produces his own films – and only comes out for food and drink breaks, which need to be enforced by Mom.”
get with the programme How can you help your child to reach his full potential, negotiating any emotional stress in the process? “The very first thing is to be honest about any and all information requested of you,” says Young. “Be prepared to be a reliable source.” Kokot stresses the importance of offering children educational challenges at their level of capability, just like you would for a talented sportsman. There are various organisations that offer special programmes for talented children. These give them the opportunity to spend time with other gifted children, which is very important for their emotional and social development. In addition, these programmes give children a chance to satisfy their curiosity and need for mental stimulation. (See “reach for the stars” on page 21 for other ways to encourage and nurture gifted children). For Ethan’s parents, getting him into such a programme was essential. In Grade 5 he was interviewed for the LEAP (Learning Extension and Acceleration Programme)
class at his school and accepted. He now gets all the stimulation he needs. He finally feels that he belongs and has the opportunity to excel. “It’s a huge relief after all the years of being told that we were to put him on medication – essentially to slow him down so he would conform to class structure,” says Nadine. Sadly, the South African curriculum does not include special programmes for gifted children, and very few schools offer them. “South Africa needs educators and parents who understand giftedness and its ramifications. It is a huge tragedy that giftedness has been deleted from teachers’ training,” says Kokot. “I suggest parents of gifted children sit in the principal’s office and refuse to budge until someone takes action. Work with the teachers and offer to help in supplying additional materials for enrichment projects.” Parents of gifted children need to have tenacity, endurance and, says Young, “a lot of energy to keep up with the mental gymnastics, questioning and debate surrounding your decisions.” As your child grows older you’ll need to stay sharp to keep up – which means one of the benefits of parenting a gifted child is that it’ll keep your brain (and, hopefully, you) young. * Names have been changed
reach for the stars Tips for helping gifted children reach their full potential • Do not dismiss ideas or fantasy discussions as silly or irrational. • Try to avoid imposing solutions to problems on them. • Provide alternative viewpoints in discussions. • Join the library and allow your child to take out books in the adult area. • Get the educators involved. • Educators should not give the gifted child more work, but more interesting/challenging tasks. • Educators should encourage gifted
children to explore topics in more depth than their peers. • Educators should not expect gifted children to learn by repetition. • If they want to explore topics or projects suitable for older grades, allow them to do so. You can’t expect them to wait until next year. • Do not exclude them from general adult conversation about topics such as politics, finance or world events. • Take them to as many interesting places as possible. • Join or form a support group. • Read as much as you can on the topic.
• Never skimp on requests for books. • Get an Internet connection and teach your child to search intelligently. • Engage with each new teacher and explain your child’s position and characteristics. • Expect to be in many parent/ teacher meetings. (Information supplied by Mary Young, Verity Preparatory School and College, Durban) For more information, visit mensa.org.za or get in touch with the National Association for Gifted and Talented Children in South Africa, 021 873 4951.
South Africa’s mother-tongue education practices have been implicated in everything from poor education results to the loss of African languages and cultures in the move to English. Glynis Horning reports.
hen Thembi*, a 41-year-old Durban receptionist, heard her daughter Sli* was one of the 40 percent of South African pupils who failed matric last year, she was convinced of the cause. It was not her daughter, whose books Thembi had to remove at 11:30pm most nights, such was the girl’s zeal to learn. It was not the township school north of Durban and its teachers, whose efforts in the face of limited resources she appreciated. No, it was the language issue.
Our education authorities have publicly acknowledged the importance of mother-tongue education. As Naledi Pandor, Minister of Education until last year, put it in 2006: “Study in the mother tongue should introduce a diversity of learning opportunities that have been unavailable in South Africa in the past. The policy recognises that past policy and practice has disadvantaged millions of children, and it promotes the effective learning and teaching of the previously neglected indigenous languages of
“Sli did very well until Grade 3; she was our hope for the family,” Thembi sighs. “Then in Grade 4 she started all these big subjects like science, and it was all taught in English! She would bring books home, but her English was still poor, she had started learning it only in Grade 2. My English is not good too, and I know nothing of these subjects so I could not help. If Sli could have learned in isiZulu for longer, she would have done better!” Thembi doesn’t know it, but there is considerable research to support this. As a statement, issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation earlier this year, put it: “Experience all over the world has shown that if children receive most of their primary-school education in a language they do not understand – and that their teachers often cannot speak properly – their cognitive development can be seriously impaired.” Researchers such as Dr Kathleen Heugh, who has run large-scale studies in literacy education in sub-Saharan Africa, have shown children get far better results receiving primary-school education in their mother tongue. And the South African constitution enshrines children’s right to mother-tongue tuition: “Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practicable.”
of schooling, but they will need to find a school offering it – not easy for less-common languages – and there seems no firm plan to extend mother-tongue beyond that. “The language chosen by the learner as a language of learning and teaching shall be taught as a subject, or as a first additional language from Grade 1,” Motshekga told press in Pretoria. “The teaching of English will occur alongside mother-tongue instruction for those learners who choose English as a language of learning and teaching.”
Mother-tongue bilingual education is a noble idea but challenging to implement. – Genevieve Koopman, director of general education and training, Western Cape Opposition parties support it: “I’m all for continuing with mother tongue right up to tertiary level,” says DA MP Juanita Kloppers-Lourens, shadow minister of Basic Education. “You always think and function more smoothly in your mother tongue,” adds Kloppers-Lourens, an Afrikaans speaker, who did part of her LLB in English. So why have we been slow in practically advancing mother-tongue education? In July this year Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced changes as part of a new curriculum, Schooling 2025, to replace OutcomesBased Education from next year. Pupils will theoretically be able to learn in their mother tongue for the first three years
The Department of Education admits there is a problem. “The present situation, in which English is the preferred language of learning and tuition (LoLT) in the intermediate phase, impedes learning and leads to poor mastery of both English and the mother tongue if proper instruction in both languages is not strengthened,” says Bobby Soobrayan, newly appointed director-general of Basic Education in Pretoria. The transition to English as a LoLT (currently in Grade 4, though policy doesn’t officially restrict it to this) happens “too abruptly and often before learners have fully developed the necessary cognitive skills in their home languages,” he concedes. In a bid to address this, the Western and Eastern Cape are piloting a programme of extending mother-tongue education to Grade 6. “Should the impact yield positive spins, it will be rolled out countrywide,” he says. But it’s a complex process. For one thing, Julie Viljoen, languages publishing manager at OUPSA, which has been asked to provide books in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa to support the project, says only Grade 4 books have been bought so far. “We haven’t completed Grade 5 and Grade 6, and now that’s on hold because the curriculum is changing.” OUPSA has developed style guides for all 11 languages to cover common terminologies, she joburg’s
unpacking the problem
The present situation, in which English is the preferred language of learning and tuition in the intermediate phase, impedes learning and leads to poor mastery of both English and the mother tongue. – Bobby Soobrayan, national directorgeneral, Basic Education says. “But is it viable to develop all those languages for a higher education level? For example, Ndebele is such a young written language, and stories are mostly told, not written. Will the government start projects to help change this? And will the number of people who would use these books warrant it? Policy supports indigenous languages and bilingualism, but it would need drive and commitment from government.” As things stand, Genevieve Koopman, director of general education and training in the Western Cape, who recently took over the Language Transformation pilot project, reports finding little improvement in schools where it is being tried. “This is for the sheer reason that schools did not follow the model as prescribed,” she says. “To make MTBBE (mother tongue-based bilingual education) work requires huge resources and effort. There’s a need not just for textbooks in mother tongue, but for teachers to be given proper training in MTBBE, and to be committed to sticking to mother tongue in the classroom. Parental awareness and involvement is vital. It’s a noble idea, but challenging to implement.” Interestingly, one of the biggest obstacles to mother-tongue education is the attitude of parents. An HSRC survey has shown that “most South Africans prefer the use of English as the language of instruction from Grade 1 (with the exception of the Western and Northern Cape, where they prefer Afrikaans). English is the language of perceived potential upward educational mobility among almost all black Africans.” Soobrayan concurs: “Parents fear that learning through a language other than English restricts children’s potential to enter the global world with ease,” and there’s a perception it does not pay off in terms of economic viability, he says. “An important lesson in this regard is to compare benefits
enjoyed by Afrikaans-speaking people who have used Afrikaans throughout the education system.” “It’s good to learn English because it can open many doors,” says Ndela Nelson Ntshangase, a lecturer in Zulu at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “But it’s sad if children lose their mother tongue and culture!” And that is exactly what has been happening in South Africa, reports Professor Vivian de Klerk, Dean of Students at Rhodes University and former Professor of English Language and Linguistics, who has researched language shift. “More and more black parents have been sending their children to former model C or independent schools if they can afford it, to give them what they believe to be the best possible education – in English. African languages have taken second place, and in some cases children are losing them completely.” When children lose their mother tongue, De Klerk warns, they stand to lose their culture, sense of pride and identity, and sense of community. “It’s mostly the elite who can afford the better-resourced Englishmedium schools,” she says. “Their children often end up unable to communicate with other members of their community and even family, especially those in rural areas.” The children best able to retain their mother tongue are those living in areas where they can keep using it, De Klerk says. “When parents move to previously white suburbs, children can lose their mother tongue in just two years. And when this happens, it’s hard to reverse.” It’s better by far to take steps to prevent that loss (see “speaking solutions”).
looking forward “There is no doubt that English is a language of wider communication, hence instruction in home language needs to be accompanied joburg’s
by strengthened quality teaching of English as a first additional language,” says Soobrayan. But while government policy states that the first additional language (English) should be taught alongside mother tongue from Grade 1 (Schooling 2025 reiterates this), in practice this has not been the case to date. “Each school has its own policy at present, but most schools introduce English as a second language in Grade 2,” says Monono Mdluli, foundation phase lecturer at Wits Schools of Education. “In Grade 4, when all subjects must be taught in English, there are problems. Grade 4 is a crucial transitional grade when, instead of just doing literacy, numeracy and life skills, children move on to eight different learning areas [six subjects in Schooling 2025] including the sciences.” Systemic evaluations, and the annual national evaluations done at Grades 3, 6, 9 and 12 show children are not coping, she says. “Formal research should be done to find out what role not being taught in mother tongue for longer may play.” Like most education professionals, Mdluli does not advocate African mothertongue education be extended past Grade 6. “Many of our languages do not have the books or vocabularies for all subjects, especially the sciences. But a few more years of mother-tongue tuition in primary
school could make a major difference to school results.” It’s surely worth a try. South Africa’s matric results have declined steadily from a 73 percent pass rate in 2003 to some 60 percent last year. And in the last Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), South Africa came last, reports Paula Gaines, research and development manager of the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy NGO in Johannesburg. “Malawi, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania invest a lot less money in education than we do and get better results,” she says. “And though many factors are involved – including poor teacher training under apartheid that still needs to be adequately addressed, and throwing out lots of babies with the bath water when Curriculum 2005 was replaced by the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) – the language issue is part of it.” It seems that as the FW de Klerk Foundation statement concluded, “Mothertongue education is an essential basis for sound education. The challenge is to persuade government to do much more to ensure that it becomes a reality – and to convince parents that their children will receive a better education if they are taught (at primary school) in a language they can understand.” * Surnames withheld
speaking solutions Make a plan. Discuss your approach to your children’s language learning early on, and stick with it. Until puberty, children can easily absorb any second language they are exposed to regularly, but it’s better for them to be properly grounded in their mother tongue first, says Professor Vivian de Klerk, Dean of Students at Rhodes University. From the outset, one or both parents should always speak their mother tongue at home. “If one parent does this, they must do it consistently,” she says. “If the other parent speaks the second language consistently too, there will be no confusion for the child.” Choose a mother-tongue-medium preprimary and primary school, if possible. “Evidence shows that children get their academic understanding by drawing on their mother tongue,” says De Klerk. “If they start a second language too early they can battle to make progress in either language or in their education in general, and their confidence can suffer.” If children attend a second-language-medium school, speak only your mother tongue at home. Manono Ndluli, foundation phase lecturer at the Wits School of Education, put her 10-year-old daughter in an English-medium private school, but speaks to her only in Setswana, while her husband speaks only Zulu. “Now she speaks all three languages well.” Give children pride in their language and culture, and praise them when they speak it well. Read to them, tell them stories and teach them songs about their culture in their mother tongue. Correct gently. If children forget and address you in their second language, answer in their mother tongue. If they make mistakes, simply repeat what they have said with the mistake corrected. Encourage friendships with mother-tongue speakers. Attend cultural gatherings where it is spoken, and make regular visits to relatives who speak your mother tongue or encourage telephone chats. Tell children the potential benefits of being “balanced bilinguals”, says Carey Myles, author of Raising Bilingual Children (Mars Publishing). These include exposure to a wider range of experiences and perspectives, more flexible thinking, increased creativity, better problem-solving ability, and greater education opportunities and marketability in the world of work.
DONNA COBBAN takes a look at rewarding, offering incentives
’m not sure when it happened. I live in a doublestorey house. Sometimes I need to be downstairs and my son is convinced he needs to be upstairs. He was once of an age when he could not be trusted to roam the upper Oregon pine floors alone, so I negotiated. “Come downstairs and play,” I’d say, but he was far too enthralled with his reflection in the bedroom mirror. “Let’s go outside to the sand pit,” I’d cajole. No reaction, he had just found a photo of his dad, and a private one-way conversation began to unfold between the two of them.
“Come downstairs and we can have some grapes,” I tried. The words had barely left my lips and he was charging on all fours in the direction of the staircase. Downstairs at last he lunged towards the fridge and the promised grapes. Mission accomplished! I reached for the grapes, the coffee machine, my diary, my phone, the pot on the stove and kick started the day. No harm done, right? Or am I a manipulating mother, hellbent on my own purpose and just crafty enough to devise ways to encourage, trick or distract my child into my desired outcome?
I turn to my voluminous tome, New Oxford Dictionary of English, for a little clarity on the matter and conclude that all I am doing is offering an incentive (“a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something”). However, according to Robin Barker, author of The Mighty Toddler: the Essential Guide to the Toddler Years, bribery and reward offering can be easily confused. Suddenly I feel a little guilty as I read her take on the matter. “A reward comes unsolicited after the behaviour, the bribe is offered before.”
ILLUSTRATIONS: NIKKI-LEIGH PIPER
and outright bribery – and the subsequent complications that ensue.
I offered him R5 for every morning he got out of bed when I told him to, and was not grumpy.
Gulp. What if I just placed those grapes at the bottom of the stairs for my son to spot and said not a word, what would that be? No good – a bribe, Barker concludes, is usually given when the parent is desperate and the toddler indifferent (an all too common occurrence!). It can, she says, have immediate satisfying results, “but constant bribing is a form of blackmail that gives the parent the burden and the toddler the control”. I resolve to start house hunting for a single-storey home as soon as grapes are out of season.
But, no doubt, new challenges will emerge with each stage and what’s good for the toddler isn’t necessarily great for the teen. Cape Town-based clinical psychologist Ingrid Owens believes that parents of young children often just need to use the tools they have at hand. If negotiating your way out of the bathtub means the proffering of a carrot on a stick, then so be it, no harm done. “So long as this does not become a consistent mechanism with which to direct the child’s behaviour,” she cautions. Furthermore, Owens warns, too many rewards on offer can quickly
hamper the child’s intrinsic motivation to carry out a particular behaviour.
praising too much This apparently applies not only to regular carrots on sticks but also to dishing out too much praise. New research indicates that lavishing our children with inordinate amounts of praise can prove to be detrimental. According to Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, authors of the internationally acclaimed book NurtureShock, lavishing praise as a reward has its certain dangers. They describe how Dr Carol Dweck, now at Stanford University, conducted a study on the effects of praise. Using 20 different New York schools, she divided children into two groups. One group was consistently praised for being intelligent (“you must
They had spent the afternoon helping me in the kitchen… I was delighted and got it into my head that they needed rewarding.
be smart at this”) while the other group was consistently praised for their effort (“you must have worked really hard”). Both groups were then given the option of taking two different tests – one of which was more difficult than the other. Of the group praised for their effort, 90% chose the more difficult test, while the majority of the group praised for their intelligence chose the easier test. In other words, the smart children copped out. Dweck concluded that “emphasising effort gives a child a variable they can control”. Having read this I try to hold back on the “good job” and the “clever boy” repetitions that roll off my tongue. It’s hard to stop what has become second nature, but I am determined to try. I am amused when I stumble across a story where the father is praising his daughter for having descended a slide in the local park. “Good sliding!” he tells her, but as the writer points out, the art of sliding is achieved through
the pull of gravity, a universal law, and certainly not through the accomplished art of being a “good” slider. (Guilty, I make a mental note that the same applies to swinging.) So, now I know to hold back on praising my son’s every move, back to those grapes, which will no doubt morph into other things as he grows. I turn to parents with older children; forewarned is surely forearmed? My first point of inquiry involves the ubiquitous and seemingly inevitable star chart. Does it work and is it worth it? The answers are as wide ranging as the stars themselves. Cath tells me that her son Josh, aged six, loves his sleeping star chart. Once he achieves 20 stars for sleeping in his own room, he earns a present. Learning to sleep by himself, Cath reckons, far outweighs any possible “Pavlovian” damage to his psyche.
Robyn tried star charts on both her children. Leo, the eldest, responded like a dream, while her younger daughter, Juno, couldn’t have cared less. So it seems, as with most parenting dilemmas, it all depends on the child. Fouzia Ryklief of The Parent Centre in Cape Town believes a star chart can be a useful tool to get a process started, but that it should not be the only intervention. “View the star chart as an agreement or partnership in helping the child with something difficult that the child also wants to stop,” she recommends. However, she cautions, there shouldn’t be insistence or expectations that the child achieve a star every day. “It is perhaps better to see a star as an acknowledgement rather than a reward,” she says. Dan, aged seven, had an innocuous response to his mother’s attempts to cajole him with stars. “So we gave it up fairly joburg’s
quickly and turned to monetary bribes,” she tells me. “When he started Grade 1 he would wake up every morning grumpy, saying he did not want to go to school and I had to harangue him out of bed. The whole thing was a painful exercise. I knew he was happy at school and that there were no problems, so I offered him R5 for every morning he got out of bed when I told him to and was not grumpy. I think it took a week to change his behaviour and he now jumps out of bed happily each day and the money has morphed into weekly pocket money.”
show me the money Not every parent has a happy tale to tell. Judy deeply regrets what she did many years ago, when her boys were little. “They had spent the afternoon helping me in the kitchen – sweeping, washing dishes and the like. I was delighted and for some reason I got it into my head that they needed rewarding. I took out some lovely little aeroplanes I had stashed away for birthday presents and presented these to the boys once the work was done. They were astonished and the next time I asked them to help they asked if they were going to get an aeroplane in return. The stock of aeroplanes swiftly diminished and they rarely lifted a finger again. I had well and truly shot myself in the foot,” she tells me. I assure her that by going “public” with her story she may well save other parents from a similar fate. And Judy’s offer of meagre, yet very attractive, toy aeroplanes pales in comparison to a friend who recently offered his daughter R10 000 if she got top matric marks. There was an initial rush of enthusiasm, but when I called to check if the offer still stands and if her motivation is still as strong, it seemed that the family appears to have all but forgotten the offer, or have at least all moved on from the impossibility of the outcome. This is, however, not always the case. I remember only too well, watching fellow teens slip behind the wheel of their newly acquired vehicles – bribes procured for top marks. At the time, I was saddened that I joburg’s
had neither the marks nor the bribe-offering parents, so continued to negotiate for the use of the “family” car every Friday evening. Recent research by Harvard economist Roland Fryer on whether or not children respond to monetary rewards for scholastic achievement, indicates that children will respond better to rewards once the risk of failure is reduced. They found that paying children to pitch up at school worked better than paying them for top test scores. Attendance was something the children could control, the key they then concluded was perhaps to teach children to control more areas of their lives and then to reward the effort involved, rather than as yet unknown test results. It is indeed a complex arena in which to dabble as each child is so very different. I, like Judy, will no doubt soon have my own shot-in-the-foot story to share. In the meantime I am going to keep close to heart an anecdotal tale recently told in Times magazine by Amanda Ripley where she recounts the incident of a classmate with a TV addiction, long before this was “normal”. He was apparently “an encyclopaedia of vacuous content from the A-Team to Who’s the Boss”. His mother offered him $200 to quit the habit for a month. He then went cold turkey, rejecting offers to catch a secret show of Miami Vice at a friend’s house. No one could believe it. The month ended, his mother paid him his well-deserved $200 and “he went out and bought the biggest TV he could find”. I think that says it all.
well done Some alternative incentive ideas: Going out to dinner as a family – to celebrate a good report, for example. Coupon rewards that can be redeemed when it suits the child. Ideas for coupons could include: a trip to the park; a family picnic; a bike ride; a family night in, with the child choosing the movie; an extra bedtime story; getting to stay up a bit past their bedtime.
moving on Your child’s firm friend is moving to another city – how can you help them cope with the sense of loss?
anging out with friends can be lots of fun. For youngsters, however, it’s vital for their development. Children need playmates to learn to engage with others. It’s during the formative years that children test their ability to share feelings and thoughts and forge bonds with others, until what they learn becomes intuitive. Interacting with their peers and creating friendships teaches children a whole repertoire of social skills needed for life. When a child plays with a friend, he has to learn, for one, how to share. “This means being able to say ‘no’ to yourself,” says Cape Town-based child and adolescent psychotherapist Judy Davies. “It takes time to acquire the skill and usually the younger the child, the harder it is to learn.” Friendships also teach children to understand how a friend feels, to be able to see the issue from another’s
point of view. In relating to others you need to be willing to compromise, take turns and follow rules. Friendships also enable children to see how their peer group reacts to them, says educational psychologist Simona Maraschin, from Parkhurst, Johannesburg. “Positive feedback from peers means a child will feel accepted, secure and safe. Children need friends early on in order to test their ability to be independent, creative, spontaneous and autonomous,” she explains. In addition, friendships help children learn to trust and connect with others. Besides allowing children to discover different facets of their own personalities, friendships offer colour, warmth and diverse experiences. “Friends add so much to the enjoyment of life,” says Davies. “Friends show a growing child how relationships with non-family members enrich
your life. Critically, they also show how life outside the family can be safe and enjoyable.” And what of the issue of having a “best friend”? “Best friends only really become important in later primary school when personality starts to take shape, at around nine or 10 years old. Young children need a variety of friends,” says Davies. “There is however a difference between girls and boys: towards the end of preschool you’ll notice how girls prefer a ‘best’ friend or close friends while boys really love playing in a group.”
so long, not goodbye Aside from the valuable lessons children learn from friendships, they derive a lot of joy from their interaction with their peers. But what happens when friends have to
By RUTH REHBOCK
part company? Perhaps your child’s bosom buddy moves to a new neighbourhood or you have to move your child to another school. “How your child deals with a loss of this kind depends on a few factors,” says Maraschin. “These include the age of the children and whether or not they can continue seeing one another even though they are at different schools.” Nadine Milner, mom to 30-month-old twins Tegan and Dylan, and six-year-old Jordan lives in Bruma, Johannesburg. She decided it would be best if Jordan repeated middle group at preschool this year. “He had the physical skills he needed to go up but emotionally he wasn’t mature enough for Grade 0. The one thing that concerned me was that he would have no friends in the new class.”
It took three to four months before Jordan started making friends in his new class. “At first we tried to continue the friendships from the year before, however they stopped wanting to spend time with Jordan. In a way it was the best thing that could have happened. Right from the first day his new teacher made a point of telling me not to keep up the friendships with the children from the previous year. “It’s much more important for Jordan to make new friends in his new class,” she said. Nadine didn’t make a huge issue about Jordan making friends. When he told her no-one would play with him at school, she would ask about other times during the week when he did enjoy himself with a few classmates. “Gradually he started to talk about ‘special’ boys in his class and he sees them on play dates, but not every
Friendships also teach children to understand how a friend feels, to be able to see the issue from another’s point of view.
week. Jordan just needed time to find his feet, although there were times this year when I was very worried and asked the teacher to make sure he played with someone at break time.” Children mostly prefer to have friends in their class, but if parents are supportive there’s no need to lose contact with friends at other schools. “I feel it’s extremely valuable to keep in touch with friends, particularly for children of eight or nine and older. Primary school children start to need the security of friends,” says Davies. The Internet, email and phones make it easier to keep in touch today. You could, for instance, help your child Skype a friend who has moved to another country. “It’s critical to remind children of their friends who are not around every day – it’s definitely not a case of ‘out of sight out of mind’. In this way we teach children the value of relationships,” says Davies. Davies also believes that when a child’s friend changes schools (or your child does), it’s a good idea to mark the occasion with a small get-together. In this way, she says, you are acknowledging and validating your
child’s experience of the change or loss. However, she adds that, generally, the younger the child the sooner the contact breaks down.
learning to lose Although it’s hard to see our little ones hurting, learning to deal with loss is an essential life skill. Having a good support system will, however, make all the difference. “If you guide, support and assist your child to cope with the loss of a friend, they won’t crumble. In fact, having to make new friends will build social confidence and resilience,” comments Maraschin. Nine-year-old Koketso Lekganyene from Midrand had to change schools when he moved from Grade R to Grade 1. He didn’t know a single soul in his new class, but luckily he did make friends after a few months. “It was really difficult early in the year,” says his mother, Ellen. “Koketso was lonely and withdrawn and mostly kept to himself at school. Although I tried to push him to talk to his classmates he said they didn’t want to be with him. He didn’t want to go to birthday parties either.” Ellen persevered and managed to convince him to accept a few birthday party invitations. These slowly paved the way towards the establishment of friendships. “Once he’d been to a couple of parties where he relaxed and played with other children from the class, he spontaneously began to spend time with a couple of the children at school. It took around three to four months, but Koketso now has four firm friends.” So what else can parents do to support their child in making new friends? If she’s struggling to make friends in class, encourage her to take part in team activities such as soccer or enrol her for dancing, gymnastics or art classes (something in line with her interests), where there’s a safe but new “space” in which to foster friendships. Also arrange play dates for your child – but don’t go overboard. For a Grade 1 child, start by aiming for one joburg’s
Having to make new friends will build social confidence and resilience. play date a week. And for children who are missing their old friends, Maraschin offers the following advice: “if possible, keep contact with the friend outside school or slowly ‘wean’ a child of a friendship if the tie has to be severed completely.”
being prepared Dealing with losing a friend is often only one aspect of a larger change that your child might be going through. It may be part of a larger loss if the family moves to a new neighbourhood, city or another country. These moves would compound the loss for any child,” she says. “The best way to get through loss, if it’s expected, is to prepare your child for the change. “Talk about it and why it must happen but also be warned – your child may need to ‘grieve’,” says Maraschin.
“Talk to your child about his feelings. Accept and acknowledge whatever he feels, whether it’s anger, sadness or frustration. And if a child takes a knock in confidence, encourage new experiences and point out positive aspects of the change. Talk about his disappointments and comfort him when things don’t go smoothly,” she advises. It’s important to remember that our children will make friends on their own terms, in their own time and, if they lose a friend, will react in a personal way. As parents we may be able to help soften the bumps a little but your child is still going to have to ride them through. By helping them to negotiate their way successfully through the loss of a friendship and the building of new relationships, you are assisting them in gaining important skills for life.
reading matter A handful of helpful children’s books Friendship According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney What is Friendship: Games and Activities to Help Children to Understand Friendship by Pamela Day The Berenstain Bears Lose a Friend by Jan Berenstain and Stan Berenstain Arthur Loses a Friend by Marc Brown
think of school buses and I am transported to the back seat of my junior-school bus... the sound of tennis match victory songs filled the air as we chugged slowly along. And chugged indeed, we did, while the thenRhodesia (not a name I embrace) may have been proud of its ability to survive without support, this Cubanistic lifestyle led to a shortage of spare parts. So, perhaps, it was just luck that got us from one match to another in such a merry manner and, perhaps, we are luckier still that the land was devoid of dangerous hills and hairpin bends. Thankfully today, South African learners have strict government standards designed to protect them against worn brake pads and wonky wheel alignment, but is this enough? When I make contact with the Western Cape Department of Education they send me a checklist that every principal needs to sign before his learners are unleashed onto the local roads – impressive!
• • • • • • • • • • • • •
These are the checks that need to be taken: Is the approved vehicle indicated on the contract? Does the vehicle arrive on time? Is there a seat for each approved learner? Are there any unauthorised passengers, for example a parent, being transported? Is the licence disc visible and is proof available that the vehicle went for a six-monthly roadworthy test? Is the driver in possession of a valid driver’s licence and a public driver’s permit? Is the floor of the bus in a good condition? Are the seats mounted and in a good state of repair? Are the indicators in working order? Are the brake lights in working order? Are the brakes in working order? Are the headlights in working order? Are the doors opening and closing properly?
• Are the windows opening and closing properly? • Are there any other defects that endanger the learners? If yes, give a description. Then, in addition to this, the principal needs to cover these areas: • Bodywork: What is the general condition? • Floor: What is the general condition? • Seats: What is the general condition? • Tyres: What is the general condition? Despite these checks, school-bus accidents in South Africa are too common and often it is not the vehicle at fault, but negligent driving. Earlier last year it was reported that a Tshwane Metro Council bus driver apparently gave a schoolboy “a chance” to take the wheel of his bus. Learners exiting down the stairs of the double-decker bus were nothing short of alarmed to see a fellow schoolboy behind the wheel.
Donna Cobban shares some news and rules pertaining to school buses.
Although 25 years have passed since the Westdene Dam bus accident, it is impossible to forget the tragedy that took the lives of 42 school children. In this case, the mechanics of the bus were not at fault. The theory was that the driver blacked out – human error or something that perhaps could have been avoided had he been required to have a Public (or Professional) Driving Permit. Today any driver transporting people for profit is required to hold a PDP, the application of which involves both a medical and a police-clearance certificate. That said, you can have the safest bus and the best driver, but unless the learners are all traffic-savvy folk, who know how to cross a street safely, there will sooner or later be an accident. According to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in the United States, young school children are at high risk of being hit by a car when crossing the street because they: • cannot judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles. • are easily distracted and can focus only on one thing at a time. • cannot determine the direction of sounds. • have a visual field that is one-third narrower than an adult’s.
•d o not understand how much time and distance is necessary for a vehicle to stop. • are hidden by parked cars and bushes. In this country, it is up to parents to ensure that their children are streetwise and know how to behave when being transported en masse. Parents are encouraged to teach their children these rules (courtesy of Arrive Alive): • Enter the bus in single file. • When on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Loud talking or other noise can distract the driver. • Never put head, arms or hands out of the window. • Always listen to the driver’s instructions. Be courteous to the driver and other students. • Listen carefully when the driver or teacher shows you where the emergency exits are. • Keep aisles clear – books or bags can block the way in an emergency.
•N ever cross the street in front of the bus. • Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus. • Never run back to the bus, even if you dropped or forgot something. Years ago, while cruising the streets of New Mexico in a hired Jeep Cherokee, I was warned just in time not to pass the stationary school bus up ahead. I had to come to a complete standstill and wait for the bus to move or the driver to signal to motorists that they can proceed. Transgression could have seen me lumped with a hefty fine (in the region of around R10 000), imprisonment, community service and points deducted from my licence. These are strict laws, but ones that help to keep the 22-million North American school-bus users safe. It’s hard to imagine South African motorists ever being able to comply with such strict regulations, but it is certainly something to aspire to if it helps to keep our children safe.
when you are gone If something happened to you tomorrow, who would bring up your children? Take steps now to secure their future care, writes GLYNIS HORNING.
hen Sharon*, a 32-year-old Durban alternative-health therapist, died
boys had another father because he had so much else on his plate!”
after a short illness last year, she assumed her sons of seven and nine would keep living with her partner of the past five years, Riaan*. The soft-spoken 43-yearold teacher has sons of his own, aged six and 10, and the four are like brothers, he says. “Sharon’s ex left her for another woman when she was still pregnant with her younger boy, and except for paying maintenance, he’s taken virtually no interest in them. He’s a pressured businessman and once told me it was a relief that the
Yet within weeks of Sharon’s death her ex was demanding that his sons live with him, pressing for them to join him and his wife in Johannesburg. “I don’t know if it’s late-onset guilt and nostalgia – he wept buckets at Sharon’s funeral – but it’s killing me,” sighs Riaan. “He’s started smsing the boys, promising them material comforts and gizmos beyond those I could afford even if I approved of them. Sharon would have been horrified, but I don’t know what to do!”
The overriding provision the court will look for is the child’s best interests. – Candice Eve, associate, Shepstone & Wylie
This is typical of the dilemmas that can arise over child care (previously known as “custody”) – especially if you don’t understand the law or take what measures you can to make sure your wishes are carried out if you are no longer around. “Parents who are or have been married to each other, or who have never been married but where the biological father has qualified to have parental responsibilities and rights, are co-guardians of the child, unless one of them has been awarded sole guardianship to the exclusion of the other by a court,” says Judy Cloete, a director at Miller du Toit Cloete Inc in Cape Town. “In the ordinary course of events, the surviving parent becomes the sole natural guardian and carer of the child.”
fit and proper If you have sole care or sole guardianship (and orders granting this are rare, Cloete says), then (in terms of Section 27 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005), you can appoint a “fit and proper person” to have care or guardianship of the child if you die – but the appointment must be contained in your will. However, even if you’ve only been granted care (as opposed to sole care) of the child on divorce, your ex-spouse automatically obtains care on your death, cautions Mary O’Gorman, principal family advocate for KwaZulu-Natal. And if you nominate another person in your will to have care or guardianship, your ex-spouse will have to agree to give up the rights to these before the provisions of your will can take effect. The “overriding provision” the court will look for is the child’s best interests (protected by the South African Constitution and the Children’s Act), says Candice Eve, an associate at Shepstone & Wylie in Durban. “If your ex is a co-holder of parental rights and responsibilities, then yes, he will joburg’s
automatically gain care and guardianship of your child. But if he’s an unfit parent, the court may well afford care or guardianship to any other person who applies (under Section 23 or 24 of the Act).” The court must consider the commitment the person applying has shown towards the child, the extent to which they’ve contributed towards the child’s expenses, the relationship between the child and the person whose parental responsibilities and rights are being challenged, and any other fact the court feels should be taken into account.
rights and responsibilities “The handling of child care when a parent dies, as when there is a divorce, should be done in a way that keeps friction and unpleasantness to a minimum, and makes for as easy a transition as possible for the child, who will also be dealing with grief,” says Pearl Ramotsamai, a counsellor with FAMSA Durban. Deciding what you want for your child upfront, speaking to the major players if possible, and spelling out your wishes in your will are the best way to ensure that. “Any wish you have regarding the care of your child can be recorded in your will and will be enforceable, provided you have sole care and guardianship,” says Eve. But this will still be weighed against the rights of the other parent or other interested parties, such as the child’s grandparents, aunts or uncles. The right to care for your child is one of the parental rights and responsibilities assigned to a parent, says Eve. The Act defines “care” to include providing the child with a suitable place to live, safeguarding and promoting their wellbeing, protecting them from mistreatment, bringing them up, and “generally ensuring that their best interests are paramount”. August 2010
The older and more mature the child, the more their wishes would be taken into account. – Judy Cloete, director, Miller du Toit Cloete Inc
In most cases parties are given full or certain parental responsibilities and rights, says Cloete. These can include caring for the child, keeping contact with them, acting as their guardian and contributing to their maintenance. “If you have full parental rights, it’s taken to mean that you have all these rights and responsibilities,” says Eve.
the child’s rights Your child has rights too. “In terms of Section 31 of the Act, their views must be taken into account on any decision regarding the assignment of the caregiver or guardian,” Eve says. “And in terms of Section 10, every child of an age, maturity and stage of development able to participate in any matter concerning them has the right to do so in an appropriate way, and the views they express must be taken into consideration.” There’s no specific age at which a child can make their own decision, says Cloete, “but in practical terms, the older and more mature the child, the more their wishes would be taken into account”. For younger children, who also have the right to legal representation, the problem can often be overcome by “a skilled legal representative working together with a psychologist or social worker, to convey to the court the child’s views and wishes, and to give input on what’s in the best interest of the child in the circumstances”. If you die and your child’s other parent is no longer alive, surviving grandparents on either side can apply for the child’s care or guardianship, and the same criteria will apply as for any applicant, says Eve.
psychologically speaking When deciding who to give care of your child in a will, your prime considerations should be stability and security, says Ramotsamai. “Familiarity is very important, so encourage your child to spend time with these people if they don’t already.” If a child’s relationship with you ends, and they have no other strong, supportive, secure relationship, it’s been shown that they react with a greater need to control whatever other relationships they can come by, say Eleanor and Michael Willemsen in The Best Interest of the Child (published online by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics). To do this, the child may become preoccupied with getting and keeping the attention of caregivers, teachers and friends at the expense of growing their own wings and confidence. Or they may dismiss the importance of relationships, and focus on their activities and achievements at the expense of having fulfilling relationships. Either way, they risk having problems in adulthood with close relationships, parenting, and establishing a healthy balance between independence and closeness, warn the Willemsens. But there are other vital considerations too when deciding who should care for your child. Is this person willing and able to help them develop their skills, interests and character strengths? “Look closely at their own character, lifestyle and values,” says Ramotsamai. “Are these what you want for your child?” *Names have been changed.
willpower! “It’s vital to draw up a legal will, and the creation of a testamentary trust is a proficient way to ensure your family’s needs are catered for,” says Varsha Sewlal, head of office at the Master of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Durban. “If you die without a will, your estate will be settled in terms of the rules of Intestate Succession, and families are often torn apart by disputes over distribution of assets.” Sewlal’s office frequently deals with estates where a father dies and has had children with different mothers. “Often if provision is not made for all children, these children have difficulties accessing benefits,” she says. “On occasion we encounter mothers deliberately trying to exclude heirs. Should proper provision not be made, these children are at risk of not inheriting at all.” As a parent it’s your duty to provide to the best of your ability for your child, and a will can ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, Sewlal says. “It’s your final opportunity to do the right thing.” If you die without a will the proceeds from your estate are automatically vested in the Guardian’s Fund. Appointment of an executor and the verification process are often lengthy, delaying access to funds from the Guardian’s Fund. “Dying without a will is tantamount to throwing your child to the wolves,” Sewlal says. “A will can ease tensions and distress, leave certainty for your loved ones and diffuse infighting.”
Besides a will, every parent should form a trust to see to the needs of minor children. “A trust can stipulate the specific arrangements you wish to make,” she says. Keep in mind that the biological parent is always the natural guardian, but, as explained earlier, care (custody) can be awarded by the High Court on application in the best interests of the child.
like father like son SIVIWE MINYI wonders about how he’s shaping his son’s understanding of what it is to be a man.
human too Our bookshop conversation got me thinking about how I was going to honour and respect my son’s emerging masculinity. He has already begun to develop a picture of heroes from some of the books he reads and the DVDs he occasionally watches, and these give him an idea of what it means to be a man. But a lot of masculinity is not “taught” but “caught”. This means that I need to be modelling something of value.
It’s okay to cry. These are not girl matters. They belong to us as people. Broadly speaking, society expects men to be physically strong and emotionally robust and never show signs of “weakness”. Boys are encouraged to imitate older boys and men, and discouraged from imitating girls and women. But I so wanted him to realise that he’s human. I have
told him that it’s fine to be attached to a particular doll or a teddy bear. And that it’s okay to cry. These are not girl matters. They belong to us as people. When I first raised this, he found it a little funny. That was before he witnessed me dealing with being bitten by a dog. That day I cried. He cried too. I also saw how he winced in pain when he was tackled while playing his first rugby match. Today we respond to what we feel. At this level, I feel that my son and I have connected.
show some respect The “girls-are-smelly” comment got me thinking about how my son is learning to treat people. Specifically, how he is learning to treat women. Children learn from their parents and those around them, and he is already learning lessons from his sister, who is three years older than he is. One day I overheard them having a discussion about respect. “Listen to me,” said his sister with an assertive voice, “look at the way our father speaks to mummy: he is full of respect and does not fight with her.”
e caught me by surprise. We had just started perusing the shelves of a well-known bookshop, when my then five-year-old son Okuhle shouted from the other end of the shop: “Come on, chief, those books are for girls – there are real books on this side.” A few people turned to look at me. I hid my embarrassment and responded: “Okay, I’m on my way…” “Girls smell, you know, and I don’t like their books,” he continued. I laughed, which was my way of hiding the serious realisation that my son had started to create a picture in his mind about the world of boys and men. Visiting a bookshop is a monthly ritual for my son and me. Our brief interaction there opened the door to an interesting topic: boys and how they relate to others. In that moment I became fully aware of just how much the roots of boys’ behaviour lies in broader culture and what happens in their homes. And it made me realise that I need to acknowledge and be proactive about my role and responsibility in shaping Okuhle’s understanding of what it is to be a man.
A lot of masculinity is not “taught” but “caught”. This means that I need to be modelling something of value. I was stunned, and humbled. It brought home the idea that before fathers can teach sons about respect and nonviolent behaviour, we need to be modelling it. And, given the high levels of domestic violence in our country, this is very important. One morning he said to me: “Chief, I would like to be respectful of all people. I shall try just like you.” This is a lifelong lesson, one he will practise for the rest of his life. This lesson says that girls should never be hit, and that he should stand up for those who are bullied in class.
lessons on the field It also got me thinking about how I am helping to build my son’s character. There have been times when my son has been selected as captain of his school cricket team. This requires him to show leadership and discipline. Boys at this age tend to be competitive and winning is all-
important. When they lose, it is as if the world has come to an end. Okuhle and I have watched a number of cricket and soccer matches together. On those occasions I have asked him to watch how the captains behave in the presence of the opposing team, and to take note of how captains are appreciative of others. (It’s not an easy lesson to teach because on the field boys are expected to play on the other team’s fears and weaknesses.) Then at the end of every match we exchange notes about what he has learnt. The outcome has been fascinating. He speaks of captains who encourage and praise teammates; of captains who take responsibility when their team loses. Sometimes the captain of a winning team will speak highly of the opposition. I then challenge my son to practise this even when he is not captain – to seek to praise and acknowledge any effort from the opponent.
We have also spent time looking at stories of sportsmen who have decided to be honest even when the call will go against them. One such story we shared involves tennis star Andy Roddick who, in May 2005, performed one of the greatest gestures of sportsmanship on a tennis court. Roddick, leading 5-3 in the second set, had a triple match point, and his opponent, Fernando Verdasco, was about to serve. Verdasco’s serve appeared to land just wide and was called out by the linesperson. Roddick, however, called the ball in, after checking the mark on the clay court and conceded the second-serve ace to Verdasco. Verdasco went on to win the match. The lesson: Roddick may have lost the match but he gained credibility and trust. He also gained a lot of respect from people for his selfless act. I can’t wait for another visit to our favourite bookshop. I sense another lesson coming on.
What would happen if, at the tender age of eight, puberty interrupted your child’s carefree years? SASHA CUFF sheds some light on this condition.
recocious puberty is the medical term given to puberty when it occurs at an unusually early age, namely before seven in girls, and nine in boys. It affects around one percent of children and is often the sign of an underlying health problem. Dr Ariane Spitaels, paediatrician and endocrinologist at Red Cross Children’s and Groote Schuur Hospitals and UCT’s Department of Paediatrics explains: “Precocious puberty is not in itself life-threatening but the cause of it might be.” A further reason for concern is that a common side effect of this condition is stunted growth. “Young children who develop precocious puberty will initially be taller than their peers while it is happening, but the growth spurt will have occurred too soon and, with no possibility of further growth afterwards, will result in short adults,” explains Spitaels. The younger the child the worse this will be. Dr Chris van Wyk, paediatrician at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban agrees. “Puberty is a fluid phase of growth, so the later it starts the better the growth possibility of the individual person. If puberty starts at, for example, five years of age, the individual could stop growing by the age of eight, which is why it is very important to treat it.”
Theories include the increase of obesity (fat is a source of oestrogen), the presence of phytoestrogens in soya, and the addition of hormones to the diet of animals bred for food. However, there is no clear answer for this increase.” Girls with a high-fat diet who are not active do seem to mature physically ahead of their male counterparts, and early puberty in girls can sometimes point to exposure to chemicals that mimic oestrogen, known as xenoestrogens. A common culprit is a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), found in hard plastics and frequently used to make baby bottles, water bottles, sports equipment, and medical devices. BPA mimics and interferes with the action of oestrogen, and exposure may affect the prostate gland or mammary gland, and lead to early puberty. Another theory being considered is overexposure to TV sets, PC consoles and video games, as the light emitted from these devices can interfere with the production of melatonin, known to delay the onset of puberty. In a European study, children who watched an average of three hours of TV a night, were denied access to TV, computers and video games for a week. Interestingly, at the end of the experiment it was discovered that their melatonin levels had risen sharply. In a minority of cases, precocious puberty can be triggered by a more serious underlying health problem. “Something in the head switches on a ‘clock’ that starts off the process,” explains Spitaels. “This can be something long-standing, such as cerebral palsy or brain injury following an accident. It can also be caused by meningitis or other conditions that may affect the brain in some way, such as neurofibromatosis.” Occasionally, brain tumours can cause precocious puberty, but may not in themselves require treatment. However, in most children, it is simply a matter of premature timing in Mother Nature’s usually smooth running of events.
finding the cause There are a variety of opinions about the causes of precocious puberty. In some instances, diet has been cited, yet there doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence to support this theory. Says Spitaels: “It isn’t clear that meat from animals fed with hormones is linked to precocious puberty, although there was a community that blamed hormone-fed battery chickens for a number of cases of early breast development.” Dr Nicoletta Hay, paediatrician at the Morningside Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg agrees. “It is clear that over the past 50 years, breast development does seem to be starting earlier, although the onset of menstruation seems to remain the same.
In most children, it is simply a matter of premature timing in Mother Nature’s usually smooth running of events.
“Variations in pubertal development, which are usually more benign, include familial early puberty – where the family has a history of early development,” elaborates Hay. “Some children have isolated breastbud development or pubic-hair development without other hormonal signs,” she adds. In other instances, the testes or ovaries produce sex hormones without being stimulated by the controlling areas in the brain. These occurrences are more unusual and more difficult to manage. “In countries where this condition is not screened for in babies, an inheritable genetic condition occurring in males, called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, sometimes presents as precocious puberty,” says Spitaels. Girls may also be afflicted by this condition but it is detectable much earlier because they start to develop masculine features. Whatever the cause, a child showing signs of early puberty needs to be seen by a paediatrician. If the doctor can confirm that the changes are definitely being caused by hormonal influences, referral to a paediatric endocrinologist is mandatory. The treatment and prognosis will depend on the cause. “True precocious puberty is mostly treated with hormones,” explains Hay. “Certain hormonal treatments are prescribed to halt the process by neutralising the pubertal hormone. However, these too have side effects and so the administering of these drugs has to be carefully monitored,” adds Van Wyk. If the problem stems from the brain, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue is prescribed in the form of an intramuscular injection given every three months (or monthly, if a quicker and stronger effect is needed). As with all intramuscular injections, it carries some risks and is painful. “We generally stop this treatment at about the age that other children start puberty, or sometimes when the treatment becomes too difficult to bear,” explains Spitaels. “If the problem is in joburg’s
the testes or ovaries, we try to block the production of the sex hormones, or block the places where they work.”
being different Although children with precocious puberty are certain to need strong parental support, they almost all require additional counselling to help them come to terms with what is happening to them. “I would advise that children diagnosed with this condition always be referred to a psychologist to help them manage this emotionally,” says Van Wyk. Spitaels adds: “Being different is always a challenge. I believe the children need to hear, as much as possible, all the brilliant things about themselves, and how much they are loved and admired. They also need to be reassured that they will be supported during what is happening to them. The injections can loom large, but I am continually amazed at how much courage the children show with these.”
showing support Some tips for helping children through the uncertainty of a changing body when none of their peers are experiencing the same: • Be open and honest about what is happening. • Discuss the condition in a way that suits the age and maturity of your child. • Explain that it is neither wrong nor shameful to be different. • Reaffirm the love and bond between you and your child. • Boost your child’s confidence by highlighting her strengths and capabilities. • Encourage good communication and the ability to express feelings and emotions.
higher learning If you’re hoping your child will go on to university after finishing school, here are some things to think about. By TAMMY SUTHERNS and SUSAN TISSIMAN
or many parents the stress of paying for university fees or student loans, making sure that their children follow a desirable path, pass their courses and ultimately get a job, can be a complicated and confusing process. For Cape Town mom, Jeanette*, who has two sons aged 25 and 23, who graduated from the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University respectively, it has been a long journey. “The economic crisis makes the financing of university studies more difficult,” she says. “Fortunately student loans are available but it does put extreme pressure on the student if he has to take a full loan for the whole degree. Especially if he is not guaranteed a job at the end. Our boys had loans for their last year and we paid off the interest so that the burden won’t be so great when they start out.” Getting a degree, however, doesn’t guarantee your child a job. “Finding a good job isn’t easy with or without a degree,” says Jeanette. Her eldest son, who graduated from UCT with a post-graduate diploma in accounting has managed to sign with a company and her youngest son is looking
to continue studying, hoping to obtain a post-graduate degree in human kinetics and ergonomics. This could further his chances of getting a higher paid job. She says, “My thinking has been that for a young man entering the job market, it would be better to further his studies rather than work in a pub. I have to admit that this is probably wrong – perhaps it’s better to get a degree and then get out into the world and try anything.”
“withStartthem,doingnotresearch for them.
For Geoff Waugh, aged 25, his interests were never in university: “I didn’t want to come to varsity at all! I thought that if Richard Branson didn’t need a degree, then I didn’t.” Geoff started a computerrepair business as soon as he finished school, but when it didn’t work out, he enrolled in Rhodes University to ease his parents’ worries. “My parents thought that I was missing out on making new friends and contacts. I went to Rhodes, the only university that let me in. After a year I was elected senior student for my residence but I quickly grew bored.” Within joburg’s
months Geoff and his best friend Dan got a licence for the tuck shop in their university residence and started a pizzeria in their bedroom. “We were promptly closed down for violating some obscure bylaw.” Undeterred, the duo soon signed a lease for a property across the road from campus: “Pirates Pizza was born. We knew our friends weren’t spending most of their money on pizza, so we wanted to start a bar. At this point our academics were failing but business was flying. I spoke to my father and, being self-employed himself, he supported my decision to drop out.” Geoff and Dan now have a bar/ pizzeria in an entertainment venue in Grahamstown. Geoff says, “It’s hard work, but a lot of fun. I don’t regret my decision. I think if I were to try and get a job it may be difficult because I don’t have a degree, but I would hope that an employer would
bachelor of what?
look at the big picture: I have shown I can build a successful bar and pizzeria, with a capacity of 600 people, from a bedroom.”
about what their children plan to do after school, it is often difficult to know where to start. A lot of schools or psychologists offer aptitude tests, which helps both
For parents and their children, another decision to make is what type of degree or qualification to study towards. There are mainstream universities but then there are also institutions like techs, Varsity College, UNISA and colleges. Leigh Penzhorn, a 26-year-old Capetonian who works in Public Relations, got a diploma through correspondence and says that is very different to getting a degree through full-time university study. She says, “The only reason I studied PR through UNISA is because they did not offer it at UCT or any other university and it was important for me to be able to work at the same time as study. I think some people really need lectures, like maths or accounting students, but there are other degrees which are self explanatory and can be studied on your own.” For parents who have to start thinking
smooth sailing Tips for helping your child choose the right course and university • Many schools offer invaluable career guidance that includes job shadowing opportunities and psychometric and aptitude testing. Encourage your child to take advantage of these. • Many universities also offer assistance and ser vices to prospective students, who are choosing between degrees and institutions. These are worth looking for on the web, otherwise contact the university to set up an appointment with an advisor. • Help your child consider his talents, interests and strengths. Choosing a degree/course with these in mind can ensure that your child is both passionate about the work and stimulated by it. • Make sure your child attends the open days of the universities they
are interested in – look on the university websites for dates. Open days generally occur from April to August. The open days will allow your child to see the universities, and interact with the faculties and current students. • If it’s important to you or your child, find out which universities are internationally recognised. • The structure and teaching style of some universities may suit some and not others. Correspondence courses allow for flexibility and the ability to work part time, as well as much lower fees. However, these have none of the social components that other universities have. Some institutions have more structure than others and are better suited to students that need more direction and stability.
children and parents to get an idea of the child’s interests and strengths. This can help in terms of knowing what the best area of study would be for them. Cape Town counselling psychologist, Bhamini Rugnathji, encourages parents to do a lot of research, talking to their children about their strengths; “start talking about options with your children
when they are in about Grade 10 and when they have decided on their subject choices, as this affects which degree programme they can get into.” The next step is to start researching different institutions and the degrees or qualifications that they offer as well as the fees. Schools also often have career days when different institutions come in
getting in How to make the application process easier • Find out the application deadlines for the universities your child is applying to (most fall between June and October) and where to get application forms (electronically/at schools/at the university). • Your child will need to get a certain number of points to be accepted in a particular course, and may need to have taken certain subjects. It helps to know these requirements early on. They may also serve as motivation for achieving a certain standard in the Grade 12 exams. • Some universities accept submissions of application forms online, while others require the form to be delivered by hand or mail. • An increasing number of universities require or strongly recommend
that prospective students write access tests or national benchmark tests as well as sending in their application. In past years it has been highly beneficial that students write these tests as doing so often ensures early acceptance. The tests are offered in various cities several times throughout the year, usually beginning in May – booking is often required. • Pay all application fees and acceptance-of-offer fees if your chosen university requires these, so as not to delay acceptance to the university. • Find out all dates of open days, tests, application deadlines and other important events on university websites and diarise them at the beginning of the year.
and explain what they offer. The Internet is also a fantastic tool for research. Bhamini advises, “Don’t make this a stressful conversation; adolescents change their minds a lot. Be patient and encourage their strengths. Start doing research with them, not for them.”
money talk University fees can swallow a huge chunk of your annual income. Ideally you’ll have been putting a little money away over the years for your child’s tertiary education, but if not, and if your budget doesn’t stretch to cover things, your child may need to take a student loan for some or all of her studies. Another option is that she studies via correspondence and works at the same time. See “the price of education” on page 41 for an indication of fees. The fees can seem daunting and then there are still living costs to consider, but in comparison to some of the highly regarded foreign universities, you can breathe a sigh of relief, however small. Harvard’s fees start at $34 000 a year, that’s a whopping R260 000.
what you know and who you know Some say that one of the primary benefits of getting a degree is the contacts and relationships you make while studying.
Cape Town attorney, Alvhin Adendorff got his bachelor’s degree at UCT, his law degree through UNISA and his tax honours degree at UCT. With regards to university networks, he says, “in any field it is important to build social and business networks because reputation and word of mouth are still one of the most effective ways of attracting business. A university does provide a prime environment to create those networks – because there are people of different backgrounds with different interests who will eventually end up in key positions in the working world. It is quite possible to create those networks without attending a university, but it is much easier at a university given the concentration of qualified people.” In addition Alvhin stresses the importance of studying, “It is important to work hard at your studies because the formal qualifications you get will make you eligible for better career opportunities. It is even more important though to cultivate the habit of learning, and obtaining a degree or diploma is an excellent way to do this. Learning is something that happens throughout a career no matter which business you end up in. If you enjoy learning you will continue to develop personally and professionally, and improve your chances of a successful and fulfilling life.”
the price of education Here’s an indication of the fees at 10 local universities. Please note these are annual fees for 2010, expect an 8–11% increase per year. Universities
University of Cape Town (UCT) For more info visit: uct.ac.za
R29 500 – R35 000
University of Stellenbosch For more info visit: sun.ac.za
University of Pretoria (Tuks) For more info visit: up.ac.za
R17 650 – R25 350
R19 750 – R30 500
University of Witwatersrand (Wits) For more info visit: wits.ac.za
R18 295 – R26 900
R28 190 – R34 010
University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) For more info visit: ukzn.ac.za
R19 370 – R21 670
R17 440 – R24 170
Rhodes University For more info visit: ru.ac.za University of South Africa (UNISA) For more info visit: unisa.ac.za University of Johannesburg (UJ) For more info visit: uj.ac.za University of the Free State (UFS) For more info visit: uovs.ac.za Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) For more info visit: nmmu.ac.za
Range of all university courses: R24 390 – R31 740 from R9 660 R17 400 – R21 440 R14 738 R8 080 – R23 970
from R11 304 R17 760 – R20 590 R16 869 R15 700 – R24 230
Other money related matters include: • In addition to fees, the following need to be factored into the budget: residence costs, which are about R30 000/year (including meals), or rent and food; textbooks and stationery, which can cost up to R5 500; and transport costs. • Many South African universities have non-refundable application fees ranging from R150 to R300 (these tend to increase with late applications). Failing to pay these may delay acceptance of applications. • Most universities require a portion of the fees at the beginning of the academic year. This payment is necessary for the student to register successfully. • Some universities offer discounts on fees to families that have many children studying at the same institution. • Many universities offer bursaries to students, not only for good school results, but also for continued good results at university. So high achieving students will be required to pay less in fees than others. • All universities have financial-aid departments and prospective students should look into the requirements to qualify for aid.
culture studies Two boys are treated to a backpacking adventure – and lessons in the school of the world, by NINA MENSING-CHALLIS.
Europe a couple of times. But our goal remained: we wanted to backpack around Thailand with our sons. Having hitchhiked our way through many an African and Asian country, we were not afraid of backpacking and the last thing we would do was book a prearranged tour. Even prebooking a hotel room was alien to us. However, this time was different. We now had two boys in tow, and just 25 days. Waiting on the side of the road for two days for a lift, or a week for a cheaper ticket (as one does when backpacking), was no longer an option. We wanted to fit as much as possible into the school holidays, as well as teach our sons the fine art of travelling.
midnight in Bangkok On finalising our tickets, I realised that we’d be arriving in Bangkok at midnight. In a city that never sleeps, that’s not a problem. But finding accommodation on the spur of the moment with a jetlagged 9- and 12-year-old might not be such fun. So I searched online and found a guesthouse within walking distance of Khao San Road (my favourite hangout) for the first two nights. From there we would find our own way. Before we left I bought the boys books on Thailand, and we watched James Bond’s The Man with a Golden Gun to get them into the mood for the canals in Bangkok and the islands along the coast.
PHOTOGRAPHS: NINA MENSING-CHALLIS
Julian with desecrated Buddhist carvings (due to a comeback in Hinduism in the late 13th century)
hen I found myself pregnant in Thailand at age 23, having just spent two years travelling and working our way around South East Asia, we were not ready to head back to South Africa and set up home. There was still so much of the world to see. So we planned to have the baby, then fly back to Thailand and continue our backpacking journey around the world. Clearly we had no idea! Before we knew it, 12 years had passed and we still had not made it back to the “Land of Smiles”. In those 12 years we had got married, had another son, started a business or two, bought and sold a property or two, and even made it to
The 12-hour bus journey from k Siem Reap, Cambodia, bac to Bangkok,Thailand
(We decided against showing them The Beach, for obvious reasons.) I knew my oldest son, Tyrone, would take everything in his stride – the travel bug had bitten him at eight, when I had taken him to Germany. My youngest son, though, liked his routine and comforts. For him, life’s good if there’s a Woolworths macaroni and cheese within easy reach. When on our first day in Bangkok Julian tasted his first Thai chicken curry and loved it, my husband and I both breathed a sigh of relief!
another world Within a few minutes of stepping off the plane the boys were thrust into another world. We
Our sons learned invaluable lessons: sign language, bargaining, respect for another’s religion and culture, and map reading.
bargained with a taxi driver to take us into town, and he spent the hour’s drive trying to convince us to stay at his friend’s hotel rather than the one we had booked. It feels like every Thai taxi driver has a friend who owns a hotel – and a restaurant, and a shop for jewellery or clothes. The boys quickly learned the fine art of not being a pushover while still remaining courteous. As we found our way around Bangkok, our sons learned invaluable lessons: sign language, bargaining, respect for another’s religion and culture, and map reading. They also fine tuned their times tables while bargaining for souvenirs. Tyrone and Julian loved taking their shoes off and stepping quietly into temples. Their immediate
respect and reverence impressed me. Inbetween, of course, there was the usual bickering, a whine or two or three (let’s be honest here) and the occasional sulk. But, with the humidity and temperature nothing like we’d ever experienced before, that’s to be expected. It was while travelling up the River Kwai to a floating jungle camp that we really noticed how at home our children were. They loved catching motorbikes and tuktuks, and bouncing along on the back of trucks and buses. They were also enjoying the process of deciding where we’d spend the night, and shopping for food at the markets. Spurred on by this, we decided to brave a journey into Cambodia.
Food at a floating market near Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Julian and Tyrone making dren friends with Cambodian chil
Monks in front of the Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Visiting the temples of Angkor Wat had been a lifelong dream of ours, and journeying into the unknown was the type of travelling I loved. However, I was concerned about safety, and how the children were going to last on the 12-hour bus journey into a very third-world country. I need not have worried. As soon as they found their seats on a bus, they’d settle down, pull out their books and just make do. On one long bus trip they had to sit on our backpacks in the aisle for most of the journey – there were two seats without passengers, but these were taken up by the bus driver’s large religiousfestival decorations. Whenever the bus overheated we would come to a halt, the driver would get out a bucket, fill it up with stagnant water from a roadside
Some days we would get into a longboat and ask the driver to take us to a quiet snorkelling spot.
ditch, and use it to cool down the engine. Every once in a while we’d stop at a small town and shop for snacks and drinks at the roadside stalls. Looking out of the window, we watched as children helped their parents eke out a living from the dry earth. Pigs were shuttled to market on the backs of motorbikes that passed our bus at breakneck speed.
making connections On one bus trip a Canadian backpacker, who could only have been a teacher in his former life, kept the boys busy for eight hours straight, with games of hangman, eye-spy, plus jokes and tales of Canadian snow. When backpacking, it is often other travellers that enrich your experience. It was in Cambodia that the boys really
interacted with local children, many of whom help their parents make a living by selling trinkets or cool drinks at the temples and on local transport. At the temples of Angkor Wat Julian made friends with a boy his age. They teased each other in their own made-up sign language, mixed with a sprinkling of English, Thai and Cambodian words. It was clear, even through the language and culture barrier, that had these two been at the same school, they would have been best friends. We also saw small children begging at the border, scrambling for scraps in between the dust and wheels of trucks being checked by border officials. Now when my children don’t want to eat their food and I say to them: “there are starving children in the world who would do anything
Julian chatting to a monk at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Waiting for the bus to Bangkok from Kanchanaburi, Thailand
to have a plate of food like that, so eat up!” they know exactly what I’m talking about. By the time we got down to the islands off the west coast of Thailand, our boys were seasoned backpackers. They could bargain like Thai stall holders, spend hours waiting at a border post or for a bus without moaning, eat anything and sleep anywhere – even on the front of a longboat or while hanging on to the back of a tuk-tuk. They happily unpacked wherever we spent the night, making a comfortable space for themselves in the sparse rooms of our bamboo-stilt houses on the beach. Within an hour of arriving anywhere they had made friends with the locals, and were comfortable enough to venture off and order from food stalls. We spent our days
at their will. Being backpackers meant that we decided in the moment what to do next and where to spend the night. Some days we would get into a longboat and ask the driver to take us to a quiet snorkelling spot. We rented dive gear and gave them dive lessons along a quiet reef. We canoed to James Bond-like islands, spending the day on deserted beaches. Tyrone made friends with a local rock-climbing guide, who took us climbing for the day at no cost to us, so impressed was he by Tyrone’s interest and skill in climbing.
go with the flow We were glad we could just do what we liked, when it suited us. If we did not like what we saw, we moved on to the next place. There were a few things that had
looked interesting when searching on the Internet prior to our trip, but once there appeared to be just another tourist trap. Arriving in Koh Phi Phi, for instance, I was immediately disappointed. It was full of tattooed gap-year youngsters getting as drunk as possible in the sun, and Thai touts trying to get us to stay at their uncles’ guesthouses. We hopped straight onto a longboat and set off around the island to find a quieter spot. A tranquil bay, accessible only by boat, with a few bamboo huts and a little restaurant, all family-run, was the perfect stop for a few days. We never felt unsafe or got sick. We travelled on our motto “if there are people who live like this, so can we” getting to appreciate our life back at home that much more by doing so.
A monk blessing a family in Cambodia
growing solution seekers to enjoy solving problems from C.J. SIMISTER’s The Bright Stuff.
e all wish we could do more to help when our children are worrying about a problem they’ve got to face. One way is to step in and sort it all out for them. But diving in means not helping our children to build up their own set of problem-solving skills. What if, instead, we taught our children to replace the word “problem” with “challenge”? Of course, it would have to be backed up with action. Instead of hiding
our problems from our children, looking stressed or leaping around in a frenzy, what if they saw us smiling (wryly will do), rolling up our sleeves and settling down to do some serious thinking, at least some of the times when we’re facing challenges of our own? What if they heard us talking through the different options, weighing them up and working out how best to move forward? Imagine growing up with that sort of proactive mindset, knowing that tricky
situations are bound to come along but that it’s nearly always possible, with a bit of ingenuity and positive thinking, to find a solution. The answer is out there somewhere. It just needs finding! How different would that child be from the one who was told not to worry when something went wrong, that mom or a teacher or someone would sort it all out for them? If we can help our children to enjoy solving problems – to know that they’ve
got what it takes to find that creative solution – then what a great attitude that would be to take with them into the adult world. That’s not to say that every problem will be solved – but there are often more things than we realise that are within our control. Here are eight fabulous games to nurture your child’s extraordinary mind and encourage them to grow in creative problem solving…
PHOTOGRAPHS: THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM, ILLUSTRATIONS: MARIETTE BARKHUIZEN
Playful ways to teach your children
Imagine growing up knowing that tricky situations are bound to come along but that it’s nearly always possible, with a bit of ingenuity, to find a solution. 1
One great way of helping young children to begin solving their own problems is to introduce them to a “thinking friend”. Start by inviting your child to select a few suitable toys whose “personalities” seem to fit with particular thinking talents. Your child might, for instance, pick three toys, one for each of these thinking talents: asking interesting questions; coming up with lots of creative ideas; and making wise decisions. Imagine your child has found three toys. You’ve got a toy cat, for instance, who’s always getting herself into trouble because of her curiosity – she just can’t stop asking questions and trying to find the answers. Then there’s a squirrel puppet, who is very creative and can be relied upon to come up with 10 ideas for every situation or challenge that arises. And finally, there’s that old tatty elephant, who
is so wise that all the other toys come to him whenever a sensible decision needs to be made. You get the idea (and your child will do far better than I have!). Next time a particular problem arises – for example, your child needs to work out what to do about a tricky friendship issue at school – you can line up the relevant toy or toys and turn to them for help. You might get your child to imagine what sort of questions the cat would like to ask about the situation. Once you’ve used this tactic to build a clearer picture of the facts, then it might be time to involve the squirrel. How many different possible solutions can she come up with? It doesn’t matter how crazy they are. The great thing about the creative stage of the thinking process is that children feel liberated by not having to second-guess what will be considered a sensible solution and what might sound silly.
Next, what would happen if we took two or three of these options to the elephant? What do you think he might say were their good points? What might he think wasn’t so good about them? By providing a one-step-removed way of tackling a situation, we create a less threatening environment in which to discuss what might otherwise be quite
delicate problems. It’s somehow much easier for a child to be asked to consider what someone else might be thinking about a situation than to reveal their own thoughts. And it’s also more fun! There are several variations on this activity. If your child’s not one for soft toys – or if they’ve a particularly vivid imagination – they might prefer to dream up and draw a separate magical creature for each thinking talent. They could give them suitable names and you could have fun making up some stories together that show them putting their super-skills into practice.
the problem-solving plan
Why not make an “Our Family’s Problem-Solving Plan” poster to put up somewhere in your home? Your child could help you by typing it up and illustrating it. Steps could be something like this:
1. T hink aloud. Who can I talk to about this problem? 2. Collect the facts. What do I know about the situation? Is there anything else I need to find out? 3. Check that the problem really is a problem. Might I be jumping to conclusions? Could there be another explanation for the facts? 4. Gather ideas. How many opinions and possible solutions can I think of? How many can I find out from other people? 5. Pick a course of action. Weighing up the pros and the cons, which is the best plan to choose? If it’s a bit daunting and is likely to take some time, try breaking it up into smaller steps. 6. If possible, give it a little time to “sit” in the mind. Might I change my mind if I sleep on it? How do I feel an hour, a day or two later (depending on urgency, of course)? 7. Don’t waste time. If it’s the right thing to do, it’s time to go for it! Having a strop, panicking or watching TV won’t help. Help your child to recognise that they’ve done the best they can – they’ve acted in a logical way and have given time and effort to finding the best way forward. If the solution doesn’t work, at least it was the best one they had. There will always be other factors outside of their control that may get in the way – they shouldn’t be ashamed if it goes wrong.
creative thinking backwards
If you’re helping your child to work through a problem situation, once you’ve both got all the facts at your fingertips then it’s time to do a bit of “creative thinking backwards”. Are there any other explanations for the situation – is the problem really a problem? I’ve used these
questions with eight- and nine-year olds, as a chance to explore the sort of conclusions young children are prone to jumping to (for example, “My best friend isn’t talking to me – it must be because she hates me”, “I saw a shadow in the corner – it must have been a ghost!”, “I’ve scored badly in the test – it’s because I’m terrible at maths”). One approach is to give your child a big sheet of paper with their problem written in the middle. Encourage them to think of as many explanations for this situation as they can – not just the one they immediately assumed was true. Taking the examples above, children come up with all sorts of ideas, such as “My best friend might be worrying or thinking about something else”, “What I saw was probably just the curtain moving” and “My test score might have been low because I never understood fractions and didn’t ask my teacher to help me”. The great thing is that it seems to take remarkably little practice to develop this mindset. All you have to say are the trigger words, “What other explanations might there be?”, and you’ll get a whole list of possibilities. Of course this activity can be done verbally too and is very useful at bedtime (as is the one below), if your child tends to worry about things before they fall asleep.
creative thinking forwards
If there really are no plausible alternative explanations and the problem really is a problem, then next comes the “creative thinking forwards” part: how many different possible courses of action are there? What could your child do to make the situation better? What could your child suggest others do? If necessary, what could you do? This stage should be completely free of judgment: all ideas, even
rise to the challenge Quick tips to growing creative problem-solvers • When your child has a problem, don’t leap in with an answer. Try to give them space to work things out for themselves. But help by all means – by listening, sympathising, if necessary, perhaps sometimes by repeating and clarifying what they’re saying, maybe asking occasional questions or prompting them to consider alternative solutions. Show you understand their worries and feelings. • Encourage your child to believe that, nine times out of 10, they will be able to find a solution if they put the effort in. Prompt their thinking by saying things such as: “Wow – that really is a challenge! But I bet if anyone can sort it out, you can.” Or “You’re great at solving problems! Why not start by coming up with as many possible solutions as you can – it doesn’t matter how silly they sound – and then we could think through them together and see if you can spot the winner?” • Teach your child to take responsibility for situations that arise. Teach them to work out how they came about, to accept their own role if they had a part in them and to set about considering all the different possible solutions that they can think of. Turn it into a creative thinking game. It’s a mindset – and one that you have a real chance to influence. • Encourage your child to consider the problem from different points of view. • Show your child that you trust and value their problem-solving skills by asking their advice – where appropriate – when you are facing a problem of your own.
the silly ones, should be included. Consider similar problems faced before – how did you tackle them? Is there anything that can be learned from past experiences?
saved the day!
your challenge is to…
Make it a family tradition that you praise your children whenever they “save the day” by doing something ingenious. For example, you’ve forgotten your keys, so how are you going to get into the house? The table’s wobbly, so what should we do about it? The bolt’s stuck and there’s someone panicking in the bathroom! How can we get them out? You get the idea. Basically, whenever you find yourself momentarily stumped by one of those day-to-day crises, instead of making a quick decision yourself, be prepared to give it a bit more time and involve your children. It gives them a real sense of importance within the family and builds their own belief in themselves as problem-solvers. They’ll also love keeping a tally of who’s saved the day the most times.
This is a quick game that can be played anywhere and that is always good fun. Take it in turns to set each other entirely outrageous challenges. Things such as: How do you build an igloo in a desert? How can you kidnap an elephant in broad daylight? How might you escape from an underwater cave when you’ve got no diving equipment? (Your child will be able to come up with many more!) The task is then to come up with a five-step plan to achieve the impossible.
A simple but effective strategy for generating and visualising the series of logical steps required to solve a problem is to use a flow diagram. The great thing about this strategy is that children can learn to scribble one of these on any
scrap of paper, with as few or as many boxes as they wish. The boxes can be any shape or size, with arrows between them to show their order. They can contain words, pictures or both – it depends on your child. We often take for granted our planning skills, but children of all ages tend to find this really challenging. Get your child to draw a flow diagram of preparations for a real-life event, such as a birthday party or a holiday. Setting the activity within a genuinely meaningful context like this will help your child to see the value of the technique – and it has the advantage of seeming less like a school lesson. For the deeper thinker try making this activity more challenging by applying it to something more abstract; for instance, can your child draw a flow chart to show how to become a genius or how to make the world a better place? If your child is particularly artistic, their diagram could be illustrated and turned into a poster to put on the wall.
Why not set your children a practical problem-solving challenge? For instance: Make a device to protect an egg when it’s dropped from a secondfloor window. Build the highest tower made only of newspaper and plastic cups. Design a contraption to help a hard-boiled egg to float in the bath. The great thing about this is that children will engage willingly in really complex thinking without perceiving it as “work”. Remember that making time for a chat afterwards is what really adds value to this sort of activity. How did your children go about this task? How many possible ideas did they try? What proved most tricky about the challenge? How did they overcome this? If they didn’t manage it, have they any ideas for things they could try next time?
about the book In The Bright Stuff (Pearson), child education expert C.J. Simister gives parents practical games, activities and exercises for illuminating and nurturing young minds. These are focused around 16 qualities that Simister believes are vital for your child to “thrive in the real world” and include “how to stimulate independent thinking”, “how to be innovative and inventive” and “how to take the right sort of risk”. This inspiring, fantastic parenting tool is available at leading bookshops.
Choosing a school that will suit you and your child can be daunting. CHAREEN BOAKE investigates some of the different schooling options available to help you make that all-important decision.
a public school may suit you if… • there’s a suitable school close to your home. • the school in your catchment area offers the standard of education and extracurricular activities you are looking for. • you value cultural diversity. Public schools are often more diverse than independent schools. • the fees are more in line with your budget than those at private (independent) schools. • you need to apply for a reduction in school fees based on your financial circumstances. • you’d like your children to wear school uniforms.
• you would like your children to enjoy a wide variety of sports and extramurals, many of which are included in the school fees.
a public school may not suit you if… • you want your child to be in a small class and receive plenty of personal attention. • there’s no suitable public school in your area. • the school does not have sufficient resources for remedial assistance. • the school fees have been raised to subsidise salaries for additional educators in order to decrease class sizes. • you have concerns about the better, more experienced educators leaving for larger salaries in the private sector. • the school’s security is insufficient due to lack of funds. • you’d prefer for your children not to be affected by possible educator strikes. For more info visit education.gov.za or schoolguide.co.za joburg’s
Either partially or fully subsidised by the government, these schools follow a syllabus set out by provincial and national government. Admission is usually dependent on feeder areas within the school’s vicinity.
independent schools This is a broad term used to classify schools that are either privately owned or privately governed. They vary tremendously, from religious to secular, and from culturalintegratory schools to schools based on philosophical beliefs.
an independent school may suit you if… • you want your child to learn in a smallish class. • you want to be able to choose a school based on your cultural, religious or language preferences. • you don’t live in the feeder area of a school you like. Independent schools generally don’t have a catchment area, but your child may need to write an entrance exam or attend an interview. • you want to have more say in the running of the school. Independent schools are governed by governing bodies, parents and educators. • you value the school’s traditions or think it’ll be beneficial for your child to be part of the school’s pastpupil network. • you want to offer your children wider opportunities in fields such as sport, drama and music.
• you want to offer your child an education in a facility that is stocked with a large amount of top-quality equipment, which, in subjects such as chemistry and biology, can allow learning that’s more hands on. • you want your child to write a schoolleaving exam that qualifies them for entry into a foreign university. Certain schools allow learners to write A-level or Abitur exams, for example.
an independent school may not suit you if… • you don’t have the budget for the often expensive school fees. • you’d prefer not to have to pay extra for sports, extramural and administration fees, which are often not included in school fees. • the school doesn’t have a uniform and you want your child to wear one – casual clothes can be more costly. • you don’t want your child to be in an environment where there can be pressure to conform with regards to the latest fashions, toys and gadgets. For more info visit isasa.org or saprivateschools.co.za
cultural integratory schools These are independent schools that promote and seek to instil the culture, language and ethos of their country of cultural origin. They are usually open to children of all cultural ethnicities and provide education in line with South African regulations. In addition to South African matric certificates, certain schools also offer students the option of studying towards a school-leaving certificate valid in the country of cultural origin.
a cultural integratory school may suit you if… • you want your child to learn to speak a foreign language. • you like the school’s ethos and values.
• you want your child to retain or learn more about your family’s cultural roots. • you want your child to pursue tertiary study abroad.
a cultural integratory school may not suit you if… • you’re unfamiliar with the language and culture of the particular school. • the fees are beyond your means. • the appropriate school is not close to your home. There are not many cultural integratory schools and you may not reside within an easy commute of your required school. For more info visit isasa.org or saprivateschools.co.za
faith-based schools These are independent schools that offer a curriculum that integrates secular and religious education.
a faith-based school may suit you if… • you have strong religious beliefs. • you want your child to have a religious foundation, even if you don’t have strong religious beliefs yourself. • the school offers a community with the same religious ethos and beliefs as your family. • the class sizes are small and the facilities of a standard with which you are happy. joburg’s
a faith-based school may not suit you if… • you want your child to interact with children who have different religious backgrounds. This means your children may miss out on opportunities to rub shoulders with those different to themselves, which may lead to limited understanding of others. • the fees are more expensive than your nearest public school. • you are not able to offer the same religious traditions and beliefs within your home. For more info visit isasa.org August 2010
montessori schools The Montessori method aims to provide a developmentally age-appropriate curriculum and to educate by learning through all five senses. Children in a Montessori environment learn at their own pace and according to their own choice of activities, rather than at a group pace or a roster. The educator’s role is to watch over the environment and to provide guidance for children rather than to lecture or lead them. Educators don’t set assignments nor do they dictate what should be studied or read. Children are usually placed in three-year age groups, forming “communities” in which the older children impart knowledge to the younger ones. Montessori discourages traditional competitive measurements of achievement such as tests and exams, and focuses rather on the individual progress and development of each child. Children are, therefore, given regular assessments rather than tests.
a montessori school may suit you if… • you value a holistic approach to education. Montessori promotes the emotional, social and spiritual needs and growth of children as much as their intellectual and physical development. • you value the independence children will be taught, as well as them being in an environment in which they are
encouraged to make informed decisions from an early age. • you like the idea of children not being expected to conform to set standards of achievement. Children are nurtured according to their individual interests and talents. • you think your child will thrive in this individual-based approach. Here, children learn at their own pace. It would suit a family that is comfortable to support their child’s individual growth.
a montessori school may not suit you if… • you don’t like the idea of being unable to compare your child’s work to that of his or her peers. • you want your child to attend a mainstream primary school. The two approaches are very different, which means certain children may battle to make the switch. • your child finds it difficult to work independently. The environment can be demotivating for some children. • you don’t want your child to have to cope with moving schools and education philosophies for primary school. There are very few Montessori primary schools and high schools. For more info visit samontessori.org.za or montessori.edu
waldorf schools Waldorf schools offer a curriculum responsive to the developmental phases in childhood while encouraging creativity and free thinking. During the preschool years, academics are de-emphasised and children are encouraged to “be children” through play and creativity. Artistic mediums of education are encouraged and many subjects are introduced to children through craft, woodwork, music and gardening. Minimal academics are offered in Grade 1 and children learn to read in Grade 2 and Grade 3. Waldorf schools also discourage traditional measurements of achievement such as tests and exams, and focus on the individual progress and development of each child. During the primary school years, the educator, who ideally remains with a class from Grade 1 to Grade 8, writes a detailed evaluation of the child at the end of each school year.
a waldorf school may suit you if… • you like the idea of your children not having to conform to set standards of achievement. They are nurtured according to their individual interests and talents. • your family or children are particularly artistic or creative. • you want your child to receive a high level of personal attention. • you value a holistic approach to your
child’s education. Waldorf seeks to promote education through “complete unity of body, soul and spirit”. • you believe the security of being with the same educator and classmates for the first years of schooling will benefit your child.
• TV is a big part of your family’s life. Use of electronic media, particularly TV, is largely discouraged because it is believed to hamper the development of a child’s imagination. For more info visit waldorf.org.za
a waldorf school may not suit you if… • you think you may need to move your child to a mainstream school at some point. Because of the significant differences in the pacing of the various curricula, it could be a difficult adjustment for your child. • you have concerns about your child finding change difficult to handle. Having the same educator and classmates for the first eight years can make some children change-averse. • there are significant personality clashes between your child and the educator or other classmates. The problem will not resolve itself in the new year, as your child’s class and teacher are likely to be the same for a number of years. • you or your child are particularly competitive. The Waldorf environment is non-competitive. • you want your child to learn computer skills from an early age. Waldorf educators feel the appropriate age for computer use in the classroom is high school.
home schooling Also called home education or home learning, home schooling refers to educating children within the home environment rather than through formal schooling. Children are educated either by parents or tutors, using a homeschool curriculum.
home schooling may suit you if… • you want to instil family values, or a culture you feel your child can’t learn through a third party. • you have strong religious beliefs and, because of these, object to certain lessons offered by schools. Or you want religion to form a thoroughly inclusive aspect of your child’s education. • you want to ensure your child’s safety is within your control at all times. • you’re keen to provide your child with a specialised education programme, tailored to their educational needs, learning preferences and pace. • you need to cater for a child who’s unable to attend mainstream schooling for reasons that may include a learning difference, for example. • you have a career that involves travelling for long periods at a time, and want your children to be able to travel with you. • you want to limit your child’s exposure to negative social influences – such as
peer pressure, school bullies, drug use and under-age drinking. • you are affected by transportation problems or live in a remote area far from suitable schools.
home schooling may not suit you if… • you’re hoping for a cheap option. You won’t have to pay school fees, but you will need to purchase a curriculum and this can be expensive. • your children cannot be part of a broader home-schooling network, otherwise they may get insufficient time to interact with children their age. • developing a sense of belonging to a school group is important to you. • you believe it’s important for children to be in class with peers of different backgrounds and beliefs. • you find it difficult to draw a distinction between your role as a parent and that of an educator, and are either overly strict or too lenient. • your children show an aptitude for certain subjects you didn’t study or find difficult, such as a maths or physics. • you want your children to learn what it’s like to compete with other students for academic accolades. • you can’t devote sufficient time to the process – you will not only teach
but also have to do research, prepare lessons and arrange outings. • you want your child to play sport but don’t have money for private coaching or membership to sports clubs. • you want your child to be exposed to educators and students who have different opinions, values and world views to that of your family. For more info visit pestalozzi.org, south-african-homeschool-curriculum. com or saprivateschools.co.za/homeschooling
a good read for toddlers
Little Peekaboo Buggy Buddies: Red, Blue, Peekaboo! and Little Peekaboo Buggy Buddies: Peekaboo, Where Are You? By Georgie Birkett (Campbell Books, R63 and R56) Little fingers will love lifting the fun flaps to see who’s hiding in the garden and at home. They can peek behind curtains, under a flower, or behind the teddy bear. The flaps are made from beautiful easyto-lift printed felt, which little ones will adore (and not be able to rip). The Buggy Buddies format has handy straps that allow the books to attach to prams, car seats or high chairs. The other two books in the series are also worth having: One, Two, Peekaboo! and Peekaboo, Hello You!
How to Catch a Star By Oliver Jeffers
best bedtime story
(HarperCollins Children’s Books, R170) The award-winning Catch a Star was first published in 2004 and, because of its popularity, the toddler-friendly board-book has been released. It’s the heart-warming story of a little boy wishing for a star of his own – so they can take long walks together and play hide-and-seek. He makes plans to catch a star; he even considers flying up in his spaceship to grab one, but sadly his spaceship had run out of petrol! Children will love this magical tale of hope and making dreams come true. Jeffers’ illustrations are in a class of their own.
for preschoolers The Earth Book By Todd Parr (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, R116) Written in the first person, this book suggests simple activities easily managed by young children. It also includes clear explanations of how these things can have a large impact on the health of our planet. The first-person narrative is easy to follow and children will adore the cheerful illustrations. The book is printed on recycled paper with non-toxic soya ink.
The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary By Dr. Seuss (HarperCollins Children’s Books, R106) Containing more than 500 everyday words, The Cat in the Hat Dictionary provides a fun-filled way to teach young children basic dictionary skills. Packed with crazy creatures and zany humour, it will keep readers from as young as three laughing and learning all the way from A to Z. The book helps with alphabetical order and encourages children to recognise whole words. It also provides examples of word use and helps children develop their vocabulary. Using a dictionary has never been so much fun.
for early graders Nicole in The Surf is my Turf By Lulu and Tee (Linda Fellowes and Save Our Seas Foundation, R65) The same author and illustrator who created Peter, Pamela and Percy in the Big Spill and Eric in It’s a Piece of Cake brings us the story of a great white shark called Nicole. The aim of the book is to teach children that we are actually not a shark’s favourite dish and that this protected species has a very important role to play in the food chain. By buying this book you’ll make a contribution to great white shark conservation.
Ranger Muddles and his Wacky African Safari and Captain Muddles and his Wacky Water Wonders By Steve Camp and Jeannie Mather (Art Publishers, R79 each) In these books, children can learn about 12 animals from the African bushveld and 12 creatures from the sea. The books’ clever split-page layout allows children to invent some unique and strange creatures that will keep them entertained for hours. Ever heard of a liphant, zebpard or pelopus? With stunning illustrations and an informative glossary, your children can first learn about the real creatures, and then create their own.
for preteens and teens pick of the month
Kaspar – Prince of Cats By Michael Morpurgo (HarperCollins Children’s Books, R96) They say cats have nine lives, and that’s certainly true of Kaspar. From the glamorous suites of the Savoy Hotel to the servant’s quarters in the attic, and from a crowded lifeboat to the hustle and bustle of New York City, Kaspar proves that no cat is too small for big adventures. But he is no ordinary cat. He’s Prince Kaspar Kadinsky – the only cat to survive the sinking of the Titanic. Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Michael Foreman have collaborated on 20 children’s titles since 1994 and Kaspar is another beguiling, action-packed story that children aged seven and older will devour. A true gem.
for us good read
The Bone Thief By Jefferson Bass (Quercus, R234) Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton is exhuming a body to obtain a bone sample for a paternity test. A simple enough job, until he discovers that the body’s limbs have all been removed. Further investigation leads Brockton to a grisly blackmarket operation that deals in body parts and cadavers. The latest Body Farm novel from this New York Times bestselling author is a must for fans of the TV series CSI. Bass’s previous thrillers include Carved in Bone, The Devil’s Bones, Flesh and Bone, and Bones of Betrayal.
for parents Sensible Stimulation By Marga Grey (Metz Press, R127) Marga Grey is an occupational therapist who practised in South Africa for almost 30 years, working mainly with children and their families, before moving to Australia. In Sensible Stimulation she informs, guides and supports parents, giving them insight into their children’s early development. Through knowledge and understanding, parents can guide their children, helping them to become balanced adults and confident members of society. This book focuses on the first three years of a child’s life, which is fundamental to all further development. joburg’s
what’s on in august Things to do, places to go, ways to give back, talks and exhibitions plus loads of fun for the whole family. compiled by CHAREEN BOAKE
FUN FOR CHILDREN
Moyo lunch and children’s workshop Enjoy traditional African cuisine while the children are entertained with storytelling and dance.
FUN for children
only for parents
bump, baby & tot in tow
how to help
SPECIAL EVENTS Thriller live Don’t miss this exciting toe-tapping, moonwalking tribute to the King of pop.
ONLY FOR PARENTS
bump, baby & tot in tow
how to help
Kevin Bloody Wilson Side-splitting Aussie humour at its best.
Sign language workshop Spend a fun and interactive morning learning signing techniques with your toddler.
Education for Living You can make a difference in a young person’s life by giving of your time.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND ILLUSTRATION: THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM
SPECIAL EVENTS 2 monday National Science Week Ends 7 August. Visit Sci-Bono, an interactive science museum, for loads of exhibits and do fun experiments. Time: Monday–Friday 9am–4:30pm, Saturday 9am–4pm. Venue: Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Miriam Makeba St, Newtown. Cost: adults R20, children R10. Contact: 011 639 8400 or visit sci-bono.co.za
5 thursday Decorex This annual décor and design show returns with the latest trends. Ends 9 August. Time: 10am–6pm. Venue: Gallagher Estate, Midrand. Cost: R65. For more info: visit decorex.co.za Macallan Whisky tasting and dinner Discover and learn about these fine whiskies, which are complemented by a dinner prepared by The Westcliff’s executive chef. Time: 6:30pm. Venue: The Westcliff Hotel, Westcliff. Cost: R295. Booking essential. Contact: 011 481 6030 or visit westcliff.co.za
6 friday Locnville Don’t miss this one-night performance by the electro-hop South African duo. Venue: Big Top Arena, Carnival City, Brakpan. Cost: R115–R169. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
St Dominic’s College, Kruger St, Boksburg. Cost: single day pass R40, three-day pass R90. Contact: 011 788 7632/1 or media@ jtcomms.co.za or firstname.lastname@example.org
Biomimicry workshop and zoo fun Biomimicry is learning from, then emulating nature’s genius to solve human challenges. For children over 12 years. Time: 9am–4pm. Venue: Johannesburg Zoo, Forest Town. Cost: R150, first day opening presentation, walk and zoo entrance or R1 600 for full three-day workshop. Booking essential. Contact Claire: claire@ biomimicry.net
7 saturday 5th National Marimba Festival Watch more than 45 bands from around the country perform. There are several workshops to choose from such as African dance workshops, djembe drumming workshops and many more. Food, souvenirs, marimbas, music and other instruments are on sale. Ends 9 August. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue:
Join Margaret Roberts for a Women’s Day lunch This well-known herb expert delivers a talk while you enjoy a threecourse meal with wine. Funds raised go towards Animals in Distress. Time: noon. Venue: Garden World, Beyers Naudé Dr, Muldersdrift. Cost: R170. Booking by 2 August essential. Contact: 078 458 9143
10 tuesday Thriller live The ultimate spectacular celebrating the life of Michael Jackson. Expect your favourite Jackson songs delivered by an exceptionally talented cast and live band, including the smash hits “Beat it”, “Billie Jean”, “Thriller” and many more. Ends 27 August. Time: varies. Venue: Teatro at Montecasino. Cost: R100–R315. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
13 friday The National Boat Show offers a 360degree view of everything in, on or under water, including the latest power boats and yachts. Ends 15 August. Time: Friday 11am–6pm, Saturday 9am–6pm, Sunday 9am–5pm. Venue: Coca-Cola Dome, Northgate. Cost: adults R70, children R40, children under 10 free. For more info: visit nationalboatshow.co.za
14 saturday Evita – The Musical The rise and fall of Argentina’s first lady, Eva Peron, is played out in this hit musical. Ends 2 September. Time: varies. Venue: Pieter Toerien Main Theatre, Montecasino. Cost: R125–R295. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com Dance for a cure Some of the country’s top performers come together to tell a story of hope about a woman’s battle with cervical cancer. Time: 7:30pm. Venue: The Lyric at Gold Reef City. Cost: R180. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
Carmen The South African Ballet Theatre brings you this well-known ballet, which captures the heat and passion of a night in Spain. Time: varies. Venue: The Mandela at Joburg Theatre. Cost: R53–R145. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
International left-handed learners day An afternoon of fun for parents of lefthanded children with children’s activities, competitions, prizes and gifts. Time: noon. Venue: Outer Limits Restaurant, Broadacres Shopping Centre, Cedar Rd, Fourways. Cost: free entry. Contact: 072 300 7066 or visit lefthandlearning.co.za
21 August – Cycle for CANSA
21 saturday Cycle for CANSA The whole family can participate in this annual cycle race to raise funds for cancer patients. Time: 8am. Venue: Sun City Hotel and Resort. Cost: R30–R165. For more info: visit cansalostcity.co.za
26 thursday Standard Bank Joy of Jazz This annual festival showcases an international and local line-up of top artists. Ends 28 August. Time: varies. Venue: several in Newtown. Cost: varies. For more info: visit joyofjazz.co.za
FUN FOR CHILDREN arts, culture and science A journey into space Children aged 2–8 years can spend a morning learning about stars, the moon and space. Time: 10:30am, every Saturday. Venue: Johannesburg Planetarium, Empire Rd, Parktown. Cost: R18. Contact: 011 717 1390 or visit planetarium.co.za Arabella’s Art Studio Weekly art lessons for children. Time: varies. Venue: 29 5th Ave, Parktown North. Cost: R1 250 per term. Contact: 082 822 1161 Artjamming Art studio for children and adults. Time: Monday–Friday 9am–5:30pm, Saturday 9am–4pm, Sunday 10am–3pm. Venue: Artjamming, Blubird Shopping Centre, Athol. Cost: depends on canvas size and materials. Contact Kayla: 083 379 2069, email@example.com or visit artjamming.co.za Art of play Hands-on, creative fun studio for children aged 2–12 years. There’s a coffee shop for parents to relax. Time: Monday–Saturday 10am–noon, 2pm–4pm. Venue: 3 Forssman Close, Barbeque Downs, Kyalami. Cost: tbc. Contact: 071 830 0918, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit artofplay.co.za Color Café is a ceramic studio where you can paint mugs, plates, teapots or bowls. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: Shop 14, Hyde Square Shopping Centre, cnr North Rd and Jan Smuts Ave, Hyde Park.
Art of play
Cost: R95 per hour, includes paint, firing and glazing. Ceramic items are charged separately. Contact: 011 341 0734 or visit colorcafe.co.za Polka Dot Arts and Crafts This art studio caters for all types of arts and crafts from painting and pottery to mosaic and papier-mâché. Moms can relax in the tea garden or indoors. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: 13 4th Ave, Parkhurst. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 447 9892 Pottery Junxion is an art studio where you choose and paint your own pottery. Also offers regular workshops on drybrushing, paint techniques, antiquing and mosaics. Time: Monday–Friday 9am–4pm, Saturday 9am–2pm. Venue: 5 Glendower Place, 99 Linksfield Rd, Dowerglen. Cost: varies. Contact: 011 453 2721 or visit potteryjunxion.co.za
Scrapbook Emporium Scrapbooking lessons and craft workshops. Time: 9am– 5pm. Venue: Shop 109, Design Quarter, Fourways. Cost: free entry; workshops and materials additional. Contact: 011 465 9349 or visit scrapbookemporium.co.za Smudge Indoor arts and crafts studio suitable for children aged 3–13 years. Offers beading, a dress-up room and more. Also a coffee bar. Time: Tuesday–Friday 10am–5pm, Saturday 10am–4pm, Sunday 10am–1pm. Venue: 21A, Valley Centre, 396 Jan Smuts Ave, Craighall Park. Cost: R110 for the first hour, R55 for every hour thereafter, includes all art materials. Contact: 011 501 0234 or visit smudgeart.co.za
classes, talks & workshops Creative Kidz Fun programme Saturday morning arts and crafts workshops for
children aged 6–13 years. Activities include baking, painting, creating and lots of fun. Time: 9am–12:30pm. Venue: Creativity Workshop, 4 Kingsway St, Paulshof. Cost: R110, includes material and refreshment. Contact Karen: 083 453 4621 or visit crystalessence.co.za Discover more about the world of TV and film This one-day workshop is for parents and tots to teens to find out more about the exciting world of TV commercials and film. 1 August and 28 August. Time: 2pm–4pm. Venue: Bryanston Sports Club. Cost: R400, includes annual registration fee with Caitlin’s Casting. Booking essential. Contact: email@example.com or visit return2rootsfoundation.co.za Equal Zeal Personal development and empowerment programmes for children from 5 to 21 years. Venue: various venues throughout Gauteng. Contact Zelda: 082 447 3343, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit equalzeal.co.za Kind Kid and Teenager workshops Based on the Tanners Manners programme, this course uses interactive lessons, role play and songs to make learning social graces fun. Time: varies. Venue: Norscot Manor, Fourways. Cost: varies. Contact: 072 724 8332, enquiries@myupperroom. co.za or visit myupperroom.co.za Kumon Education free trial session to either or both English and Maths, is open to families who are new to Kumon. Date: 16–29 August. Time: varies. Venue: several venues around Gauteng. Contact: 0800 002 775 or visit kumon.co.za Left hand learning Workshop for parents and their left-handed children. Date: 19 August. Time: 8:45am. Venue: Pretoria. Cost: R250 for one parent and one child, includes material and refreshment. Contact: 072 300 7066 or visit lefthandlearning.co.za Little Cook’s Club Programme for moms and children aged 2–15 years aimed at introducing children to cooking and healthy nutrition. Venue: Rivonia, Fourways, Fairland, Mondeor, Edenvale/Bedfordview, Pretoria. Contact Christine: 083 556 3434, or visit littlecooksclub.co.za Stress Free Kids Offers monthly researchbased, stress-management techniques for children to help them manage anxiety, stress and anger while promoting self-esteem and peaceful sleep. Venue: Highlands North. Contact Christa: 079 527 1008 or visit stressfreekids.co.za
family outings Angelo’s Kitchen An Italian restaurant where children can create their own pizzas. Time: noon–9:30pm. Venue: Coachman’s Crossing, Peter Place, Bryanston. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 463 5800 Left hand learning workshop
Artists under the sun On the first weekend of every month you can view the work of over 100 artists. Time: 8:30am– 4:30pm. Venue: Zoo Lake, Prince of Wales Dr, Parkview. Cost: free entry. For more info: visit artistsunderthesun.co.za Avianto Sunday Lunch There is a children’s play area. Weather permitting, buffets are arranged under the oak trees. Time: subject to reservation. Venue: Avianto Estate, Muldersdrift. Cost: adults R150, children R75. Booking essential. Contact: 011 668 3000 Bambanani Restaurant offers a children’s play area with childminders. A variety of children’s entertainment on Wednesdays. Time: Tuesday–Friday 10am–10pm, Saturday 8am–11pm, Sunday 8am–9pm. Venue: 85 4th Ave, Melville. Contact: 011 482 2900 Boktown Back the bokke on a big screen as they take on the Aussies and All Blacks. Enjoy live entertainment. Date: 21 and 28 August. Time: varies. Venue: Montecasino. Cost: R30. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
Stress Free Kids
Goblin’s Cove Fantasy Restaurant is set in a forest with a lake, with a playground, jungle gyms, sandpit, an aviary as well as the Fairywinkle fairy and goblin shop. Time: Wednesday–Saturday 8:30am– 9:30pm, Sunday 8:30am–5pm. Venue: R24, Magaliesburg. Cost: free entry. Contact: 014 576 2143 or visit goblins.co.za Irene Dairy You can see a fully functioning dairy, buy farm-fresh products or enjoy a meal at the country café. Children can play on the tractor and feed the cows. Time: 8am–5pm. Venue: 100 Nellmapius Dr, Irene. Cost: free entry. Contact: 012 667 4012 or visit willoworld.com Lifestyle Garden Centre Offers a play park and farmyard with free pony rides and a restaurant. Time: 8am–5pm daily. Venue: cnr Beyers Naudé Dr and Ysterhout Ave, Randpark Ridge. Cost: free entry. For more info: visit lifestyle.co.za Lipizzaners White stallions perform in The Ballet of the White Stallion. Time: 10:30am every Sunday. Venue: Lipizzaner Centre, 1 Dahlia Rd, Kyalami. Cost: R105. For more info: visit lipizzaners.co.za Maropeng This centre in the Cradle of Humankind pays homage to the discovery of early man. It features two restaurants, offers stargazing dinners on certain dates, as well as pensioner specials on Mondays. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: R400, Magaliesburg. joburg’s
Cost: adults R105, children R60. Contact: 014 577 9000 or visit maropeng.co.za Moyo lunch and creative children’s workshop Moms and dads can relax over lunch while children, aged 3–12 years, participate in free creative workshops. Time: 10:30am–3:30pm every Saturday. Venue: Moyo, Zoo Lake, Prince of Wales Dr, Parkview. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 646 0058 or visit moyo.co.za Papachinos This restaurant offers a large children’s play area so moms and dads can sit back and relax. Time: Tuesday–Saturday 8:30am–9pm; Sunday 8:30am–6:30pm. Venue: 40 Whisken Ave, Crowthorne. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 702 1234
finding nature & outdoor play Croc City Crocodile Farm View crocodiles and hatchlings at close range. Time: 9am–4:30pm. Venue: Old Pretoria Rd, Nietgedacht. Cost: adults R45, children R25. For more info: visit croccity.co.za Footloose Trout Farm Offers bass, trout, carp and barbel fishing. There is also a jungle gym, picnic spots, braai facilities, an outside lapa bar and a restaurant. Time: Tuesday–Sunday 7:30am–5pm. Venue: William Nicol Dr, Fourways North. Cost: adults R50, children R40, rod hire R30. Contact Kim: 011 466 9911
Honeydew Mazes A unique opportunity to navigate your way through a series of mazes created in various mediums such as maize, reeds and ropes. Time: Saturday–Sunday 10am–5pm. Venue: Honeydew Mazes, 82 Boland St, Honeydew. Cost: adults R70, children R55. Contact Judy: 073 795 2174 or visit honeydewmazes.co.za Lion Park Home to several carnivores including white lions. You can play with cubs or enjoy a game ride or visit the restaurant. Time: Monday–Friday 8:30am– 5pm, Saturday–Sunday 8:30am–6pm. Venue: cnr Malibongwe and R114, Lanseria. Cost: adults R115, children R80. Contact: 011 691 9905, email@example.com or visit lion-park.com Predator World Specialises in all types of predators and offers night tours, walking tours and game drives. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: 6km from Sun City on the R556. Cost: adults R70, children R35. Contact: 014 552 6900 or visit predatorworld.co.za Rhino and Lion Park Play with cubs at the animal crèche or enjoy a game drive through the reserve. Time: 8:30am–4pm daily. Venue: near Muldersdrift, see their website for a map. Cost: adults R100, children R70. Contact: 011 957 0347, rhinolion@mweb. co.za or visit rhinolion.co.za joburg’s
Bring your own picnic lunch or enjoy lunch at the Eagle’s Fare Restaurant. Don’t miss the Sunday picnic concerts every second Sunday throughout winter. Time: 8am–5pm. Venue: Malcolm Rd, Poortview, Roodepoort. Cost: adults R23, children R7. For more info: visit sanbi.org
markets 44 Stanley fine food market This Friday night market offers Indian, Thai, African Kwanza and Hare Krishna vegetarian food. Time: 4pm–8pm. Venue: 44 Stanley St, Milpark. Cost: free entry. Contact: 083 311 4768 Bryanston Organic market Stalls offer everything from organic clothing, children’s toys and arts to coffees and foods. Time: 9am–3pm, every Thursday and Saturday. Venue: Culross Rd, off Main Rd, Bryanston. Contact: 011 706 3671 Craighall River Market Enjoy a wide variety of arts, crafts and organic produce. Children’s playground and pony rides available. Time: 8:30am–1pm, every second Saturday. Venue: Colourful Splendour Nursery, Craighall Park. Contact Roy: 011 465 3413 Gourmet Market Bread, nuts, organic vegetables, cheese, pickles and olives. Time: Tuesday–Sunday 9am–5pm. Venue: Lifestyle Garden Centre, cnr Beyers Naudé and Ysterhout Dr, Randpark Ridge. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 792 5616 Irene Market Offers over 300 stalls of arts, food and a licensed tea garden with a safe children’s entertainment area. Time: 9am–2pm, second and last Saturday of each month. Venue: Smuts House Museum, Jan Smuts Ave, Irene. For more info: visit irenemarket.co.za Jozi Food Market The emphasis is on natural, homegrown and exotic foods ranging from baked goods, jams and vegetables to cheeses, olives and oysters. Time: 8:30am–1:30pm. Every Saturday. Venue: Parktown Quarter, cnr 7th Ave and 3rd Ave, Parktown North. For more info: visit jozifoodmarket.co.za Killarney Organic Market This Thursday morning market offers everything organic from olives and muffins to samoosas and spring rolls. Time: 9am. Venue: Inner Court, Killarney Shopping Mall. Cost: free entry. Contact Robyn: 083 311 4768 Market in the Park This monthly market is filled with crafts, jewellery, games, tasty treats and more. Time: 9am–2pm, first Sunday of the month. Venue: River Café grounds, Louise Ave, Parkmore. Contact Lorraine: 011 465 1281 or 083 655 8012 Melville Market This is a bargain hunter’s paradise. Time: Monday–Saturday 9am– 5pm. Venue: Campus Square Shopping Centre, cnr Kingsway and University Rds, Auckland Park. Contact: 011 482 2118 Mzansi Market You’ll find all things local and lekker from Mopani worms to makarapas. Time: 9am–2pm, every Saturday. Venue: Killarney Mall, Killarney. Contact Mahlatse: 011 646 4659 or firstname.lastname@example.org United flavour of nations This fine food market offers wholesome and delicious foods. Time: 9am–2pm, every Sunday. Venue: Blubird Shopping Centre, cnr Athol Oaklands Rd and Fort St, Athol. Cost: free entry. Contact Robyn: 083 311 4768 August 2010
Killarney Organic Market
on stage & on screen People’s Theatre features Cinderella. Ends 7 August. Time: varies. Venue: cnr Loveday and Hoofd St, Joburg Theatre Complex, Braamfontein. Cost: adults R75, children R85. Contact: 011 403 1563/2340 UJ Arts Centre The current production is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 11–21 August. Time: 7:30pm. Venue: University of Johannesburg, Arts Centre. Cost: R60. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
playtime & story time Bedfordview Library Story time for children aged 2–5 years. Time: 10am, every Thursday. Venue: 3 Hawley Rd, Bedfordview. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 874 5013
Build-a-Bear workshops Create your own teddy bear or stuffed animals. Daily. Time: dependent on store. Venue: several venues in Gauteng. For more info: visit buildabear.co.za Bryanston Library Story time for children aged 2–6 years. Time: 2:30pm, every Wednesday. Venue: cnr New and Payne St, Bryanston. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 706 3518 Egoli Café and kids’ play area Monitored indoor and outdoor play area, climbing wall, jumping castles and jungle gym. Time: Friday noon–5pm; Saturday–Sunday 9am– 5pm. Venue: 17A Terrace Rd, Eastleigh, Edenvale. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 609 4755 or visit egolilodge.co.za Emmarentia Library Story time for children aged 2–4 years. Time: varies.
Venue: Barry Hertzog Rd, Emmarentia. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 646 5821 Grannies Garden Indoor and outdoor play venue with a coffee shop. Time: Monday–Friday 10am–5pm, Saturday– Sunday 8am–6pm. Venue: 138 Barkston Dr, Blairgowrie. Cost: R30 per hour. Contact: 011 326 4265 or visit granniesgarden.co.za Hedgehog Lane Outdoor fairground with a ferris wheel, merry-go-round and miniature Hedgehog Express Train. There is also a creative studio, bakery and hair salon. Picnic baskets welcome. Time: 9am– 5pm. Venue: Garden Shop, 278 Main Rd, Bryanston. Cost: adults free, children R18. For more info: visit hedgehoglane.co.za Help Lego at Toys-R-Us Help Lego build a 66 000-piece fireman and stand a chance to win Lego sets. Toys-R-Us, East Rand Mall, Boksburg: 1–5 August, 9am–5pm. Contact: 011 823 5111 or visit toysrus.co.za Linden Library story time Suitable for children aged 3–8 years. Time: 3pm–4pm, every Wednesday. Venue: Linden Library, cnr 4th Ave and 6th St, Linden. Cost: free entry. For more info: 011 888 5685 Love Books Different storytellers tell everything from traditional African folk tales to fairytales and classics. Suitable for children 4–8 years. Time: 10am, every Saturday. Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Centre, 53 Rustenburg Rd, Melville. Cost: free. Contact: 011 726 7408 or email@example.com
Norscot Manor Library Story time for children aged 2–8 years. Time: 3pm– 3:30pm, every Wednesday. Venue: 16B Penguin Dr, Norscot Manor. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 705 3323 Oki Doki This play and party venue offers a unique “town” where children play dress-up. Also a coffee shop for parents. Time: Tuesday–Saturday 8:30am–4:30pm. Venue: 66 6th St, Linden. Cost: free entry for adults, children R20. Contact: 011 888 8940 or visit oki-doki.co.za Olivedale Library Story time for children 3–6 years. Time: 10am–11am, every Friday. Venue: President Fouche Rd, Olivedale. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 462 6285/6 Parkhurst Library Story time for children from 3 years. Time: 3:30pm–4pm, every Monday. Venue: cnr 5th and 13th St. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 788 4510 Parkview Library Story time for children 3–10 years. Time: 3:30pm–4:30pm, every Monday. Venue: Parkview Library, 51 Athlone Ave. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 646 3375 Piccinos Indoor soft-play area suitable for tiny tots–6 years as well as a coffee shop for moms and dads. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: Norwood Mall, Hamlin Rd, Norwood. Cost: R40 per hour. Contact: 011 728 0928 Rivonia Library Story time for children aged 3–12 years. Time: 3pm–3:30pm, every Tuesday and Thursday. Venue: cnr
Rivonia and 10th Ave, Rivonia. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 803 1227 Rosebank Library Story time for children aged 3–6 years. Time: 3pm–3:30pm, every Wednesday. Venue: 8 Keyes Ave, Rosebank. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 442 8988 Sandringham Library Story time for children aged 4–10 years. Time: 3pm, first Wednesday of each month. Venue: Athlone Ave. Cost: free. Contact: 011 640 5676 Sandton Library Story time for children aged 3–8 years. Time: 3pm–4pm, every
Wednesday. Venue: Sandton Square. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 881 6413 Serendipity Indoor and outdoor play and craft venue with a small restaurant. Time: Tuesday–Friday 10am–5pm, Saturday and Sunday 8:30am–4pm. Venue: 48 Keyes Ave, Rosebank. Cost: free entry for adults; first child, R40; second child, R30; additional children, R20. Contact: 011 447 7386 Struben’s Valley Library Story time for children aged 2–10 years. Time: 3pm, every Thursday. Venue: Fredenharry Rd, Strubens Valley. Cost: free. Contact: 011 475 0569 Weltevreden Park Library Story time for children aged 3–6 years. Time: 3:30pm, every Thursday. Venue: Fern St, Weltevreden Park. Cost: free. Contact: 011 679 3406 Words Bookstore Enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book and let the children play in the play area. 10% off all children’s books on Sundays and story time can be arranged. Time: 7am–6:30pm. Venue: Health Emporium, Church and Market St, Midrand. Contact: 011 315 3801 Yeesh! Fun for kids Supervised soft-play indoor playgrounds with coffee bars for parents to relax. Time: Tuesday–Sunday 9am–5pm. Venue: Unit G6, Woodmead Commercial Park, Waterval Crescent, Woodmead and 5 Main Rd, Bryanston. Cost: R40 per hour. Contact Woodmead: 083 923 2306; Bryanston: 073 230 6531 or visit yeesh.co.za
sports & physical activities Abseiling and Caving Adventure Time: 11am, every Sunday. Venue: Wild Cave Adventures, Cradle of Humankind. Cost: adults R220, children R180. Booking essential. Contact: 011 956 6197 Battlezone Outdoor paintball adventure park. Time: varies. Venue: cnr Sloane St and Main Rd, Bryanston. Cost: R100, includes gear. Booking essential. Contact: 082 818 0345 or visit battlezone.co.za Compu-Kart Raceway Indoor go-karting venue suitable for children 10 years and older. Time: 10am–9pm. Venue: Stoneridge Shopping Centre and Hereford Rd, Modderfontein. Cost: R50–R250 dependent on number of laps. Contact: 0861 465 278 Daytona Adventure Park Take your own bikes or hire quad bikes. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: William Nicol Dr, Fourways. Cost: varies. Booking essential. Contact Greg or Vic: 083 625 1537 or 072 202 7434 Dirt Ryders Adventures Outdoor venue suitable for children 7 years and older. Offers go-karts, paintball, adventure jungle gym and more. Time: Wednesday–Sunday 10am–5pm. Venue: Farm ME, 12B Pelindaba Rd, Lanseria. Cost: varies. Contact Clive: 082 458 3634 or visit dirtryders.co.za Jozi-X Extreme fun-park suitable for children aged 4 and over. Time: 10am– 5pm. Venue: cnr Main Rd and Sloane St, Bryanston. Cost: varies. Contact Marco: 082 456 2358 or visit jozix.co.za
Randburg Raceway Indoor go-karting venue for 10 years and older. Time: Monday– Saturday 11am–8pm, Sunday 11am–6pm. Venue: 272 Samantha St, Strijdom Park. Cost: R120 for 25–30 laps. Contact: 011 792 2660 or visit randburgraceway.co.za Runnin Rebels Soccer Development soccer aimed at children 6–11 years. Time: varies. Venue: Bedfordview, Fairmount, Fourways, Parkmore, Zoo Lake. Cost: varies. Contact Alan: 011 646 5461 or visit runninrebels.co.za The Ski Deck Bumboarding snow fun down a 20m slope. Ski lessons are also available. Time: Monday–Friday 9am– 5pm, Saturday 9am–2pm, Sunday 10am– 1pm. Venue: The Ski Deck, 74 Bond St, Ferndale, Randburg. Cost: R60 per child for two hours of bumboarding. Contact: 011 781 6528 or visit ski.co.za Wonderwall Indoor climbing wall for beginners to advanced climbers. Time: Tuesday–Thursday 10am–10pm, Friday 10am–9pm, Saturday 9am–6pm. Venue: Unit 1, Kya Sands Industrial Village, Kya Sands. Cost: adults R60, children R40. Contact: 011 708 6467, info@wonderwall. co.za or visit wonderwall.co.za Yoga4kids An educational and ageappropriate yoga curriculum. Venue: Broadacres, Craighall Park, Atholl, Rivonia and Parkmore. Contact: Yoga4kids, 083 299 6555, 084 341 2833 or visit yoga4kids.co.za
Zoo trot A 5km or 10km walk or jog around the zoo. Time: 7am, second Sunday of every month. Venue: Johannesburg Zoo, Forest Town. Cost: R30. For more info: 011 646 2000 or visit jhbzoo.org.za
only for parents arts, culture and out on the town Rotary Club of Rosebank Annual Art Festival View over 150 artworks by local artists. Raffle tickets are on sale to win an artwork valued at over R20 000. Funds raised are donated to Rotary charities. Time: 10 August 6pm; 11–14 August 10am–10pm; 15 August 10am–4pm. Venue: Hyde Park Shopping Centre. Cost: free entry Summer Place Sunday Soirees Every first Sunday of the month, 102.7 Classic FM hosts a sit-down dinner concert. Time: 6:30pm. Venue: Apollo Room, Summer Place. Cost: R385, includes wine, soft drinks, gourmet three-course meal and entertainment. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
classes, talks & workshops Bright Ideas Outfit Nikki Bush, wellknown TV parenting expert, runs workshops, which cover various topics for parents of preschool and school-going children. Date: varies. Time: varies. Venue: Miele Gallery of Fine Living, 63 Peter Place, Bryanston. Cost: R300–R350. Booking
Dealing with step parenting
essential. Contact: info@brightideasoutfit. co.za or visit brightideasoutfit.co.za Create your dream life workshop This four-week workshop is designed to help you visualise and manifest your dreams using creative and constructive writing and visualisation boards. Date: 3, 10, 17 and 24 August. Time: 7pm–9pm. Venue: 4 Kingsway St, Paulshof Ext 2. Cost: R1 000, includes refreshment and course material. Booking essential. Contact Karen: 083 453 4621 Dealing with step-parenting This five-week course is for parents in newly formed families comprising step-parents and biological parents. Date: 11 August. Time: 6:30pm–8pm. Venue: 1 Cardigan Rd, Parkwood. Cost: couples R420, singles R320. Contact: 011 788 4784/5, famlife@ iafrica.com or visit familylife.co.za
Divorce Support A workshop for individuals going through a divorce. Scheduled subject to sufficient numbers. Time: 7pm–9pm. Venue: 1 Cardigan Ave, Parkwood. Cost: R390. Contact: 011 788 4784/5 or visit familylife.co.za Left Hand Learning Workshop for educators and parents of left-handed children. 12 August. Time: 5:45pm–8pm. Venue: Bedfordview and Fourways. Cost: R150, includes refreshment and material. Booking essential. Contact: 072 300 7066 Reflexology Workshop for Parents and Caregivers This informative workshop is presented by a registered therapeutic reflexologist and adult educator. 21 August. Time: 9am–2pm. Venue: Wallace House, 924 Pretorius St, Arcadia, Pretoria. Cost: R500, includes a workshop manual, foot chart and practical session.
Booking essential before 14 August. Contact: 082 466 7925 or visit holistickids. yolasite.com Weight Loss with Max Kaan This successful hypnotist shows you easy and powerful psychological techniques to help you programme your mind to stop craving food. 7 August. Time: 2pm. Venue: Ngwenya Glass Village, Beyers Naudé Dr, Muldersdrift. Cost: R65, includes tea or coffee and cake. Booking essential. Contact Athalie: 083 285 8383 Women in Business Fundraising Breakfast Join Basetsana Kumalo, Jane Trembath, the first female captain on long range international flights, and international motivational speaker Justin Cohen for a morning of networking. 5 August. Time: 7:30am. Venue: Villa Arcadia, 22 Oxford Rd, Parktown. Cost: R500. Booking essential. Contact Tracey: 011 298 8567 or firstname.lastname@example.org Working Mom’s breakfast Join Samantha Cowan as she discusses the complexities and challenges of juggling work and family. The price includes breakfast and hampers. 15 August. Time: 9am. Venue: The Sydenham Highlands North Community Centre, 24 Main St, Rouxville. Cost: R180. Booking essential. Contact Tali: 072 492 0664 or tdfranky@ absamail.co.za
on stage & on screen Barnyard Theatres Well-known rock band Just Jinjer, is making a special appearance
this month. Check with your local venue for the date and time. Venues: Broadacres, Cresta, East Rand Mall, Menlyn. For more info: visit barnyardtheatre.co.za Kevin Bloody Wilson This Australian comedy legend is sure to have you laughing at his outrageous song and comedy routines. This off-the-wall humour is definitely for adults only. Ends 28 August. Time: 8:15pm. Venue: Big Top Arena, Carnival City, Brakpan. Cost: R149–R289. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com The Joburg Theatre Complex This month catch the ballet Carmen and the last few days of Le Grand Cirque du Fantazie. For more info: visit showbusiness.co.za or book through Computicket: computicket.com The Lyric and The Globe Theatres feature comedy festivals, musicals and theatrical performances. Venue: Gold Reef City. For more info: visit goldreefcity.co.za The Market Theatre Don’t miss the hilarious School Cuts, which takes you on a trip down memory lane. Ends 22 August. Time: varies. Venue: Main Theatre, Market Theatre, 56 Margaret Mcingana St. Cost: R60. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com Theatre of Marcellus at Emperor’s Palace You can catch African Footprint, which returns home to African soil to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Ends 20 June. Time: varies. Venue: Emperor’s Palace. Cost: R185–R225. Book through Computicket: 083 915 8000 or visit computicket.com
support groups ADHASA Attention deficit and hyperactivity support group. Contact: 011 888 7655 or visit adhdsupport.co.za CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa offers support. Contact: 0800 226 622 or visit cansa.org.za Compassionate Friends Support group for bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. Contact: 011 440 6322 or visit compassionatefriends.org.za SANCA provides both prevention and treatment services for alcohol and other drug dependence. Contact: 011 781 6410, 0861 472 688 or visit sancanational.org.za South African depression and anxiety support group Highly trained counsellors operate the mental health counselling centre and the toll-free suicide crisis line. Contact: 011 262 6396 or 0800 567 567 Teddy Bear Clinic Provides therapy, counselling, assistance, love, safety and ongoing support to children who have been abused. Contact: 011 484 4554 The Family Life Centre offers marriage, divorce and couple counselling, single parent and step-parent support groups, family counselling as well as play therapy. Venue: 1 Cardigan Rd, Parkwood. Contact: 011 788 4784/5 or visit familylife.co.za Women and men against child abuse Medical, psychological and follow-up therapy and treatment to children who have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused. Contact: 011 789 8815 or visit wmaca.org
bump, baby & Tot in tow
classes, talks & workshops BabyGym Step-by-step stimulation programme for babies from birth to 2 years. Venue: several branches throughout Gauteng. Contact: 011 888 5434, institute@ babygym.co.za or visit babygym.co.za Baby massage course Comprehensive and interactive baby massage course run by a qualified and registered instructor, 90 minutes every Saturday. Starts 7 August. Time: 9am. Venue: NGN House, Riley Road Office Park, Bedfordview. Cost: R550. Booking essential. Contact: 011 022 1863 or email@example.com Clamber Club baby and toddler classes Interactive mom-and-tot workshops aimed at developing sensory motor skills. Venue: branches throughout Gauteng. Contact: 011 325 2031 or visit clamberclub.com Kindermusik is an early childhood music and movement programme for children from birth to 7 years. Venue: several branches throughout Gauteng. Contact: 018 468 2380/5143 or visit kindermusik.co.za Moms and Babes Interactive workshops for parents with babies from 2–12 months. Workshops include guided play with ageappropriate toys, movement to music and sensory stimulation. Venue: varies. Contact: 011 469 1530 or visit momsandbabes.co.za Moms and Tots Interactive workshops for parents with tots from 1–3.5 years. Workshops include free play with educational toys,
music, stories and crafts as well as life skills, messy play and gross motor activities. Venue: several venues throughout Gauteng. Contact: 011 469 1530 or visit momsandtots.co.za Nanny and toddler workshops These Friday classes provide a morning of interactive play for toddlers aged 1–3 years. Time: 9am–noon. Venue: Sandton Field and Study Recreation Centre, Parkmore. Cost: R90. Booking essential. Contact Kerry: 083 391 4921 or firstname.lastname@example.org Pikanini Baby Academy offers a holistic portfolio of workshops and courses to empower parents to deal with the challenges of parenting. Venue: Intercare Medical Centre, Cavendish Glen Shopping Centre, Kempton Park. Contact: 011 922 5000 or visit pikanini.co.za Sign language workshop for tots This 10-week course is based on American Sign Language (ASL) practices. It offers the beginner play class for children 6 months–2 years and the intermediate play class for 12 months and older. No signing experience is necessary. Time: varies. Venue: Fastrackids, Broadacres Lifestyle Centre, Cedar Rd, Broadacres. Cost: R1 700. Booking essential. Contact: 011 467 0230, heloise-fourways@ fastrackids.com or visit fastrackids.com Terrific Toddlers Geared at children from the age of 2, this workshop teaches toddlers basic building blocks that will form the foundation of good manners. Time: 1pm–2pm, every Thursday. Venue: Buttercup Preschool, Lonehill. Cost: R450 per term. Contact: 072 724 8332
Toddlers-in-Tune Music, singing and movement workshops for 1–3 years olds. Time: 10:45am–11:15am, every second Friday. Venue: Smudge, Valley Centre, Craighall. Cost: R95, includes 30-minute play. Contact: 011 501 0234 or visit smudgeart.co.za Toddler taming course This six-week course is for parents of toddlers aged 18 months–4 years and covers topics such as common stresses of parenting toddlers, as well as maintaining the couple relationship. Scheduled subject to sufficient numbers. Time: 7pm–9pm. Venue: 1 Cardigan Rd, Parkwood. Cost: couples R640, singles R490. Booking essential. Contact: 011 788 4784/5 or visit familylife.co.za Top Tots Workshops aimed at child development from birth to preschool. Venue: several venues throughout Gauteng. Contact: 031 266 4910, 082 876 7791, email@example.com or visit toptots.co.za
support groups Adoption South Africa offers support groups for adopters as well as extensive services in counselling and legal social work. For more info: visit adoptionsa.co.za Bedwetting Support Group Contact: 083 289 6640, Monday–Friday 8am–5pm La Leche League Breastfeeding support group. For more info: visit llli.org SA Preemies Support group for parents and families of premature babies. Contact: 080 773 3643, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit preemiesforafrica.org South African Multiple Birth Association Contact: 0861 432 432
it’s party time
Baby massage class
playtime & story time Grannies Garden Indoor and outdoor play venue with a coffee shop. Time: Monday– Friday 10am–5pm, Saturday–Sunday 8am– 6pm. Venue: 138 Barkston Dr, Blairgowrie. Cost: R30 per hour. Contact: 011 326 4265 or visit granniesgarden.co.za Hedgehog Lane Outdoor fairground with a ferris wheel, merry-go-round and miniature Hedgehog Express Train. Picnic baskets welcome. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: Garden Shop, 278 Main Rd, Bryanston. Cost: adults free, children R18. For more info: visit hedgehoglane.co.za Jimmy Jungles Indoor adventure playground with supervised, secure facilities for children from 6 months up. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: Shop 60, Stoneridge Centre, Modderfontein. Cost: R30 per hour. Contact: 011 452 2180 or visit jimmyjungles.co.za Parkview Library Story time Suitable for children under 3 years. Time: 10am, every Monday. Venue: Parkview Library, 51 Athlone Ave, Parkview. Cost: free entry. Contact: 011 646 3375 Piccino’s Indoor soft-play area suitable for children aged 2–6 years plus coffee shop for moms. Time: 9am–5pm. Venue: Norwood Mall, Hamlin Rd, Norwood. Cost: R40 per hour. Contact: 011 728 0928 Serendipity Indoor and outdoor play and craft venue with a small restaurant. Time: Tuesday–Friday 10am–5pm, Saturday and Sunday 8:30am–4pm. Venue: 48 Keyes Ave, Rosebank. Cost: free entry for adults; first child R40; second child R30; additional children R20. Contact: 011 447 7386 Yeesh! Fun for Kids Supervised softplay indoor playgrounds with coffee bars. Time: Tuesday–Sunday 9am–5pm. Venue: Unit G6, Woodmead Commercial Park, Waterval Cres, Woodmead and 5 Main Rd, Bryanston. Cost: R40 per hour. Contact Woodmead: 083 923 2306; Bryanston: 073 230 6531 or visit yeesh.co.za
how to help Education for Living The Family Life Centre requires volunteers who are available during the day to work in schools. You will be working with children in Grades 6 and 7, preparing them for puberty. Intensive training is provided. Contact Grainne: 011 788 4784, email@example.com or visit familylife.co.za Freeme is a non-profit organisation that cares for and rehabilitates orphaned, abandoned, and injured indigenous birds, mammals and reptiles. They need volunteers for general administration and other tasks. Contact: 011 807 6993 or visit freemee.org.za Organ Donors 19 August is Annual Organ Donor Tribute Day, which is dedicated to organ donors and their families. Contact The Organ Donor Foundation to find out more about organ donation: 0800 226 611 or visit odf.org.za Share the care The Avril Elizabeth Home is a facility for intellectually impaired children and adults. Elizabeth Anne’s and Purity Toiletry brands have pledged to donate 10 cents to this home for every product sold. For more info: visit avril.org.za The PinkDrive campaign needs 117 000 bras to create the longest bra chain and break the Guiness World Record. All bras are donated to women in impoverished communities. Various drop-off points. For more info: visit pinkdrive.co.za
don’t miss out! For a free listing, email your event to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to 011 234 4971. Information must be received by 5 August for the September issue and must include all relevant details. No guarantee can be given that it will be published.
itâ€™s party time continued...
SAM WILSON on the fun of reviewing eateries with her children.
Joe, Sam and Benj
y day job includes reviewing restaurants. (I know. You hate me. Many do.) I do so love a good restaurant. I love the crisp linen and the joy of wielding a really good steak knife. What I especially love is that feeling when the food arrives and it looks and smells just perfect, and you have to restrain yourself from doing a little dance of happiness. (The same one you do in a changing room when the piece of clothing you’re trying on fits perfectly.) Luckily my sons are also very fond of restaurants and are now old enough not only to accompany me but also to throw in their two cents’ worth. It’s terrifically cool to review restaurants with children. Firstly, it really freaks out the waiters. Secondly, children don’t feel the need to coo in quite the same way adults do when they are fussed over. They are also a lot more frank. Take Benjamin, for example. A few nights ago, he came with me to review a local sushi joint. “Can I have a whole lot of salmon, please?” he asked the waiter. I cringed a little, but only on the inside.
After all, isn’t that what many of us, in our heart of hearts, want to say to waiters in sushi restaurants? There’s a particular joy to watching a child eat sushi, especially if they eat it like Benj – casually yet with all the slurpy happiness of an aquarium seal at show time. It contrasts so sharply with the way so many Western adults eat sushi – reverently following pretentious little ginger-wasabi-soya sauce rituals, acting as if the food is judging us, rather than the other way round. But while Benjamin always scores the sushi gigs because of his salmon obsession, it is his older brother, 10-yearold Josef, who is the real reviewer in our family. Seriously – it’s a little unnerving. “Is it just me or do these porcini mushrooms really overpower the sole?” he said the other night. “Is it just me or is your job ruining our child?” Andreas whispered to me over his wine glass. And he’s right. We do have to be very careful to remind the children of the ridiculousness of our standard of eating
out, especially when compared to our household income. Also, they have to know that one day, Mommy will change jobs again and we will all be back in the Spur faster than you can say “Cheddamelt”. In the meantime I’m really savouring scenes like the one last week, where Joe was sitting, groomed and gleaming, in one of the country’s swankiest restaurants, sampling a Yorkshire pudding, artfully dabbed with a hearty gravy. “Are you enjoying that, little man?” asked the waiter. “Very much,” Joey replied. “It tastes almost exactly like French toast with Bovril. And I love French toast with Bovril.” I don’t know what I enjoyed more. The fact that he was right or the part where the waiter turned puce with restrained laughter, and threw off all pretensions of grandeur for the rest of the evening. Here’s to our children, who never let us get away with unnecessary puffing up. And to fish fingers with tomato sauce, for keeping our palates true. Sam Wilson is the Editor-in-Chief of Women24, Food24 and Parent24.
PHOTOGRAPH: Andreas SpÄth
from fish fingers to sashimi – and back