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Parents and teachers are puzzle pieces in child development - Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Val de Vie and Franschhoek

Emotionally ready for pre-primary school – how parents can help

Supporting your child to become emotionally ready for pre-primary school 

Mixed emotions, difficult choices, coping at work, experiencing utmost joy and contentment. As adults we are well known with these emotions. But what about your child? Emotional development and growth are a crucial part of your child’s early years, and you can help develop these. While this sounds like a daunting task, it is actually quite easy to support your child to become emotionally ready for pre-primary school.

Emotional development starts at home, in your womb. It is important to note that attending pre-primary school isn’t enough to develop your child emotionally, because emotional development can be compared with a 2-piece puzzle. The one piece is called ‘parents’ and the other ‘teachers’.

Parents and teachers are puzzle pieces in child development - Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Val de Vie and Franschhoek

If one of these puzzle pieces is missing, you might be exposing your child to: 

  • a lack of everyday coping skills 
  • difficulties in making friends 
  • a lack of self-belief
  • a sense of “I don’t fit in”
  • difficulties to cope in grade 1 and onwards.

Remember it is your child, not the school’s child. Your child is a learner in the pre-primary school, but his development remains your responsibility, albeit supported by the school. 

Research indicates that the inability to be in touch with and to explain emotions, can be linked to inadequate attention to sensory development. Make use of every opportunity to develop your child’s senses, and vocabulary by having “conversations” with your child.

As a parent, you can develop an emotionally “in touch” child at home, every day, by simply doing the following: Focus on your child’s five senses.

How focusing on sensory development can support your child to become emotionally ready for pre-primary school.

When you go for a walk, or play a game ask

“What noises can you hear?” What do you see/smell that makes you happy/sad/excited? Pick your favourite shaped leaf, squeeze it between your fingers (touch), how does it smell? Which texture do you like most, slippery/rough leaf and bark of a tree. If you still have a baby – use your vocabulary and senses and talk to your child, for example: “This is a beautiful day – look at the clear, blue sky”. “Smell the fresh air/orange rose”. “Feel the grass under your feet. Does it tickle your toes?” Take a few stones home to paint and have fun!

Using textures and feeling to develop your child - emotionally ready for the pre-primary school 

Listen to music 

Play a happy / sad /exciting / slow, fast song & ask your child how he/she feels when listening to that song. Ask questions to find out how your child feels, and how he can express himself. “How do you walk / jump when you feel sad / tired / when it’s very warm?” 

Hand puppets are a must in your household 

Teach your child how to deal with sadness, anger, frustration eg. the angry rabbit has a red ball of fire in his tummy and he wants to yell at his mom, or hit his brother, but he rather chooses to go and drink water / wash his face instead of hurting somebody else. Teach your child healthy ways of dealing with frustration, like hitting his pillow very hard or tearing paper from a magazine, crumpling and throwing it as hard as he can. In the end he realises that he feels better as he got rid of the big, red ball of anger in his body. (The same applies to feelings of sadness). 

Teach your child how to deal with sadness, anger, frustration using hand puppets

Water and sand play will make your day 

There is an old (and wise) saying that goes: Do you want a half-developed child – then don’t play with your child. It is amazing how playing with the simplest items in and around your house can unlock your child’s potential. Here are a few examples of activities you can try: 

  • Play with water and sand
  • Bake mud cakes 
  • Pour bubbles / leaves in the water
  • Wash the sand toys
  • Create situations in and around the house where your child can learn to wait his turn. 

Water and sand play are crucial exercises in your child's development

Touching and feeling different things 

Tickle your child’s nose with a feather, touch/rub her hair or face & say “you are a very special girl”, “I love you so much”. Massage his shoulders and back. Let your child comb / brush your hair. Draw different shapes/numbers on his back and visa versa. 

Be an example 

As a parent, your own emotions, and outlook on life can influence your child. This starts when the child is still in the mother’s womb, a baby, or a toddler. Keep your own emotions in check, and act as an example in developing an emotionally healthy, happy child. 

When tempers or frustrations run high, try the following. Instead of shouting, crying, throwing things around, use positive behaviour and vocabulary, like “I’m just going to drink a glass of water” (go to the bathroom for example and wash our hands/drink water), make yourself a cup of tea (depending on the situation) and then go back. By giving yourself this mental break, you would be able to think realistically and logically again and research indicates that the outcome will be:

  • a happier child, who feels safe and secure
  • a child who’s more ready to face everyday life situations for example dealing better with conflict between friends, having less emotional outbursts and tantrums 
  • becoming a teenager with a positive self-image. 

The school as your partner 

Your partner in the emotional development journey of your child is the school. Remember to check in frequently with your child’s teacher. Listen to what the teacher says and don’t be afraid to ask and understand why your child should be able to master the specific learning activities on his school report. 

In summary the emotional development of your child, where he can believe in himself, be happy and productive, starts with an involved parent. If not, you choose to only have a partly developed child. 

**Note** This article was initially written on request by Midstream College Pre-Primary schools and Bondev (developers of Midstream Estate), as part of a series of articles on child development. This article has already been published in the Midstream Magazine – February 2022 edition, on page 72.

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Photo credits – thanks a lot:
Puzzle pieces photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
Hand puppet photo by Volha Milovich on Unsplash
Child playing with leaves by Scott Webb on Unsplash
Water and sand play photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Sensory awareness activities for children as discussed by Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist

Sensory awareness activities for children

Sensory awareness activities for children

Our senses help us to make contact with our environment. In the article below I will discuss the importance of sensory awareness for emotional development, and also give some examples of sensory awareness activities for children.

All individuals (adults and children) make contact with the environment by making use of their senses, which are

  • seeing
  • hearing
  • smelling
  • tasting
  • touching.

If one is not in touch with ones senses, then it will be very difficult to be in touch with ones emotions.

  • A child communicates his awareness of what is happening in his world through his play.  Play helps promote mental growth as well as emotional needs.
  • Children often lose their sensory awareness and sensitivity in respect of their bodies as a result of traumatic events in their life.  They desensitize themselves in order to protect themselves. 
  • By focusing on children’s sensory and bodily contact-making, they are made aware of the emotions they experience in a specific moment.
  • Through sensory awareness a person is able to live more fully in the world, the connection between mind and body is discovered.

Sensory awareness activities for children

Discuss and experience practically (breath through the nose and mouth) how the nose is used for smelling.

  • Let your child discover the various smells in the air.  Do the activity inside and outside.
  • Describe the smells (what they smell like and what do they remind your child of).
  • Talk about your child’s favourite and non-favourite smells.

Sensory awareness activities for children as discussed by Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist
Talk to your child about different tastes.

  • Let your child stick out his tongue and look at it in the mirror.  Ask him to feel the textures of food under his tongue, on his lips, teeth and in his mouth.  Allow him to describe the tastes and feelings.
  • Give your child different foods to taste that includes sweet-, bitter-, sour- and salty tastes.  Have a small plastic mirror available so that your child can see his facial expressions, as reaction, when he tastes the different foods.
  • Talk about the tastes your child likes and dislikes.

Touch activities
Feeling different objects like, sand, sandpaper, wood, shells, seeds – talk about how it feels, what it reminds your child of.  He can also say, “I don’t like this because it reminds me about …. or I like this, because it reminds me of…, etc.

  • Use finger paint to make pictures (put different textures in the paint like washing powder, sand, sta-soft, etc).
  • Play in the sand and water (use interesting objects like plastic measuring cups, bottles, cookie cutters, etc).
  • Use play dough and encourage your child to roll, cut and crumble the dough.
  • Walk barefoot on various surfaces like sand, stones, water, cushions, sandpaper etc.
  • Both you as parent/caretaker and your child touch the child’s face, head, arms, legs or body parts, and allow him to describe the feeling (use cotton wool, soft brushes, sponges, etc).
  •  Important: All activities must be non-threatening in nature.
  • Allow your child to sit in a spot and list everything he sees.  (You can do the writing if your child is still too small).
  • Look at pictures (for example in a book) and try to remember them in detail.

Sensory awareness activities for children as discussed by Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist

Sensory awareness activities for children continues

Make sunglasses from toilet rolls and use cellophane for lenses through which your child can look at various objects.

  • “Mirror mirror” games – look into mirror for 30 seconds and let your child explains what he saw.  This will helps your child to strengthen a sense of himself.
  • Allow your child to sit in a spot and list everything he sees. (If a child is still to small to write you can do the writing).
  • Look at pictures in a book, and try to remember them in detail.

Sensory awareness activities for children as discussed by Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist
Listening to music helps to bring your child into contact with his feelings.  The words of songs (age appropriate) can help him to identify emotions that he may not be able to express otherwise.

  • Bang household items against each other, for example spoons, chopsticks, etc.  (This is used to promote sensitivity towards sounds).
  • Allow your child to paint while listening to music.
  • Use musical instruments to introduce rhythm, and to make gentle, loud, scary or happy music.  Talk about the happy, sad or scary noises.
  • Demonstrate body movements which can be used to express different emotions and talk about them.  (Stamping feet to express anger, tiptoe to walk quietly, quick steps if you are in a hurry, etc).

Sensory awareness activities for children as discussed by Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist
Walking sensory experience 
Take your child for walks to experience and involve him in sensory exploration.

  • Encourage your child to explore within safe and reasonable limits, for example: What is under that nearby rock? How do the leaves smell? How does the bark from different trees feel?
  • Stop for a moment and listen to different sounds. Can your child hear the trees “moving” in the wind, the birds that fly overhead, the sounds of the city in the distance?
  • Avoid distracting your child with questions while he is involved in sensory exploration of seeing, smelling, hearing and touching. If he starts to talk (about other non-related things, gently turns his attention back to what he is seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, or feeling.


( Resource: Dr S Krog Play Therapy Techniques)

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High quality educational development toys for kids

Photo credits:
Photo by Zahra Amiri on Unsplash (Child crying)
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash (Happy)
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash (Sand play)
Photo by Анна Хазова on Unsplash (Baby and flowers)
Photo by Liuda Brogiene on Unsplash (Mirror)
Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Living and dying – my bucket list

Living and dying – my bucket list

Here is a poem about living and dying, that really is quite inspirational.


You know the lucky thing about my hip replacement?

she asked, not waiting for the answer.

It made me think about advance directives,

my living will, how I’d like to die.


Yeah, he said, her colleague

who chatted amiably with death

each day, like two old men

playing checkers in the park.

I know what you mean.


This is how it is

with the nurses, doctors, therapists

who walk down the halls of dying

as through the home of a relative,

pausing to leaf through the Geographic,

or straighten a family photograph on the wall.


They have earned their ease

the hard way,

learned to reach through the bramble

to find the fruit, add weight

to the rusty pail.


They have not so much grown inured

to pain as they have learned to savor it,

taste the sweetness of the grapefruit’s bite,

feel the glow of a day’s hard toil.


In the end, we need them

as we need seasoned travelers

met in an unfamiliar land.

They greet us on the steep trail,

in the twisting streets, point the way

to a good taverna, trace the path home.

Most of all, they help us

parse the dark syllables in our hearts,

bare them,


and seek cleansing

in the gathering storm.

– Robert A. Neimeyer, (Earl Rogers 2007: xix)


As an educational psychologist who specializes in trauma therapy from the ages of two to 92+, I am confronted with death on a daily basis. In my previous article about death and dying, I’ve discussed death as a taboo subject for most of us. People feel uncomfortable when “death” comes to the surface and they will rather change the subject. Life and death are two sides of one coin, and what we don’t always realize is that the one can’t go without the other one. Life and death, living and dying are intertwined.

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

How do I want to be remembered after my death

Take five minutes and write down a few words about how you want your family, loved ones and friends to remember you. It can be words like fun, patience, always looking at the bright side of life, reading them a story or taking turns to read a book (even when they are in high school) and more. Now write down at least five things that you have achieved in life that you are proud of. (This may be a challenge for many people, as it is much easier to focus on things that we haven’t achieved). Achievements will differ from person to person. For one it might be to be a patient person, for somebody else it might be a diploma or a degree, for another person it might be to encourage others, to be an entrepreneur, to be able to live in the moment, to have a loving family, etcetera.

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Living and dying: My bucket list

Now it’s time to write down five things that you still would like to achieve – a bucket list. This bucket list will add to the things about how your family and loved ones will remember you. You are still alive and you still have a chance. Do you only want people to remember you for having the cleanest house, being a very strict parent (without having time to sit down and listen to your kids), having many degrees (but spent most time in your office, because you are too busy to have fun with your family) or will your choice be to just set aside your responsibilities and chores for a while and play in the sand with your kids, having a lot of laughter and jumping on the trampoline, having a tea break in your beautiful garden, playing in the mud, reading story books, walking around the block, having a picnic in your garden, listening to your teenager’s music without making negative remarks and share your music with them, go cycling and your list can go on and on.

Living and dying, creating memories, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria


I still have a chance for a bucket list

It is in your hands to be and still become the person you want to be remembered after your death. Live your life as if there will be no tomorrow, no next chance to have more patience, to say sorry, to put down your responsibilities for a while to have fun. By making the choice to live life, to teach yourself and your children how to live life, how to see the blue sky, the flowers, how to be on the lookout for and to appreciate the small blessings of every day (birds in the garden, the value of a smile, friendliness with the people around us, patience, being a fun person to live with, being blessed with good health, having warm water, enough food, a beautiful house, a caring family and more) you will also learn how to die. You can only face death if you have learned to live life to its fullest. Life is too short to allow daily chores, work, responsibilities, to keep you away from living (as you are dying if you aren’t living). Teach yourself and your children how to life life to the fullest, in spite of COVID-19, in spite of many uncertainties, in spite of not having enough, in spite of not having a perfect life. Take what you have and make your life a living life and not a dying life.

Living and dying, bucket list, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria


Do you like a challenge? This one is not for the faint of heart, but maybe also for them

Write a memorial letter about yourself, which contains how you want to be remembered. What inspiring music you want to be played on your funeral, maybe you have a special saying that people will always remember. What photo’s would you like to be shown of you on a slide show? Certainly not photo’s of cleaning the house with a grumpy face, of sitting behind your desk, of preparing food with a silence around you that could be cut with a knife. Yes, of course we all have our chores (read why children need to have chores on my Facebook page) and responsibilities – it’s part of life. But do you have photos for your slide show where you are having fun, laugh a lot, play a lot lot, dance like no one is watching! If you don’t have these kind of photo’s, then today is the time to start collecting them, to print it out, to put it on your refrigerator or a special memory clip board, where you and your family can add new photo’s, at least once a month. Life and death, two inseparable sides of the same coin. Only by living life to the fullest, you will be able to learn about peaceful dying. Take up the challenge and make your bucket list today.

Living and dying, creating memories, Dr. Marisa van Niekerk, Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Photo credits:
Thanks to the following photographers for their amazing images used in this post!
List: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Mom and kid: Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash
Dad and kids at beach: Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
Photo memories: Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash
Campfire: Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash
Miles of memories: Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash
death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria

Death and dying therapy

Death and dying therapy

Death and dying therapy is something that people need, but most tend to avoid.

Death and life – two parts of the same coin. The one can’t go with the other one

(Have another look at the picture above. What word do you see? Now rotate the picture 180 degrees. Now what word do you see?)

 “The world breaks everyone and afterward, some grow strong at the broken places”.

As an educational psychologist, who specializes in trauma, including death and dying therapy and who completed both my masters and doctorate degrees in trauma (with both teenagers and adults), I’m confronted on a daily basis with “broken people” and / or hurt people. Examples of what I’m dealing with are divorce, abuse, suicide, death, housebreaking, hijacks, bullying, retrenchments and natural disasters. But one of these traumas remains a taboo subject, an absolutely no, to talk about…DEATH.

death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria
Picture above: No! No! Don’t talk about death


Through the ages and generations death has been a taboo and a ‘no no’ subject and until today most people refuse to think and talk about death. Thinking and talking, as well as reading about death, threaten most people and make them feel uncomfortable. Thus death = silent ignorance (to most people).

The reality is that death and life are two parts of the same “coin”. The one part of this “coin” which is “life” can’t be understand, without understanding something about the second part which is “death”. Our parents teach us how to live (if they themselves knew how, and if we are lucky), but teaching us to die doesn’t even exist in their vocabulary. We don’t want to think and talk about death, because we don’t want to die, at least not for now. The fact is that we all will die and it can happen with you or one of your family members or friends today. Every day, since we can remember, we see, hear and read of people who died, but we think “thank goodness it’s not us”. Then life goes on, until the day arrives when someone close to you die or when you are confronted with death by means of an unexpected diagnosis…and suddenly your life is shattered and falls apart.

Death and dying therapy: A different view

In his book ‘The Alchemist’, Paulo Coelho describes death as a beautiful woman. Coelho says that this beautiful woman (death) is always by his side in life. She had been there since his birth. A friend of Coelho asked him whether the beautiful woman says something. Coelho’s answer to his friend was: The beautiful woman is saying:

“I’m going to kiss you,” and I say to her, “not now, please.” But she says, “OK, not now – but pay attention and try to get the best of every moment because I am going to take you”. And I say, “OK, thank you for giving me the most important advice in life – to live your moment fully.”

death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria

To be able to really learn to live and to understand life, it’s impossible not to learn and understand more about death. Look at the picture of death again. Life and death are intertwined, they can’t be separated and the one can’t exist without the other. People ask: “Where do I start with death?”

The first thing is to face death. Yes, to face death. Facing death means to be able to stand still and say: I am confronted with death and I need to face it. Research indicated that “facing” your fear, panic and insecurities, is the first step to go on and pursue hope. But what is facing death exactly? Facing death is about getting up in the morning, although you do not feel like doing it, and facing the day, facing your fear, facing your challenges and most of all, facing yourself.

Facing yourself and facing the fear of death is about going forward although with trembling legs and maybe sweating hands, and a shattered heart that pounds in your body, even you do not feel like it. Facing death is about going on, like the metaphor of a river which describes trauma:

“The river flows relentlessly to the sea. When it reaches a point where it is blocked by rocks and debris it struggles to find ways to continue its path. Would the alternative be to flow backwards? That is what a person in trauma craves, to go back in time. But life doesn’t provide a reverse gear and the struggle must go forward, like the river, with occasional pauses to tread water and check where we are heading”….water adapts itself to the configuration of the land.

death and dying therapy dr. marisa van niekerk educational psychologist midstream centurion pretoria


Facing death and facing yourself takes a tremendous amount of energy. Don’t face this on your own. There is help. Often during trauma and death, negative experiences of the past, which wasn’t properly faced and addressed, tend to come to the surface again. Feelings of guilt, sleeplessness, anxiety, feelings of depression and more can bother you and make your shattered life even more confusing and unbearable. The intense and overwhelming feelings and emotions which is caused by death infiltrates every cell in your body.

Your brain’s main aim is to protect you. In experiencing trauma your logical and rational thinking process will be put on pause for a while, because your brain will automatically put you in fight, freeze or flight “mode”. That is one of the reasons why you can’t think clearly. Through psychotherapy and counselling you will be supported to face your unresolved issues of the past during your mourning process of death and make it “dealt with” issues.  By sitting with an experienced trauma psychologist, will help you to start to gather the shattered pieces of your life. It will be an intense journey, but by doing this for yourself, will support you to be better equipped for the journey that still lies ahead – as you are alive which means there is still a road to travel.

Should you just need to talk to someone who can listen and walk the journey with you, you can contact me here, or visit my Facebook or Twitter pages.

For more information about death and trauma therapy click here.

Photo credits:

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

Photo by Mattia Ascenzo on Unsplash

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash (Stop)

Photo by Suzy Turbenson on Unsplash (Cemetery)


Paulo Coelho – The Alchamist

Diagram: The grief Centre of Texas. Corr, CA, Nabe, Corr,DM. 2006. Death and dying, life and living. 5thedition. United States of America:Thompson Wadsworth.

Van Niekerk, AMS. 2011. Opvoedkundig-Sielkundige riglyne vir die hantering van die verlies- en treurproses (Unpublished M.Ed Dissertation).

Divorce family counselling Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Why do you as parent need to consider post-divorce recovery seriously?

Why do you as parent need to consider post-divorce recovery seriously?

On my blog I have earlier discussed why post-divorce family therapy is of such importance, and why you should consider post-divorce recovery. Before you consider a divorce or if you are going through a divorce or being divorced, think of the following traumatic changes which your children will most possible get through (depending of your circumstances):

Let’s just refresh our minds. What are commonly accepted to be the most traumatic incidents in life?

Impact of divorce on families Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

The top traumatic events (as also mentioned here) are listed as:

  • The death of a loved one.
  • Separation or divorce.
  • Getting married.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Starting a new job.
  • Job loss.
  • Workplace stressors.
  • Financial problems.
  • Moving to a new house, town of country.

I recommend the following books that you could use to talk to your children about divorce: “Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce“, “Two Homes” and “Living with Mom and Living with Dad“.

The impact of divorce on children can be profound, and long lasting

Impact of divorce on children Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Traumatic changes which children of divorced families are facing:

  • Having a second home. Imagine yourself as parent to be moved weekly from one house to another, where rules and routines differ (even slightly, it differs).
  • Not all their belongings are there, some of which might let them feel at home or secure.
  • Forgetting belongings at the other parent’s house which they haven’t even thought of.
  • The impact of dealing with a new girl-or boyfriend in their parent’s life.
  • New “siblings” to get along with.
  • New “siblings” at home who might occupy or cling to his / her dad / mom and who says it’s my dad / mom and more.
  • Sharing a room with a new sibling (essentially a stranger at first).
  • Adjust to new friends in a dad’s or mom’s life.
  • New ways in which a dad or mom acts and socialises (as age doesn’t matter – whether you are 12, 16, or 82, love sets free feeling good hormones of which endorphin is one, in your brain, and you act differently).
  • Dealing with feelings like: ‘Does my mom / dad still love me?’. ‘Won’t she / he forget about me because his new family lives with him now?’
  • A new baby, and / or ‘siblings’ and divided attention from a parent.
  • A new school.
  • A new caretaker to adjust to.
  • Less financial privileges.
  • More financial privileges.
  • Different financial privileges at the two different households.
  • New unknown emotions and feelings like sadness, guilt (many children believe it was their mistake that their parents got divorced), anger, isolation, depression, insecurities and more.
  • Identity and role changes (not being the youngest / oldest in the family any more).
  • Perceived ‘unfair’ discipline by mom’s / dad’s new boy- or girlfriend.

Put yourself in your children’s shoes

It really is important that you put yourself in your child’s / children’s shoes and try to experience what they might be experiencing. Remember every child is different and not all of them will experience the same emotions and feelings. What a child will experience will depend on aspects like his position in a family, personality types, previous trauma and setbacks in his / her life and more.

Conclusion: Why do you as parent need to consider post-divorce recovery seriously?

Important: The aim of this information isn’t to make you feel more guilty about your divorce. You might have been in a verbal / emotional / physical abusive relationship or in a relationship with a spouse who is addicted, cheats on you and more. Sometimes you don’t actually have another option but to get divorced (and depending of your circumstances it might be better for you and your children). The aim is however to give you a better perspective of what the theory says about divorce, and the impact thereof on families, and to understand what your children might be experiencing when dealing with parents’ divorce. This will give you good tools to help them deal with these huge challenges.


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Photo credits:
Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash
Photo by Kat J on Unsplash
Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash
GPS tracker watches in schools

GPS tracker watches in schools

GPS tracker watches in schools: Introduction

Should GPS tracker watches in schools be allowed?

Nothing can be more terrifying and induce panic than to loose your child in a mall, in a crowd or even on a family outing. It is a natural part of most parents to worry about the safety of their children. One of the questions, in an unsafe country like South Africa, which is at the order of the day, is whether allowing GPS tracker watches in schools could be the answer to your child’s protection and safety. GPS means global positioning satellite and a chip is used in a variety of GPS devices such as watches, clothing, cell phones and clothes (a surgeon can even implant a GPS chip into a child’s body). A GPS is a technology which informs you where people and things (e.g. your car and child) are at all times.

In thís article the focus is especially on GPS tracker watches in pre-primary schools in South Africa. Some of the devices can track children continuously, while others only start to respond if a child leaves the boundaries of a specific area. Some tracker watches even have a panic button and / or a cellphone to make an urgent call. Technology offers more options and choices, but it also implies that more decisions should be made by parents. Parents admit that they are under “responsibility pressure” as well as “peer pressure” to decide whether it will be good to buy their child a GPS tracker watch to know exactly where their child is and to protect their child. What complicates the tracker watch option more is the controversy among parents and professionals like teachers and therapists whether the answer to buy a tracker watch for your pre-primary child should be a yes or a no.

Like so many other puzzling questions with regards to your child, which have no definite yes or no answer, this is the conundrum here. Now what should a parent do? First know the pros and the cons of a GPS tracker watch for your pre-primary child. 

Click here for a link to where you can shop for GPS tracker watches

GPS tracker watches in schools: Pros of tracker watches

  • Parental peace that comes from knowing where your child is all the time.
  • Should there be an emergency, for example a kidnapping, the police and others can immediately start to search for your child and find him more quickly.
  • Parents can be more relaxed when their child goes for a play date to a friend, instead of saying no and deprive their kid of the chance to better socialise; or saying yes, but worrying about the safety of their child all the time.

GPS tracker watches in schools: Cons of tracker watches

  • Children are children and can break the device or take it off when they play.
  • A child attacker who is well informed will look for a GPS tracker watch and get rid of it.
  • Strangers aren’t the greatest threat to a child’s safety, sometimes a close friend and / or family member can be more dangerous and be well aware to remove the GPS tracker watch.
  • The GPS tracker watch gives parents security to know where their child is, but emotionally a child can become too dependent and over reliant on his parents.
  • The change exists that parents as well as their child rely too much on the watch and that parents tend to omit to teach their child about his own safety as well as safety rules, for example what to do when a stranger approach you and how to remove yourself from dangerous situations.
  • Technology is not perfect and systems can fail.
  • Be careful not to become a helicopter parent.
GPS tracker watches in schools
GPS tracker watches in schools

GPS tracker watches in schools: What is a helicopter parent?

“The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011. Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide. (Taken from What is helicopter parenting?

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GPS tracker watches in schools: What do professionals say?

Dr. Erik Fisher, psychologist and author of The art of empowered Parenting says that there are indeed pros, but examples of pitfalls are:

  • A child gets the idea that he’s never too safe and today kids already are scared of too many things.
  • The replacement of being an active parent which includes teaching your child problem solving skills and to be able to make decisions.

Fisher’s advice to parents is to determine their real motives for having a GPS tracker watch on their child. Parents should further determine how their child feels about the device, but it’s more applicable for older children than for pre-primary kids, as most pre-primary kids are still in the development phase where they find it difficult to express their feelings in language.

A psychologist from Ohio New York who does research on parenting, says the following: “I can understand how a parent might want to know if their child is having a problem, but I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful for children to always be able to turn to their parents when they are struggling. We want children to develop problem solving skills and the capacity to manage stress.” No matter where you as parent stand in the debate, remember the “traditional” methods of looking after your children and know where they are. Know what your child wear in case of separation and report. Teach and repeat and point out boundaries in their different environments where they will be at different times of the day. Teach your child to whom he can go for help.

GPS tracker watches in schools: Pre-primary Schools’ dilemmas

Dilemmas / questions / challenges?

Have you ever thought that technology also causes challenges at your child’s school?

Think of the following practical examples: Pre-primary education is all about developing your child’s skills in order to reach his full potential as a whole child (emotionally, physically, socially, mentally) and to get him ready for school. Activities are therefore carefully planned and rotated to give your child the opportunity to develop and practice these skills. These developmental activities include sand, clay, paint, water, drawings, etcetera. In order to be able to play freely many kids want to take off their GPS tracker watches.  And then, it’s watches everywhere, children everywhere, teachers who need to keep a good eye on the children and watches full of sand, water, paint and sometimes crying children as their parents told them to take good care of their tracker watches.

Another factor to consider at school is the right to privacy. Some GPS tracker watches also have a small microphone attached to the watch, which allow parents to listen to what is happening around their child, almost like a baby monitor.

This could be problematic, and could infringe other children, or the teacher’s right to privacy, and hence should be addressed by the school’s management team, in consultation with the school’s legal advisor.

So, let’s get back to the point again. Please go back and read the pro’s and cons of buying a GPS tracker watch for your pre-primary child. You want a child with strong “wings” who can fly. Keep that in mind and make the best decision for the sake of your child.

GPS tracker watches in schools: References

Do You Know Where Your Kids Are? GPS Tracking for Children;

Tracking devices are getting increasingly popular;

Pros and cons of GPS watches to track your kids;

GPS Tracking children: Good or Bad Idea;

Exam stress tips for parents midstream pretoria

Spel en leesprobleme: Opvoedkundige Sielkundige raad

Spel en leesprobleme: Inleiding

“Help! My kind sukkel met spel, skryf en lees!” Dis ’n noodkreet waarmee opvoedkundige sielkundiges daagliks te doen kry. “Niemand het my ooit gesê dat daar enige probleem met my kind is nie!” Dis weer ’n baie algemene uitdrukking van ’n ouer se frustrasie met ’n kind wat skryf, spel en leesprobleme ervaar.

Spel en leesprobleme: Die basis

Het jy al ooit aan die volgende gedink: Ten einde te leer spel, lees en skryf, moet jou kind die volgende weet:

  • wat die name van sy liggaamsdele is;
  • waar sy linker- en regterkant is (belangrik: om dit werklik te ken, moet hy ook weet waar links en regs is as hy byvoorbeeld na ’n ander kant toe kyk);
  • deeglik kennis dra van die grondbeginsels: voor/agter; bo-op/onder; langs; tussen; voor/na; en so meer.

Spel en leesprobleme: Begin hier

Jou kind moet ook (onder meer) die volgende kan doen ten einde gereed te wees om skryf- en leesvaardighede aan te leer:

  • huppel en galop (ritmiese bewegings);
  • stap, draf, hardloop (ritmies en op die maat van musiek);
  • op ’n reguit lyn vorentoe en agtertoe kan loop (sonder om vir sy voete te kyk en sonder om langs die lyn te trap);
  • vloeiende en egalige skrifpatrone kan maak.

Spel en leesprobleme: Wat?

Bogenoemde voorbeelde klink vir baie ouers na ’n spul twak, veral as hul kind ook die volgende moet kan doen: sterspronge, op een been staan, touspring, eenbeentjie of hinkspel (“hopscotch”) kan speel, ritmiese patrone kan “na-klap” (“copy”), krale kan inryg, netjies kan knip, ’n bal kan vang, skop, gooi, bons en so meer.

Spel en leesprobleme: Dis als oor ritme

spel en leesprobleme
Spel en leesprobleme

Die rede waarom jou kind al bogenoemde aktiwiteite moet kan uitvoer, is omdat lees en skryf ritmiese bewegings behels. Bogenoemde aktiwiteite vorm met ander woorde deel van die boustene vir lees en skryf. ’n Kind wat byvoorbeeld nie weet waar die linker- en regterkant van sy lyf is nie, kan probleme ervaar om tussen b en d te onderskei. ’n Kind wat nie weet waar voor of na, of eerste/middelste en laaste is nie, sal moontlik probleme met spelling en die volgorde van letters ervaar soos byvoorbeeld: mat – watter klank hoor jy eerste/laaste/in die middel of voor/na.

Spel en leesprobleme: Wanneer moet ek begin?

Baie ouers vra die vraag: Moet ek my kind formeel leer lees en skryf voor graad 1? Die antwoord is “nee” – gaan speel net met jou kind, want so berei jy hom voor om gereed te wees om te leer lees en skryf. En wees versigtig om nie te dink dat as jy jou kind ’n oulike werkboekie in die hand stop en saam met hom deurwerk, hy goed voorberei word vir lees en skryf nie. Wat jou kind nodig het, is (in hierdie volgorde):

Driedimensionele aktiwiteite:

  • opdragte soos: “Staan agter/voor/langs die swaai”;
  • “Skop die grootste bal”;
  • “Raak met jou regterhand aan jou linkeroor”.

Tweedimensionele aktiwiteite:

  • kaartspeletjies;
  • bordspeletjies;
  • penborde;
  • opdragte soos: “Sit die rooi sirkel aan die linkerkant van die blou sirkel”; “Watter prent is die naaste aan jou?”.

Eendimensionele aktiwiteite:

  • papierwerk en werkkaarte.

Jou kind moet eers driedimensioneel kan speel en leer voordat hy gereed is om op tweedimensionele vlak te speel en te leer. Die eendimensionele vlak is die laaste in die ry.

Spel en leesprobleme: Waar kry ek hulp?

Waar kan ’n ouer wie se kind sukkel met spel en lees aanklop vir hulp? ’n Opvoedkundige sielkundige kan ’n assessering doen ten einde te bepaal wat jou kind se verstandelike vermoë is en indien wel, watter gapings jou kind toon. ’n Opvoedkundige sielkundige sal jou, indien nodig, na ’n arbeidsterapeut verwys, indien jou kind se vaardighede ter gereedmaking van lees en skryf nie vasgelê is nie. ’n Opvoedkundige sielkundige sal ook die nodige verwysings kan maak na ’n pediatriese oogkundige, oudioloog, spraakterapeut en so meer, as sy vermoed dat daar enige probleme in hierdie gebiede is.

Spel en leesprobleme: Nog inligting

Wil jy meer weet hoe om jou kind te ondersteun om gereed te wees vir lees en skryf? Gaan lees dan meer oor onder meer klim en klouter, middellynkruising, balans, luistervaardighede (ouditiewe persepsie) en sigvaardighede (visuele persepsie), sowel as growwe en fyn motoriese koördinasie.

Spel en leesprobleme: Ten laaste

Let wel: Hierdie artikel geld nie slegs vir graad 1-leerders nie, maar is ook van toepassing op ander leerders in die grondslag- en selfs primêre fase (en soms ook sekondêre fase) wat lees- en skryfprobleme het – tensy ander probleme soos disleksie en/of ’n disfunksie in sy brein gediagnoseer is. Indien daar geen disfunksies by jou kind gediagnoseer kan word nie, kan die opvoedkundige sielkundige die nodige verwysings maak na relevante professionele kundiges wat jou kind kan ondersteun. Die deurslaggewende faktor vir sukses word uiteindelik grootliks bepaal deur die ouers se verbintenis (“commitment”) om hul kind tuis met die huiswerk, wat die terapeute gee, te help.

Hierdie artikel is deel van ‘n reeks artikels wat ek vir Maroela Media in 2015 geskryf het.

Seven hints for a grieving person

Seven hints for a grieving person

Seven hints for a grieving person: Introduction

Grieving people are usually concerned about their feelings and experiences. They wonder: Am I normal? What is wrong with me?  So here are seven hints for a grieving person.

Seven hints for a grieving person: Dealing with the changes

As discussed in a previous post, a grieving person may experience a lot of changes and feelings throughout his body as well as in his relationships with other people. These physical-, social-, and emotional changes (see a previous post) are normal. If you are going through the immense pain of the grieving process, print out the following seven hints for a grieving person and read and remember it many times during your days:

1. You are loveable even when you are a confused mess.
2. Crying is a gift.
3. Almost every thought, behaviour and feeling is normal.
4. You are not alone.
5. People are uncomfortable with grieving people.
6. No matter how bad you feel, you will survive.
7. It takes as long as it takes.

Mary Kelly Perschy

Parents and teachers are puzzle pieces in child development - Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Val de Vie and Franschhoek

Emotionally ready for pre-primary school – how parents can help

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Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Health, books, writing are all part of the essential school readiness tips for parents

School readiness tips for parents

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Sensory awareness activities for children as discussed by Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist

Sensory awareness activities for children

Sensory awareness activities for children Our senses help us to make contact with our environment. In the article below I …