Reading CAN make you happy!

It’s time to go back to school again!

I know lots of kids complain about school but I quite like it. I enjoy learning new things and finding out about interesting stuff, not to mention seeing all my friends again. We always have lots to talk about after the end of year break. Sometimes there are new kids in the class and that is cool too. This year I have signed up to do friendship bench duty – but more about that in another blog.

One of the things that really makes me happy is reading. You can absolutely never be bored, lonely or sad (okay – sometimes you can be miserable if the story is sad) if you have a book to read.

I was unbelievably shattered to find out that many kids my age cannot read. Seriously! They did a study and out of the 50 countries in the world that participated, South Africa has the worst statistics. 78% of our Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. That means 8 out of 10 students can read – but don’t really understand what they have just read.

Even worse, it did not matter what language they were reading. Many of those kids were reading something in their home language and still did not understand what they had just read.

The thing is… if a person cannot read, and make sense of what they are reading, how on earth can they plan to study and go further in life? It certainly makes things very difficult, if not almost impossible.

My parents used to read to me most nights when I was smaller. I couldn’t wait to hear the next bit of the story. I would see the pictures in my head and imagine what the people or animals looked like. I always used to beg for a few more pages to be read but my folks were pretty strict about only ever reading one chapter per night. Luckily now I can read myself!

Often, parents are too busy or weary to read to their children at night. If the kids are lucky they might get to hear an audio book before they go to sleep, but sometimes they just get plonked in front of the TV instead. TV is absolutely no substitute for reading. You use less brain power than you do when you are sleeping while watching TV.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to read more… please people.


Smarty Pants

I read some stuff about being smart the other day – with exams coming  up we could all probably use a little extra smarts!

English is a strange language because “smart” has four different meanings.

It can mean a person is clever and quick in thought or action. For example, Mpho is really smart – she passed all her exams.

It could also mean that a person is well-dressed. For example, Mpho looked really smart in her new outfit.

Another meaning is to feel a sharp, stinging pain. For example, Mpho’s arm smarted for ages after the wasp stung her.

Lastly, it can mean that you feel annoyed or resentful after being insulted. For example, Mpho smarted for the whole of break time after Sandile said she was fat.

We are talking about the first one… here are some ways to help make us smarter.

  • Ask questions. It really is good to ask if we don’t know or understand something.
  • Get some exercise. This is a no-brainer – we know we feel better when we get out into the fresh air and start moving. Cycle, jog, walk briskly, hula hoop…
  • Eat healthy. Crunch apples and carrots instead of chips or sweets for snacks.
  • Keep a journal. It’s good to sit at the end of the day and reflect on all that has happened. It makes your memory work a bit harder too.
  • Learn a new skill. It does not have to be anything fancy – learn to knit, to code, or maybe how to bake – go nuts and try something new. Nothing ventured nothing gained!
  • Hang out with other smart people. This is so true – if we spend time with people who are interesting and interested – we feel smarter too.
  • Challenge your brain. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku’s. Play memory games.
  • Change your routine. Try not to do things the same old boring way every single day – vary the order in which you do things, or eat lunch outside instead of inside. Sit in a different spot at school break. As the saying goes… a change is as good as a holiday.
  • Get enough sleep. Do it! Go to sleep at a decent hour our bodies need time to recover from a busy day.
  • Read more. Join a library or swap books with friends. There are also plenty of eBooks free on the internet that are available to read on cell phones too.

Think smart peeps!



Breakfast is Important

Hope you all have survived the first week of school.

I was so tired the second morning that I almost did not make it to breakfast. Sadly my mum nagged me so much that I did not have a choice.

Sibo! She said. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Whaaatttt?  I am not even hungry yet at breakfast time. I have done nothing but sleep all night.

You’ve been fasting all night, she said. That’s where the name comes from – “Break Fast”. You must eat to have energy to manage for the rest of the day.

I yawned and staggered off to the breakfast table.

Okay – I’ll just have a piece of toast.

No ways – she smiled at me. You will have cereal, egg on toast and a piece of fruit!

I glared at her and she wagged her finger at me. No attitude from you missy! Eat your food.

Research shows that you can remember things better when you eat a decent breakfast. This is because the food restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for our brains to function. I suppose that this is important so that we can remember what we learn at school.

Also – they say that if you eat breakfast as your biggest meal of the day – you are more likely to lose weight. Probably because then you are not always hungry and snacking on junk food all the time instead of eating a proper meal.

Not only does my mum make me eat breakfast, but she also makes me eat it at the table. Sitting properly too, not slouched all over the place. I’m not even allowed to have my elbows on the table to prop my head up.

She and Dad sit and eat breakfast with me.  Dad tried reading his newspaper once and Mum gave him a very evil eye. No ways – she said. This is family chat time.

She’s always very chirpy in the mornings. Dad tends to answer with just one word. I don’t really think he’s such a morning person.

Must admit though – I do feel a bit more sprightly after eating breakfast – maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all. And remember how good eggs are for you – we’ve talked about that before.

Take time to eat and enjoy your breakfast people!

SiboSibo and eggs

Multi-tasking… good or bad?

Sibo at her desk

Often we have more than one thing that needs to be done – like maths homework, reading, spelling to learn, chores to do, the dog to walk and an art project that also needs to be finished.

Sometimes it is all mind-bogglingly too much and you feel like running away. Seeing as that’s mostly just not possible, you have to get stuck in and just do the darn stuff.

Lately there has been a lot of research done on multitasking – this is when you have several things on the go at one time.

They say that it is not always effective to do this.

Often you jump around between doing so many different tasks that you get nothing done properly. They reckon you should make a list and prioritise which are the most important things that need to be done.

Then you should stick to that list.

For instance – if you need to learn something – you really need to concentrate so that you will be able to remember it later and therefore you should not multitask while doing that particular job.  It is better to focus 100% on it – like learning for exams – dedicate a chunk of time and get it done properly.

On the other hand – they say that when your mind jumps between a lot of boxes – your mind tends to think more “out of the box” which could be great for creative things – like art projects.

For things like spelling you could put a list of the words you need to learn next to your bed, so you can see them last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Or you can read them when you go to the bathroom.  In this case a lot of repetition is good.

You could combine your daily exercise when you walk your dog – but remember you still have to be careful and not to let it off the leash by mistake. Accidents happen so quickly and you would never forgive yourself if you let something happen to you precious doglet.

Sometimes chores are really boring – like washing dishes or vacuuming – but you can always listen to music while you wash. I love listening to music – it makes any chore go much faster.

But remember – dedicate time to the important stuff and do it properly.

Work well!


Days Have Names Too!

Sibo hands

Last week we talked about names that people have – but days also have names and I’m not talking about the boring old weekdays or the lovely weekend days either!

For instance, the 27th April is Freedom Day. It’s a public holiday and I’m sure you were all as glad as I was that we did not have to go to school or work on that day.

Some public holiday days are always the same – like Christmas, New Year and Woman’s Day. Easter moves around because it is defined as being the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (in simple terms – that’s some moon event). Ramadan is the same – it also moves around.

Then you get other days that have been declared things like “World Wildlife Day” (3 March), “World Water Day” (22 March) or “World Malaria Day” (25 April) by the United Nations or some other body.  There are lots of these days. Just last week we had “Earth Day” (22 April) and we made my book on global warming – Sibo Makes a Difference – available on the website for people to freely read. It’s still there if you want to go and have a look.

On the 1st of May we have “Workers Day”. This is a public holiday in South Africa but not necessarily everywhere else in the world.

These days, if a public holiday falls on a Sunday – we get the Monday off. Yay!

There are also a number of other days in May but they are not public holidays. Things like “World Press Freedom Day” on the 3rd, “International Day of Families” on the 15th, “International Day of Biological Diversity” on the 22nd and “World No-Tobacco Day” on the 31st.

There are a lot of other day’s in-between too – but most of us would not easily relate to the topics. If you want to know when and what all the different days in the year are, you can visit this website – it lists them all in a really easy way with clickable links.

Of course the most important day to remember in May is Mother’s Day on the 8th. We all know that our moms are the most special people – no matter how old we are or they are. Make sure you spoil yours.

Happy Days!


Back to school

Miss Ball and Sibo

Sjoe! I can’t believe that the holidays are over and it’s school time again.

This year started out a tad on the sucky side.  I overslept and mum had to come and wake me up the first day. I had set my alarm clock because Wayne and I wanted to get to school  long before the bell rang.

Somehow I did not set the alarm properly and instead of waking up nice and early to get ready peacefully and calmly – I ended up being in a big fat rush.

First I buttoned my shirt up wrongly and then I could not find my socks. Totally ridiculous because I knew I had put them out the night before. They were all neat and tidy on my chair with the rest of my uniform. In my hurried scramble they had rolled off under my desk. I had to grovel around to find them which took extra time.

I ended up snarfing down a piece of toast for breakfast instead of sitting quietly and enjoying my cornflakes. Plus I forgot to pack in my lunch and mum had to come charging down the garden path in her dressing gown. This really annoyed her. She does not like going outside unless she is properly dressed.

Wayne was standing at the gate tapping his toes. He too was not impressed that I was late.

We thought about running but then remembered that it’s not good to run in case you trip and land up in the road. So we walked really fast.

It was great to see our friends again. There were also some new kids lurking around on the outskirts of the hubbub going on in the playground. They looked all shy and insecure.

Shame – it’s horrible to be a new kid at school and not know anybody. Wayne, Lizzie and I went and chatted to them. Turned out that one of the new guys is in our class and he’s really nice.

It’s great to know that there is a whole year ahead of us where we can learn new things, meet new people and do different exciting stuff. Our new teacher is quite nice too.

Hope your first day at school was good.

See you next week.


Cool word of the week.

Word: Hubbub
Meaning: A noisy situation
Example: The hubbub in the class room quietened down when the new teacher walked in.

People Protesting

Sjoe! There was fun and games on the TV last week.

Well, I know it was not really on the TV but that was as close as I came to it.

All those people protesting about University fees going up so much that they would not be able to afford them. But it seemed to me that they behaved in a very calm and controlled way instead of burning and destroying things. That always makes me mad. What’s the point?

Hope it gets sorted out soon.

I’m just a little kid – but it makes sense to me that the Government should invest in their youth. Just because you don’t have the money to study further does not mean that you should not be able to do it.

It excludes people from reaching their full potential.

Somebody might be really clever and be able to come up with an innovative idea or plan that helps save the country somehow, but instead they never get to even try. That would be really sad.

I keep wondering why nobody has come up with a plan for solar-powered traffic lights. Or if they have – where ever are they hiding it? Especially in Gauteng where the traffic is busy and the sun shines brightly most days.

Those suckers would just keep on working – never mind whether Eskom was alive or dead.

Then we would not have traffic jams and we would not be late for school. It always feels like such a silly reason to be late for school… Sorry I’m tardy Miss but the robots were not working! She always looks at me like I’m fibbing when I’m really not.

But I was thinking… if we are all going to have an opportunity to study further one day and learn lots of lovely new and exciting things, then we should better pull up our socks and start working really hard to get good grades. Probably Universities and Technicon’s will be full and so they are going to choose people with good grades first because it shows that they want to learn.

No more chatting, I’m off to do some revision now.

Good luck to all the matrics who are about to start writing exams soon.


Cool word of the week: gripe
Meaning: protest, grumble, moan
Example: The students were all having a serious gripe about the hike in university fees.

Sibo standingMe with my socks pulled up!