PODCAST: Episode 1
Stacey Baisitse – Home-Based Learning During COVID and The Positive Impact of Smartick
Click on the YouTube link to watch Stacey’s full episode where we discuss her personal approach to home-based learning during COVID and how Smartick has had such a positive impact on her daughter’s understanding of math.
Brought to you by Smartick.
About Our Guest: Stacey Baisitse
Stacey is an official MomFluencer for MomSays SA, an accomplished blogger, content creator, and full-time mother of 3. She runs a popular blog focusing on the responsibilities of motherhood, building, managing, and maintaining a diverse family and consistently delivers bite-sized content helping new parents navigate the challenges of parenthood.
Stacey is a proud advocate for diversity and inclusivity and remains passionate about education and the responsibility of all parents to play an active role in developing their children’s academic roadmap.
- Stacey’s personal education journey.
- The challenges of home-based learning during COVID.
- Tips for first-time parents.
- The role that online programs play in the education journey.
- The future of home-based learning.
- How Smartick has helped her kids.
Listen to Stacey’s Episode on Your Preferred Podcast Channel
Full Episode Transcription
Philip von Ziegler: In this episode, I’ll be speaking with Stacey Baisitse. Stacey is an official Momfluencer for MomSays SA, an accomplished blogger, content creator, and proud mother of three.
She runs a popular blog focusing on the responsibilities of motherhood, building, managing, and maintaining a diverse family, and consistently delivers bite-sized content, helping new parents navigate the challenges of parenthood. Stacey is a proud advocate for diversity and remains passionate about education and the responsibility of all parents to play an active role in developing their child’s academic roadmap.
In this episode, we cover topics such as the challenges of home-based learning during COVID, tips for first-time parents, the role that online programs play in the education journey, the future of home-based learning, how Smartick has helped her kids, and a range of other topics. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Stacey, and I’m sure you will too. Without further ado, I give you Stacey Baisitse. Stacey, lovely to have you here.
Stacey Baisitse: Thank you so much for having me.
PvZ: My pleasure. To start off with, tell us a little bit about your personal education journey.
SB: Okay so, basically, I went to your traditional school. I completed junior school all the way through to high school. I passed really well. I focused my high schooling on more creative subjects, so I did graphic design, I did art, travel, and tourism; I passed really well. I did, however, drop maths. So I did do math literacy, and the only reason why I did that is not that I was doing bad in maths, it was bringing my aggregate down. So I decided to take math literacy, which brought my overall aggregate up, and that obviously got me into a really good university. I applied to study graphic design at CPUT, which is the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
I did my first year, but what I found was, it wasn’t what I expected it to be. Because I am a creative person, very hands-on, I did find that the digital part of it, it intimidated me at that point in time. I mean, I was young, I just came out of school. And during my schooling days, we weren’t exposed to much technology. So I think for me, as much as I loved the subject, or the content of what we were doing, I loved the painting. I think the digital side of it, intimidated me a lot and I kind of strayed away from it. So, unfortunately, I didn’t finish my studies, for that and other reasons as well. But I didn’t get to finish my graphic design.
I decided to leave university and that’s where I started working. I started working in a financial institute, where I dealt a lot with numbers, which was quite ironic, because, I mean, I dropped maths at school. But what I did find was that I practised a lot. I made sure that, the technology side of it, I did my self-research. And in that company, I grew really quickly.
In terms of what happened next, I got my first promotion as something called a Virtual Wizard Facilitator, again with technology, where I did induction training for staff all via telephone. And that was hard, because I am a social butterfly, so I love interacting with people. I love speaking to people on a face-to-face basis. So when I had to do a telephonically, that was quite an adjustment, but I enjoyed that.
That’s when I had my first child, my daughter’s seven, and, yeah, I had kids after that. I stayed in that job for seven years and I decided to leave it where I wasn’t feeling quite fulfilled. As I said, it was a financial institute to what I wanted to do in life, which was more artistic, graphic design, art. I felt like I needed to do something different. I needed to, I mean, I’m not just a mom. I’ve got my kids now, I need to take the next step, and that is when I left my job and I became a full-time stay-at-home mom. But I also studied project management, so that’s where I am now.
The Role of Math in Stacey’s Life Then and Now
PvZ: Okay, well, it sounds incredible. One of the things that stood out to me there was obviously the decision to go down the maths literacy route. Would you argue that you sort of felt anxious about maths at school?
SB: I did.
SB: But also, because I never understood how it would help me specifically for what I wanted to do. Do I regret not taking maths? No, I don’t regret it. But I feel like if maths was taught a little bit differently, to include more of what I wanted to do, because also I’m not only passionate about art. I mean, I did data management at the African Bank as well. So if a little bit of that was incorporated into my schooling, I feel I would have kept it. But I mean, it wasn’t, yeah, it was quite difficult for me!
PvZ: So tell me a little bit about your kids.
SB: Okay, so Mia, she’s my eldest, she’s seven years old. She’s just like me. She just reminds me so much of myself. She’s also my artistic little butterfly, she loves painting. And then I have Liam, Liam is four years old, he just turned five. He is a little bit more analytical than what Mia is, and that’s what I’ve noticed about them. She’s more of the artistic one, and he can sit and do puzzles, and he loves calculating things and he can build these big Lego sets, and that’s something that my daughter doesn’t quite enjoy.
And then obviously, my youngest one, she’ll be turning one. So she’s still a baby, but she’s got a personality and a half. Yeah, we’re still getting used to and getting to know what she likes and what she doesn’t like.
PvZ: That’s exciting, so three kids, is that the limit?
SB: Ya, uph! Three kids is more than enough, yes.
Stacey’s View on Education Since Lockdown
PvZ: So since lockdown, how has your views on education changed?
SB: Okay, first, I just have a whole new respect for teachers. I mean, especially for the fact that they still do their school on Google classroom. But I have all my kids at home because they’re asthmatic. So they, for now, will be at home just until things die down.
It’s been extremely difficult. As a stay-at-home mom, you know, you don’t get a break, but what I found was their bond has gotten quite close, which I appreciate about lockdown because they’ll always have that. I would say that Mia’s school hasn’t done … or I would say it’s difficult for me to navigate through the whole Google Classroom, because first of all, before lockdown, I had no idea about Zoom and Google Classroom. Technology and I, it’s just … and that’s also something that needed to change with me and Liam.
The online learning has been difficult because, for a kid, they don’t understand why they can’t see their friends anymore. I think it took an emotional toll on my daughter, including my son, but more my daughter, because, as I said, she’s just like me, she’s a social butterfly. So she was very confused as to why she needs to change how she learned at school to how she learns at home.
And that’s also something that I focused on, is that I want an environment at home, especially because I’m homeschooling. It can’t be like school. I have to teach in a way that is convenient for me as a mother but also benefits my daughter. So I would do things that is required of me on Google Classroom in a much different way than what they would ask because I do it verbally while I’m washing the dishes. And I think that’s important that you don’t turn your home into a school, because eventually when she does go back to school, she needs to know that that’s her home and that’s her school.
And then also I want her to learn, but in a way that is conducive to her environment. Not making her get up at 8 o’clock like she would for school and say, okay, now you need to go and sit in the lounge because it’s school time. So it would kind of flow every day very differently. Yeah, that’s me trying to get used to the whole lockdown thing because, I mean, for most parents, the kids are back at school. But for mine, they’re still at home, so lockdown is still very real for myself and my family.
PvZ: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point, and I think a lot of parents are actually considering homeschooling. I think a lot of parents aren’t comfortable with the idea of sending their kids back to school during this time. And for parents that are working full-time, I think there’s a lot of anxiety about whether or not to send their kids to school.
SB: Yeah, definitely.
Homeschooling Advice From a Homeschooling Mom
PvZ: And if they decide to homeschool them, what do they do? I think for a lot of parents who have full-time work, this becomes a very difficult question. So, speaking from experience, what tips of bits of advice would you give parents at this time that are looking to either temporarily or potentially permanently, homeschool their kids going into this next year?
SB: I think firstly, as a parent, I think it’s important to not question yourself for we know what’s best for our kids. And I think it’s important when you make the decision, not to let anything or anyone influence that decision, because for each parent, we have our kids’ best interests at heart.
So for me, I would say, you need structure. As difficult as it is as a parent to navigate all these things that you have to do, there has to be a routine. So that’s a tip that I would give to parents. It might not go according to plan, but to have a plan is a start. And it’s important especially to get the kids into a routine. So if they do deviate from the routine, at least they know that round about this time, this should happen.
I think, for mental health in general, for you as a parent, and then the mental health for your kids as well, structure does wonders for them. It’s extremely good for them. So I think that’s my main tip. And just doing, just do what you can, when you can.
PvZ: I think that’s an incredible point. Some of the shortcomings of the traditional education system is that it can’t cater for all learning styles. So as a mother who spent time homeschooling your kids over the last couple of months, what has stood out to you in terms of each individual child’s learning abilities and learning styles? Do they have different learning styles?
SB: Oh, definitely! With my daughter, she doesn’t like you to talk much. So she is more the, give me the instruction and I’ll do what needs to be done. Whereas my son, he likes a little bit more guidance while he’s busy, and the reassurance while he’s busy. Mom, is what I’m doing correct? Whereas Mia’s a little bit more independent.
And it’s also very curious to me as to how the teachers, what they do in that situation, because, I mean, Liam, if you’ve got 30 children in a class and my son, needs reassurance that he’s doing the correct thing. It just makes one question as a parent, like, would you have time to direct that energy into my child, type of thing? So, yeah, that’s one thing I’ve noticed with my kids, that is different.
What Is a Successful Education?
PvZ: Given what you understand and what you know about education today, what do you think is the right path for them to follow? And I guess the bigger question to that is, how would you define a successful education?
SB: I think the tricky part is finding balance because even though I do think that a university degree doesn’t hold much weight, I still feel it’s important. So it’s important for me as a parent to ensure that Mia and Liam, they have a balanced education. That’s why technology is so important because I’ve got access to the information that I didn’t know at school, I didn’t know growing up, we can do that on the side.
So even though you’re at university, you’re doing your schoolwork. You need to, as a parent, do a little bit extra, I feel, in order for your child to do better because the education system is just not doing enough for our kids. Us as parents, we need to find alternatives to equip them and enrich them and fulfill them in a way that we know is going to benefit them for their futures.
PvZ: I think on that point, there’s been for a long time a big disconnect between parents, their children, and their education system. And specifically, children and their schools and the connection that children have with their parents on an educational or academic front. Something that Coronavirus has most likely done, is to bring the children and parents closer together. And I think, you know, parents have obviously learned things about their kids that they didn’t know before.
SB: They didn’t know.
PvZ: And in that regard, we know that in South Africa, homeschooling has become a hot topic. A Google search, Google Trends, will show you that South Africa ranks second in the world for the search term homeschooling. So a lot of South Africans are looking at homeschooling as a potential alternative to traditional education.
Given all the digital programs, online learning platforms, that are available today, how can a parent introduce these programs into the homeschooling curriculum, in such a way that the kids maintain a regular routine? At school, you’ve got that sort of structured classroom environment. At home, that structure and that discipline is lacking. Now, earlier you mentioned it’s important to develop a routine, but how do you instill that discipline in the student themselves?
SB: Look, for me specifically, my kids are too small, so they do what I say they need to do. But I mean things like putting up charts, that helps, and also encourage your child, let them know the importance of it. I feel like in anything we do, especially with Smartick, if I can use Mia as an example. When I downloaded the app, I explained to her what it is, what it does, and why it’s important.
We underestimate the knowledge of our children as young as they are, and Mia knows that she needs to do it because it’s important, because it’s for her future. It’s for her to be able to do better at school. So I feel if you would let your child know, listen, this is why you need to do it, this is why it’s important. This is how it can benefit you, that would encourage them to do it themselves without you having to micromanage them. Because I feel like if you’re going to make it a chore. Or make it a demand, and say you have to complete this program, and that program at this time and at that time, they’re not going to want to do it.
PvZ: So treat them like an adult.
SB: Yeah, treat them like an adult, that’s how I’ve been … I mean, my oldest is seven years old, but the things that come out of her mouth, you will never believe. And it’s because I’ve never spoken to them like they’re babies. I speak to them exactly as I’m speaking to you, and I explain a lot of things to them and the importance of these things.
So I think if you are considering homeschool, or you are homeschooling your children, besides having a structure, be open with them and explain to them the importance of that structure. I think that would help, instead of as I say, making it a chore, explain to them why they need to do it. Explain to them and tell them, share! As you asked about my journey, share your journey with them. I think as a young parent, it’s come very easy or natural to me to tell my children, this is what Mommy did. This is what happened, and Mommy wants you to do better. That’s how I speak to my children, so I think that would help.
Screen Time Advice
PvZ: That’s an incredible point. What do you think about screen time? And how do you think technology or devices such as tablets or computers or mobile phones, if they’ve been exposed to them, have influenced your children?
SB: Both my kids have phones. They’ve had them from a very young age. They don’t have SIM cards, though, but they’ve got devices. We manage them, we have Family Link, and this is also something that I was actually just exposed to. We downloaded Family Link, they have access to YouTube Kids. I feel like even, she’s 11 months now, my daughter, and she watches TV. I feel like educationally, they grow quicker. From my daughter to my latest now, that is something that I’ve always done; I’ve never been a parent who said ‘no’ to technology.
I am the parent to say that in moderation; they need to know when to go off it. Because that’s also a negative that I found with my son, is that he’d be playing games and he’d be so invested in his game, or in whatever he’s doing, that he’d actually get angry. And a lot of kids get emotionally attached to these devices.
So I think it’s important as a parent to manage it correctly, manage the time. Use it as a way of, if they’re doing well, I’d give them extra screen time. If they didn’t complete something that they needed to, I take away some screen time. But it’s something that they enjoy. It’s important that my daughter now, that’s 11 months old, will take the phone up, and when you say take the selfie, she takes the phone and she does this. Or she knows how to swipe the phone. And I mean, we laugh as parents, but if there’s an emergency one day, or something happens, my kid will be able to unlock my phone, find my phone number, and will be able to contact me.
So although there as much negatives, you know, there are negatives when it comes to cellular devices. And it’s scary because the digital world is scary for kids with everything happening today. As a mommy blogger, I’m putting my kids out there like, and it’s extremely scary. But I feel like if I make them aware of it as you said, and I teach them how to use it correctly, it will benefit them in the future.
How Smartick Has Helped Stacey’s Daughter
PvZ: Through the introduction of Smartick, for example, how has Mia’s home education journey evolved, and how’s it helped her?
SB: As I said, most times I was busy to do anything with Mia, and that’s where the mom guilt set in. I felt like, not only has the lockdown taken from my child’s education, but I’m taking from her education as well because it’s such a huge responsibility being put on my shoulders.
And I feel like because there’s Smartick, 15 minutes a day, I at least know that my child’s brain is being stimulated. She’s doing something. She’s accomplished something. I get the emails to say how she’s done, if it was amazing, if it was this, or if it was that. I show those to her, it encourages her.
And that’s what it’s helped me with, the fact that if I am busy, or I know that I can’t get to your conventional homeschooling routine. At least I know that my child is being stimulated by a program that is designed specifically for her. And I think that is something also I love about Smartick, is that it monitors how she’s doing and it adjusts to her. And then lets her know, okay, you’re doing this, you doing that, her scores. And then I can go back, and I’ll tell her, okay, this, this, that and the other. So I think that’s what’s helped me is that at least I know that if I can do anything, there’re programs out there like Smartick that will be able to help her.
PvZ: One of the things that technology allows us to do, is to create the sort of global curriculum agnostic program that anybody can access from anywhere in the world. The education that somebody in the United States receives, or in a country like Singapore where they have some of the highest maths results in the world, is now accessible to kids all around the world.
Looking at Smartick, for example, although it’s a curriculum agnostic maths program, meaning that it doesn’t specifically abide by South Africa’s local curriculum. It uses the best influences from Japanese maths, Singapore Bar maths, Dutch Abacus maths, to create this global maths curriculum. Which again, gives access to children all around the world, no matter which country you come from, no matter what background you come from, access to the same level of education, which is most likely going to continue to improve over the next decade. And similarly, I think it removes all the boundaries that we previously faced.
What Stacey Loves About Smartick
SB: What I loved about the Smartick app was the little avatars and the fact that I could make one that looked exactly like my daughter. That is important to me, diversity and inclusivity. It’s all over my blog, and it’s important to me because I come from a mixed family. My husband is Tswana. So to get an app that has features with a little girl with an afro, that was important to me as a mother. Because it wasn’t just about the fact that now Mia could do maths, but now Mia could do maths with an avatar that looked just like her. So I think that’s what I appreciated with you guys as well, for taking the time to do small details like that, matter to a parent.
PvZ: What do you believe about the education system that most people disagree with?
SB: I respect everybody’s decision in their parenting. What I feel might not be best for my kids, I respect if you feel it’s best for your kids. I also don’t have a problem if you homeschool your child and mine is going to school. It’s just the fact that I know my kids better and I know that the homeschooling option wouldn’t benefit them because they like to be outdoors. They like to be with other kids.
So in that sense, I just feel like everyone should do what they think is best for their kids. And whether your kids are wearing school uniforms or not, as long as they’re learning, that’s the important part. But I also don’t mind if they have to wear a school uniform because it also teaches you a couple of things as well. So, yeah, I’m on the fence with that question, I’m sorry!
A Parent’s Role in Their Children’s Skill Creation
PvZ: No, that’s fine, I think just to wrap up, bringing this thing full circle and back to your personal education journey. You mentioned some of the skills that you may not have picked up at school that helped you in your career. These are normally the soft skills, the ability to connect with a person, the ability to read somebody on an emotional level, to read a room.
These soft skills are generally not developed at school, and also not focused on at home. These are skills that kids normally pick up in environments such as on the sports field, through a self-improvement journey. What do you think you can do as a parent to help develop those essential soft skills that are critical in somebody’s career progression?
SB: For me, speak to your children, that’s the first point. It’s difficult if you’re at home to put them in these situations, where they’ll be able to practice. But I like to do … as I said, my kids are really young, so there is a lot of apps. There are also physical things you can do with little cards. There’s a shop called Black Roots that sells cards that says, how do you feel? And discussing those emotions with your child through activities and through play.
That’s also another way that you could, as I said, it’s still difficult because, it’s easy to teach somebody, but to put it into practice, you need to be, out there and experience it and know how to react to it. But to equip my kids, that’s what I do. I just take a little bit extra time, I speak to them a lot, online research, use those cards through activities, through play. That’s how I would kind of develop their social skills.
I’m lucky that I’ve got my kids so close together. So a lot of the things and conflicts, I’m able to address that at home. When they do argue, something like that, if they have an argument, I can tell them how to react to that argument, what you should have done, what you could have done that would have helped them. But for a parent that only has one kid, it’s a little bit difficult to teach them.
PvZ: Stacey, you’re an inspiration, thank you for taking the time to meet with us today.
SB: Thank you so much for having me.
PvZ: I look forward to the next time we talk.
Outro: 15 minutes a day is all your child needs to master math and improve his or her mental agility, concentration, study habits, and reading comprehension. Smartick is an online method for children ages 4 – 14 to learn mathematics. It is personalized and adapts completely to the level and pace of each child. After a simple registration process, children can access their daily session from a computer or tablet and work independently and at their own pace for the 15 minutes necessary to maintain maximum concentration level, receiving immediate feedback after each exercise.
Smartick is much more than mental calculation. It also works on geometry, logic, and word problems. There are interactive tutorials along the way that help answer questions and explain key concepts in an interactive way. During the session, children receive rewards for their effort and achievement. These allow them to later access the Virtual World which is filled with scientifically designed educational games. Upon finishing the session, Smartick sends you an email with that day’s results. You can review the entire session and see which exercises your child answered incorrectly. Parents have private access to their child’s history with detailed graphs about their learning progress and general performance. If you have any questions, you can contact our Pedagogical Support Team.
94% of children improve their mental calculation, logic, and problem-solving skills. Go to smartick.com and try it for free.
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