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Top matric performers strike a good work-life balance

It is fascinating to read stories about South Africa’s top matriculants –  what is even more fascinating is the fact that their recipe for success is very often very different from the advice proffered by many  parents.

Having worked with young people, for many years, including a decade in teaching, I firmly believe Grade 12 learners are often put under far too much pressure – matric is not the be all and end all of everything.

Learners are often told to place their life on hold and to focus solely on their studies in the matric year – this is poor advice. At worst, it can lead to performance anxiety it can also result in individuals achieving a very poor work-life balance throughout their life.

Learning needs to be fun – this is critical to ensure that young people embrace the concept of lifelong learning. Studying should never become a gruelling marathon – it should be fun, empowering and inspire curiosity and a desire to know even more. Fun, relaxation, building positive memories are critical for managing stress and ensuring high-levels of personal motivation.

There is no escaping the fact that hard work is a prerequisite for achievement – learners need to study and prepare thoroughly for the matric examination.  The challenge, however is to ensure that they strike a good balance between their studies and life in general.

Reading through a number of interviews with South Africa’s top 2016 matric candidates, including top achiever countrywide, Hannah Jane Clayton, from Rustenburg Girls High, I was struck by the fact that the top achievers maintained a good work-life balance throughout their matric year. They ensured that there was an “off button,” and that their schedules included time spent doing the things that they enjoy doing.

Hannah did not only focus on her studies, but she ensured that she struck a good balance with her love for music and the arts. She headed the music society, participated in the school orchestra and was active in the pupil representative society.

Similarly, Tyron Ruthel from King Edwards VII (eight distinctions) went to the gym often, played sport, read fantasy novels and “lazed around the house” over weekends. Twin brothers, Jonah (seven distinctions) and Benjamin (three distinctions) Austen from King Edward VII school spent time in the outdoors, went hiking, played sport and played video games.

The holiday season is drawing to a close and many parents will be back at work next week. Will you lead by example and ensure that your school-going children, including Grade 12 learners, achieve a good work-life balance in the year ahead? Will you lead by example?

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