Hillcrest Collegiate was founded when teacher Janice Breetzke could not find the right school for her daughter, who was struggling in a mainstream school. Janice’s daughter was struggling academically – being in a mainstream school had crippled her self-esteem and affected her academic performance. Janice decided to homeschool her and focus on building her self-esteem again. As her daughter’s self-esteem grew, Janice was amazed at the improvement in her academic results. This inspired Janice to start the school and Hillcrest Collegiate quickly became known within the community for being a bridge between a mainstream school and a small school. She wanted to build a school that helps children thrive emotionally so that they can succeed academically. A place where the staff are dedicated to understanding the unique needs and strengths of every child and nurturing their self-esteem.


Hillcrest Collegiate’s strategy for building a child’s self-esteem in Foundation Phase:

1. Create a positive learning environment for your child:

  • Promoting self-acceptance by accepting and embracing learner differences
  • Meeting learning challenges with our children through individual attention
  • Giving positive feedback using a supportive and encouraging tone
  • Celebrating achievements as well as academic and emotional progress


2. Encourage Personal Growth:

  • Teaching a growth mindset
  • Character education by teaching self-compassion, understanding and empathy.
  • Holistic development through self-care education


3. Build Strong Relationships

  • Fostering relationships between teachers, community, and parents to work together to build the child’s self-esteem.
  • Educating the children on how to build healthy peer relationships, free from judgment and bullying.
  • Social interaction in a non-compétitive environment.


Positive Learning Environment

Hillcrest Collegiate Foundation Phase focuses on academic growth within a positive learning environment. The success of a child’s academic journey is dependent on the quality of the environment. If the environment does not help the child develop the emotional and life skills that they need, they will not feel confident about learning and their academic results will suffer.

This year, the staff at Hillcrest Junior College recommitted to their goal of building the self-esteem of our 2024 Primary School Admissions. Our teachers play a crucial role in evaluating the grade 1 admissions and determining each child’s unique strengths, challenges, and talents. With this in mind our educators create a positive learning atmosphere by working with each child individually and providing constructive feedback in a supportive tone. By accepting a child’s individual needs, the teacher gives the child the understanding that they are capable of learning and growth. This is encouraged by acknowledging individual achievements and celebrating progress.


Encourage Personal Growth

Encouraging a growth mindset at school and at home helps children build resilience and confidence. At Hillcrest Collegiate we treat mistakes and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. We also ensure that our children learn to practice compassion, understanding and empathy with themselves and others. The school has a holistic growth ethos and teaches the children self-care through emotional/physical well-being and growth mindset tools that they can follow with ease.  The school has found that implementing these principles with consistency and daily reinforcement is a winning strategy to building a child’s self-esteem.


Build Strong Relationships

Children who have positive relationships with community, peers and adults in their environment have higher self-esteem. The teachers in Hillcrest Collegiate Foundation Phase help children learn to navigate social situations effectively and this leads to a positive reinforcement loop that encourages healthy self-esteem. These skills are invaluable as they progress through their educational journey and into adulthood and are especially important in the Foundation Phase when building your child’s self-esteem can set them on a pathway to future academic success.

The school has found that parents are integral partners in this journey to nurturing self-esteem and success and we encourage parents to implement the same tools we use at school to encourage our children. We also encourage community involvement, and this often leads to emotionally fulfilling relationship shifts for the parent and child as the guilt, shame and stress of dealing with challenges fall away. 

Hillcrest Collegiate has a strict no-bully policy and the school focuses on building positive peer relationships. The focus is on creating an environment where each child feels safe. This allows peer relationships in the school to flourish. Healthy childhood friendships are a building block to good self-esteem.

The results of our strategy

Research has indicated that learners who overcome their learning challenges attribute their success to a supportive and encouraging environment while those who still struggle in adulthood did not have a nurturing environment. Shame and insecurity can easily take over a neurodivergent child’s life as they struggle to fit into the ‘normal box’ and feel like they belong. Compassion, understanding, encouragement and acceptance is the greatest gift that a child can receive in their formative years, and this is crucial for the holistic development of children. 

Management at the school have found that by giving this to our learners who attend the school from Grade R – grade 12, our children get a good head start. Our school alumni have grown into young men and women who believe in their abilities and are enthusiastic about personal and academic growth. These are the same children who we actively encouraged to engage in the learning process through a positive learning environment and social/extracurricular activities in a non-comparative safe environment. Staff are so proud of them and are looking forward to working with our 2024 primary school admissions.


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