Moments with Our #WCW Karina Strydom (Co-Founder BrainBoosters South Africa)

Today I have an opportunity to sit down and chat to Karina Stardom, Co-Founder of Brainboosters.

Formally a high school teacher, Karina Strydom’s passion for early childhood development was ignited when both her sons were born with club feet. She felt the need to compensate by concentrating on developing their minds.

Karina became passionate about sharing her programme with other parents. She started “The Reading Generation” in 1999 with three franchises that organised workshops for parents in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg and gave the same training to pre-school teachers in Soweto. Her programme based on Glenn Doman’s work and the Montessori school principles, was very successful.

In 2011, Hendrik Marais and Karina Strydom launched BrainBoosters. Their shared passion and vision for raising literacy and numeracy skills in South Africa strengthened their belief that the best way to accomplish this is by preparing children before they go to school, by helping them build an adequate vocabulary, strong number concept, knowledge of colours, shapes and a general love of books. Only parents or primary caregivers can lay that foundation, but they need the right tools and support.


Q. What drives you to get up in the morning and to pursue your dream?
A. Sadly, South Africa ranked  148/148 in the Global Competitive Index of 2014, and this inspires me to work even harder to improve numeracy and literacy in South Africa. There is nothing wrong with the children in this country, but I believe that existing educational methods need to change before we will see a positive, measurable impact at all levels of society.

Q. Do you have a “proudest moment” since starting Brainboosters? What stands out for you?
A. One of the major highlights was when I was invited by a senior advisor from Harvard to present the BrainBoosters Programme at the World Conference of Early Childhood Development in Monterrey, Mexico. A daily highlight is whenever I see the BrainBoosters Programme in action; when toddlers as young as two are able to recognise colours, shapes and numbers, it gives me immense satisfaction.

Q. What in your opinion sets people apart? What gives one person “the edge” over another?
A. I think that what sets people apart is their degree of passion and dedication. People who are great at what they do have a very clear vision of their intended end-result and have spent a lot of time mapping out specific, measurable goals to help them make their vision a reality. They are not motivated purely by money or fame, their passion and dedication transcends any outward trappings of success.

Q. What advice would you like to share with people who want to be successful at what they do?
A. Ensure you have a very clear picture of what your long-term goal is.
Take the time to work out a plan of how you will make your vision a reality.
When you have a clearly defined vision of what you want your end result to be, it is easier to weather setbacks and disappointments.

Q. Do you have specific characteristics which you believe has contributed to your own success?
A. I don’t give up easily and have a deep-seated belief that I can and will make a difference. For me those characteristics are, without a doubt, perseverance and a positive attitude.

Q. Which values do you live by?
A. I don’t live my life constantly trying to please others. I keep my  standards high and expect only the best from myself and others. I don’t bear grudges and I do my best to be an example in everything I do, both professionally and privately. I live by a strong code of ethics.

Q. How do you manage a busy lifestyle, balancing work and your private life?
A. I pay attention to my lifestyle, maintaining a healthy balance between my work and private life. I also make sure I eat healthily, visit the gym and take regular breaks.

Founders Karina-1

Q. How do you stay on top of your game?
A. I learn constantly from my life partner, Hendrik Marais, who is my inspiration and mentor. I am an avid reader of newspapers and magazines such as Financial Times, Scientific American Mind, Economist and the Harvard Business Review. I love art movies and also travel extensively.

Q. What does the future hold for Karina Strydom?
A. My main goal is that every child in South Africa starts school having learnt the basic building blocks necessary for future learning, and that the work that BrainBoosters has begun goes from strength to strength, seriously impacting literacy and numeracy in South Africa.

Q. Is there a purpose to life and what is that purpose for you?
A. For me, living a fulfilling, meaningful life is the key. I want to make a real difference wherever I go, and continually strive to make this world a better place.

Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. I look for inspiration in the simple things in life. I’m grateful for what I already have and I invest in being kind to others and making a difference.

Q. Please tell me about the legacy you would like to leave behind?
A. I’d love to leave a legacy of literacy. Imagine how powerful a literate South Africa would be!


Related Articles:

The First 1000 Days of Your Child’s Life

The BrainBoosters Recipe – Part 1 of 3

The BrainBoosters Recipe – Part 2 of 3

The BrainBoosters Recipe – Part 3 of 3

Tomorrow in Module 1: Talking to Your Child (Part 3 of 3), Lynda will briefly discuss:

Learning A Second Language and Testing Your Child

Don’t miss our BrainBoosters Competition on Friday !

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