I think that Wordworks is really an amazing organisation. I heard about the organisation on a workshop I did with the Education Department and did some research on the internet. What I read was just in line with some of my goals I had for our centre. I was very interested in the Home-School Partnership Programme, as I wanted to bridge the gap between the children’s home and school. I wanted to build a relationship with the parents and make them feel part of our centre and their children’s education. The eight week programme is an excellent tool to build such relationships.
Currently all my teachers and our administrator are trained to run the programme and they see the value is adds to the foundation we are building for the children. If parents are involved it makes teaching easier and more effective. Seeing the team work of the Wordworks team has made our team stronger.
We have become a mean team. All of us are able to facilitate any part of the programme and we fill in for each other by adding our own life experiences. The programme has humbled me. We take many things for granted in life and in the programme I saw that coming back to basics is really what our children need more. They need our time, attention and love. This is simply illustrated by the simple everyday life learning methods the programme teaches us. (We know it well but have pushed it on the back burner). Making time to talk to our children, doing little things with them and spending quality time with them is very important.
I can also see the positive impact the programme has on our children. This is far more precious and it is something money can’t buy. To the parents it is a great tool as many of our parents are not very educated and they feel that they cannot assist their children at home (some even feel that it is only the teacher’s duty to teach their children). This stigma is changed during the programme and parents are more equipped and comfortable to assist their children. This is how the parents become interested in their child’s education and it also helps us to build very good relationships with the parents.
After retiring from teaching, I wanted to continue to do something in education. Wordworks offered this opportunity. This was ideal because learners needed help with reading and writing. Teachers are unable to give individual attention to struggling learners because of big classes.
I am motivated when I see the eagerness and enthusiasm of the learners who have fun while learning. It is also very rewarding to see how they progress – even if it is a slow process.
- There is a great need for assistance with reading and writing; no matter how weak a learner seems to be, the learner can be helped; learners learn while having fun – they love stories and playing games; their other talents of vivid imagination and artistic ability are also expressed in these sessions.
I was so curious about how I could help children more with their reading and writing. This is what inspired me to do the HSP Parent Programme. During that training, Brigid Comrie of Wordworks told me that Wordworks doesn’t end when the 8-week Parent Programme ends!
What motivated me was the challenges ahead of me. I wanted to help our children who struggle to read and write. Some parents of our children don’t have time to sit down with at home – and that is where I can help.
I always told the youth in our community: “Never give up on the things God put on your path – no matter how difficult it gets at times!”
I have learned… to have more patience with my kids and the children that struggle with reading and writing … to always give positive praises to build confidence. Everything in the world around us is like a Reader. Let children have fun while learning! Stop being like a police officer checking the children’s learning. I also learned just to be myself and to think out of the box.
We work with pre- school children. We introduce English as a second language and also stimulate those who need it in their mother tongue. I never received any formal training for this so I needed to get information on the theory behind the importance of early childhood literacy and also get some guidance on how to teach young children, so I got involved in this programme.
We also work with volunteers who are not trained and we can now equip them on how to work with children.
Seeing the domino effect from the workshops that we have run already where some parents and caregivers have gone and run their own workshops in their areas motivates me to stay involved. Also the feedback we received letting us know how valuable the workshops were and the information they received from them.
I have learned:
- The importance of starting early with literacy and maths, that a child is never too young to be stimulated.
- Ideas and games for stimulating kids in a fun way.
- How to run workshops successfully.
It inspires me to see that every child has the right to be able to read and write. If children are struggling, I am the person to help them and tutor them.
I can’t wait for my sessions – to see the eagerness on each child’s face when I fetch them for Ready Steady sessions.
Each child progresses in a different way. I interact with each child in a way that makes them feel that they are special. I have learnt to be calmer with my own kids at home too, although I do still scold them now and then…
What inspired you to get involved in the programme?
Initially it was an intervention measure in aid of helping the learners with learning barriers and empowering myself with new information to assist learners using different strategies. After the first session of facilitation training my inspiration then became the parents, as this was a great need in our community in which parents are unable to assist their children at home. It was the perfect solution to all our problems: teachers having lack of parental support at home, and parents having the lack of knowledge to assist their child. As the saying goes, it is “killing two birds with one stone”.
What motivated you to stay involved?
Definitely the parent and the progress within the learners. The Home-school Partnership Programme is a very inspirational programme that instils a number of skills within an individual and develops individuals holistically. It establishes better relationships between parents and children, teacher and parents and children and teachers. In addition to the development of skills it also establishes the motivation to study further. We had a grandparent who then decided to complete her Early Childhood Development training as it was always her dream to become a teacher. In majority of the cases the certificate issued at the end of the eight sessions was the only certificate these parents achieved and the sense of pride that came herewith was phenomenal and inspiring to me as a facilitator. All the above mentioned, indicated positive results and I thought if all this could be done after one successful programme, how many more parents could be reached in such a positive manner? After a number of years of successfully running this programme our numbers of attendance have grown miraculously demonstrating that there is even more work to be done within our community.
What are the top things you have learned while being involved in the programme?
Firstly, that good ideas can come from anyone (Each one-teach one). There were so many great ideas that came from these sessions that I am currently implementing within my classroom, intervention classes as well advice given to parents who seek support in assisting their child at home. Secondly, it’s never too late to dream and set realistic goals. As we had a grandparent who then decided to complete her Early Childhood Development training as it was always her dream to become a teacher. Thirdly, the most influential learning takes place when individuals feel comfortable and at ease with whom they are communicating with. Parents have thanked the facilitators for making them feel comfortable and at ease with giving feedback and sharing their experiences to the groups. This was evident in the vibrant sessions we had when individuals could not wait to give their feedback. In addition, I have also learnt the best information and guidance comes from day to day experiences.
The Inkwenkwezi Society aims to implement change through the use of preventative resources provided by national NGOs – such as Wordworks and Shine, to enhance the individual strengths of pupils as well as promote their mental well-being and resilience in schools around Grahamstown…at the end of a child’s programme, there is a notable difference in their self-esteem in that the students are more capable and confident in reading, writing and speaking in English. In addition, the programme has had a positive impact on each child’s sense of self-worth as they feel they have role to play in the classroom and want to be there.
180 teacher-facilitators and the Wordworks team met at 6 affirming and inspiring cluster sessions during July and August. The purpose was to reflect on their parent sessions as well as to refresh new and current activities to support their parents with informal learning in their homes.
The teachers reflected on the positive impact the HSP had on their parents. Many parents informed them that the support not only helped their children improve in the classroom, but also nurtured a closer bond between child and parent/s. Teachers also reported that they have developed a better relationship with the parents who attended and that these parents are now more hands-on with their children’s learning.
The teachers themselves find that they have benefited from the skills acquired through the programme and have implemented these in their own classrooms as well. Some have taken on new opportunities and responsibilities at their schools since being involved in the HSP Programme.
See our Facebook picture album here: Thank you all for your great participation in these sessions.
There are so many women who have contributed to early literacy through our programmes with great dedication and passion! We are not able to introduce all of them, but we know that those who will be featured this month will inspire you.
I heard about Wordworks some years ago via a colleague that had attended a conference and heard the Director, Shelley O’Carroll, speak. I was working as the director of an ECD NGO at the time, and was delighted to find that there was an organisation that paid such specific attention to developing programmes aimed at the literacy development of young children. The fact that the materials are usually available in different languages, that they are easy to access and utilise, and that good training support is offered, just makes it that much better. The kind and sharing spirit of the staff is a bonus!
I remain involved with implementing a wide range of the Wordworks programmes because the materials and the approaches are so well thought-out and just hit the mark with specific target groups, whether it be babies and toddlers, Grade Rs or Foundation Phase learners. And the relationship I have built up with Wordworks has been a good one, in spite of being located in a different province.
I have learned:
- That early means early
- That it’s important to take time over embedding new knowledge and new ways of doing things (with parents, teachers, etc) and to pay attention to detail
- That letter-sound knowledge is hugely important!
- That a balanced approach to literacy development is important