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Teachers working with parents to help build strong language foundations for their children

We are nearing the end of a very fulfilling rollout of the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme in the Western Cape this year. Just under 800 determined parents from 50 schools/organisations have successfully completed an 8-week course facilitated by dedicated teachers from their children’s schools. (See our facebook page for more graduation pictures). The focus of the course was on how parents/caregivers can support their children’s informal learning at home.


Read about what some parents have to say:

Not only does my child enjoy learning and doing homework, but the whole family gets involved!

Homework is no longer a fight session, but a time to learn for myself and for my child.

The later classes were exciting– the reading, conversations,  the how, what and why… My daughter talks so much more now. She shows much more interest in reading. Also the class gave me more confidence, more patience. It starts at the crèche, where my son is. I am going to share with them what we do.

My child in Grade 3 was struggling with reading, and now that I know how to break up the words, and be very visual, it is getting a bit better. Now I have a clearer understanding of what to work on. Also about managing my time, and having patience.

Some teachers’ comments:

Three things hit home for our parents. They began to understand that learning begins at home. One of the fathers said the following: I’ve learnt a lot, thinking that learning begins at school, now I know it begins at home’. 

When we engage with parents, we become one of them. It’s my community, I am part of the group.  We are giving back. My husband tells me I am lit up. It works for me, it works for the community, it works for the child.  It’s not work – it’s something that we want to do.

This year 15 parents came and 15 graduated – mostly grandmothers,   even though they had to walk through very violent areas.   We work together in our FP and everyone assists. We didn’t see it as another job.  We want to empower our parents to empower our learners. We have a choice about whether we will go back to Lavender Hill or not, but our children don’t have a choice. Thank-you for giving us something extra. Parents see that …they have a voice.

We applaud both the dedicated parents (and caregivers), and the teachers who worked together after school hours and sometimes on weekends to help build strong language foundations in the early years.

Read more about the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme .

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Ready Steady Read Write (RSRW) trains Co-ordinators in the Eastern Cape


New Wordworks’ partner organisation, Bitou 10 (Plettenberg Bay), joined The Lebone Centre (Grahamstown), Sophakama Community Partnership (Pearston) and Masinyusane Development Organisation (PE) at our training workshop in August. Read more about these WordNetworks partners below:


Bitou 10 Foundation

The Bitou 10 Education and Development Foundation works with the 10 government schools and 30 Early Childhood Development (ECD) sites in the Bitou municipal district near Plettenberg Bay. They provide a variety of services to these schools including literacy and mathematics; art, music and drama; occupational and remedial therapy and E-learning support.

The Lebone Centre

The Lebone Centre in Grahamstown aims to work in partnership with the relevant communities to address the effects of poverty and help children to maximize their potential. In addition to running a pre-school and an aftercare facility at the Centre, Project Read is one of their literacy projects.This programme is run at 4 schools surrounding the Lebone Centre, targeting Foundation Phase children from Grade R to Grade 3.

Sophakama Community Partnership

Sophakama (which means “We will rise”) is the community partnership programme of the Plains of Camdeboo Private Nature Reserve in the Karoo. It has two primary portfolio areas: Early Childhood Development and Environmental Education. One of their projects is an early literacy programme which is run in two primary schools in Pearston by volunteers who work with the children every week

Masinyusane Development Organisation

Masinyusane (which means “Let us raise each other up”) is an education non-profit working with children and families in the townships of Port Elizabeth. The organisation hires and trains unemployed youth to implement their initiatives. They also strive to send as many of these young people to college or university.

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139 HSPP Teachers submit their portfolios to Wordworks

The Wordworks office was virtually overflowing with Home School Partnership Programme portfolios in the first week of August! These rich and detailed portfolios are evidence of teachers having run their 8-week programmes with parents in their communities.

139 HSPP facilitators from 38 schools submitted their portfolios. Furthermore, 39 of these facilitators took up the offer to submit individual portfolios which met the requirements for the HSPP short course through UCT. All portfolios will be marked by a specially appointed evaluator and those registered with UCT will be marked and then checked by an external moderator. Successful candidates will receive their certificates in November.

We applaud these teachers for their dedication! We thank them for the wonderful work they do with parents and also for contributing to Wordworks’ growing knowledge base through their insightful reporting.

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Mandela Day at Wordworks

To honour a day (and a person) meant to encourage individuals to make a difference, we spent a wonderful 67 minutes and much more on 18 July being creative with families and friends.

Thank you to all who joined the Wordworks team in making resources from recycled materials. Older ones shared their knowledge and skills, and little ones proudly showed off their new skills and products!

Four ‘production stations’ offered participants options to make knitted balls, games for matching colours and shapes, discovery bottles, and baby board books, amongst others.

Everybody participated – from toddlers to oldies! See our facebook album to see some pictures from the day.

The toys and games will be used for training kits to be distributed to our Every Word Counts Programme partners.

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Every Word Counts Training: NGOs build knowledge and reflect on progress

20 participants from eight NGOs working in the Western and Eastern Cape are attending monthly EWC training sessions for the remainder of 2017 and early 2018, at the lovely Novalis Ubuntu Institute in Wynberg. These NGOs are sharing EWC with home visitors, in parent groups and with ECD practitioners.

In the past we offered 3-day block training in EWC, but wanted to try a different model of training where partners have the opportunity over a year to build their knowledge and reflect on project progress, and share with and learn from other organisations.

So far we have focused on how the main caregivers of babies and young children can support learning through talking, playing and singing. Some of the highlights participants mention are getting new insight into how to build language through exploring the senses and talking about feelings, asking and answering questions, and learning through play.

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New partners for Ready Steady Read Write

Four schools and four organisations recently joined Wordworks as Ready Steady Read Write partners and attended the Co-ordinator’s Training Workshop in May 2017.

    1. ACVV Bright Lights is a drop-in centre based in Somerset West that provides basic emotional, physical and social development services to 30 boys between the ages of eight and 18.
    2. Training and Development Foundation operates on a farm in Kuilsriver. The current programme is run after school hours but they wish to start an educational program in the morning with children under the age of 6 who live on the farm.
    3. Izakhono Youth Organisation is a community based organisation in Nyanga, offering a positive lifestyle to young people. They work with parents and young children and believe that through education they can make a difference.
    4. African Legend is a registered non-profit organisation that hopes to improve South Africa’s socio-economic situation by offering educational and skills development programs for children mainly in the Delft and Du Noon communities.
    5. Jamaica Way Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain wanted to start a programme where parents from the community volunteer their time to assist Foundation Phase learners with their reading and writing skills during the school morning.
    6. Kleinberg Primary School in Ocean View is currently running a Shine literacy programme for Grade Twos and wanted to work with Afrikaans children in Grade One to improve their reading and writing skills.
    7.  Yeshua Christian Primary School in Heathfield heard about various Wordworks early literacy programmes and chose to start up the Ready Steady Read Write programme to assist their Grade R and Grade One children with reading and writing skills.
    8.  Intshayelelo Primary School in Nyanga recently ran a very successful Home School Partnership programme with the parents and they now wish to introduce the Ready Steady Read Write programme to assist Grade 2 and 3 children with English literacy.

We welcome them to our network and are very excited about working with them in the future!

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Learning and support visits to EWC partners in KZN and EC

Earlier this year, the Every Word Counts (EWC) team visited our partners in KZN and the Eastern Cape who are using this programme with families and in ECD centres.  We went on home visits, attended training workshops with ECD practitioners, and assisted partners to plan their training, being guided by what support partners wanted from us. We visited 9 organisations in KZN and 9 in the Eastern Cape.






We also conducted EWC refresher workshops, attended by 17 participants in the Eastern Cape and 19 in KZN.

It was wonderful to build relationships, see how our partners are using EWC in unique ways, and to help deepen their understanding of the importance of building language and starting early!

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Home-School Partnerships Programme participants reflect and refresh

HSP cluster sessions were held recently for HSP Teacher-Facilitators to reflect, refresh their knowledge of some of the training activities, and look ahead to the rest of the year. We ran three two and a half hour sessions in May with over 50 metro schools and more than 200 facilitators. Participants welcomed Wordworks input on sections of the programme that required further discussion, and keenly shared experiences of the courses they ran with parents. Here are some scenes from these clusters showing participants and the Wordworks team in action.

Some shared experiences from programme participants

Have you as teachers noticed any changes in the children whose parents did the programme this year?

‘Yes, they are more confident. There is this bond… my mom knows my teacher very well…’

‘Children have routine [at home]. More lively in class. Children more confident. Learners understand terminology and vocabulary better.’

Since facilitating the HSPP, has anything changed in your classroom practices or in how you relate to the parents at your school?

Teachers feel that they can now communicate more freely with parents and that they have felt more appreciated by the parents. Parents now seem to be more open to receive guidance and suggestions from teachers regarding their children.

Parent feedback on the programme

‘When I joined the class, I didn’t know what to expect. Thought it would be things I know by heart. As a crèche teacher it was a great experience. Took me out of my comfort zone. It was nice to see the passion in some teachers. It made me feel like a child again. I believe that parents and crèche teachers can benefit from taking courses like this. I love the games. I like the interaction that parents had with teachers. Teachers were well prepared. They asked questions. They listened. It wasn’t boring. I would definitely attend courses like this if presented again.’

 ‘I now realise that making interactive time with my child is important in turn this is helping me with self development. I too have a challenge myself as a parent when it comes to writing. Now the programme is going to help me while assisting my child. This has been an eye opener, about how to be a parent that is involved into our children’s life.’

‘The programme has helped me with my 17 year old too. Now we both have time for the little one. There is now routine at home and peace.’

Please see our facebook page for more pictures of these workshops.

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Ready Steady Read Write tutors meet in 9 Cluster Meetings across the Peninsula

Wordworks mentors have met with about 230 Ready Steady Read Write tutors who attended one of 9 cluster meetings in May and June. These meetings were arranged to inspire and inform the tutors and also to maintain a link between the Ready Steady Read Write sites and Wordworks.

At each session, after having fun with an ice-breaker, tutors shared with each other their successes and challenges of the programme. We also used this opportunity to revise the process of assessing children which is done three times a year.

We ended with a fun crossword to consolidate the content of the meeting.



Each tutor received a personal book gift and alphabet charts for the children they work with. Our facebook page has more photos from these cluster meetings.

Tutors shared some of their insights and experiences with us:

I would encourage others to become tutors because:

It gives me a great feeling to help children that just need a little bit of a push. And to uplift yourself!

There is a nice experience to know what children think when they are taught. Also the skill of becoming the good example to them. Someone who inspires them to go further with their studies.

‘N mens voel menswaarding en siels tevrede as jy a kind kan leer lees and skryf, en sodoende iemand se menswees kan verbeter

Since becoming a tutor I have learned:

That giving back to the community is very important. If you can be able to help those in need, it means that you know how to share Ubuntu without expecting something back.

That learners really need our help. It is difficult for them to cope in the classroom because they do not get one-on-one support.

I decided to become a tutor because:

I needed to feel useful in the community. My granddaughter had a problem with reading and I was unable to help her. I realised how frustrated she was and felt helpless.

I have a passion for working with a child it has always been my dream to become a teacher. I started my studies at the College of Cape Town … but could not complete because of financial difficulties, but by becoming a tutor I can still do what I love.

In addition to the tutoring I do at school, I also use my tutor kit to:

(Tutor) my nephew, my niece my stepson. It really helps a lot. I can even play the games in my Reading Club.

Becoming a tutor has given me the opportunity to:

Challenge myself, and I am thinking of studying further going to study teaching. Help those (children) that are struggling.

Be more open-minded, and have tried to further my studies

In my work as a tutor, the thing I have found the most difficult is:

Skipping a day, not going to work. It just feels so unreal to spend a day without seeing those kids.

Having to work at a different pace with different children. Having to keep the children’s attention is something that was very new to me but I overcame it.

We celebrate these women and men in our communities making a difference
in children’s lives!

Here is a list of schools in the Western Cape that run either the Wordworks Ready Steady Read Write or Home-School Partnerships Programmes, or both.

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Our Home-School Partnerships parents are graduating!

Moms, dads, grandparents and other caregivers have received certificates after attending our 8-week Home-School Partnerships (HSP) Programme. Well done to these caregivers, and to the dedicated teachers who met with them after school or on Saturdays to empower and inspire parents and caregivers of children aged 4 to 9 years to support informal learning at home.


In February and March this year, Teacher-Facilitator training for the HSP Programme was attended by 150 new Facilitators, from schools across the Peninsula and further afield. Training sessions encompassed a detailed engagement with new materials, and training on how to present the 8 parent sessions. Sessions were conducted in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. Some of the participants are shown below with HSP materials:



Some feedback from programme participants

Feedback from these sessions shows parents eager to contribute to their children’s learning, better communication between parents and teachers, and more responsive children in classes.

Parents talking about how the programme has helped them:

‘I now realise that making interactive time with my child is important in turn this is helping me with self-development. I too have a challenge myself as a parent when it comes to writing. Now the programme is going to help me while assisting my child. This has been an eye opener, about how to be a parent that is involved into our children’s life.’

‘The programme has helped me with my 17 year old too. Now we both have time for the little one. There is now routine at home and peace.’

“The programme has made me to be open minded, I always thought the teacher has done enough, now I know that the child who is assisted at home becomes a champion at school. My child has shown that.”

HSP Teacher-Facilitators noting changes in the children whose parents did the programme:

 “Children are more confident and their motor skills have improved. Learners that did not want to speak are speaking now.”

“Children’s reading has improved (fluency, word recognition and comprehension). Children’s participation in group and class discussions has improved. They now share opinions and ideas more freely because their confidence and self-esteem is growing.”

“The learners are more excited to do activities in class… They like to read and write their own stories.”

“The learners are going to the library and are more interested in reading.”

“The learners are more eager to do their homework and it is completed more regularly.”

Log onto our facebook page ( to see photographs of graduations from 22 primary schools. Look out for more photographs of graduations as more parents complete the HSP course at primary schools across the Peninsula and further afield.