Posted on

A week in the life of Wordworks

The last week in October was an energising, enriching and fulfilling week with partners who are engaging with our programmes.

Home-School Partnerships (HSP) parent graduation at Hillwood Primary School: 

Stellar training in isiXhosa with the Primary Science Programme (PSP) for new Grade R Teachers:


Ready Steady Read Write Cluster meeting with tutors from partner organisations and schools on the West Coast:

Every Word Counts workshop with 16 participants from 8 NGOs in Cape Town:

Ready Steady Read Write workshop with Intshayelelo Primary School parents that have done the HSP course:


CareUp App follow-up workshop for over 100 parents in Paarl:

CareUp mobile parenting App workshop in Wellington with 60 parents:

We salute all  these early literacy champions who work with their families at home, and with young children in schools and in organisations. Together we are changing lives through literacy!

Posted on

Prof Jane Oakhill talks to Wordworks

The Wordworks team was privileged to spend some time with Jane Oakhill, Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex, and Prof Carsten Elbro, an expert on dyslexia from the University of Copenhagen. Jane was one of the keynote speakers at the recent 2017 LITASA conference where she presented on ways to support children who struggle with text comprehension.


We loved Jane’s comment that we don’t need to wait until children can read before we start building comprehension – we can start with talking!

We also loved the idea of asking children what they know about the meaning of a word – this is the way we build webs of understanding about words and deep vocabulary knowledge.

Posted on

Early Literacy Assessment Workshop for Grade One

Thank you to the Co-ordinators who worked hard to assess the Ready Steady Read Write Programme Grade One learners at the beginning and middle of this year.

At this workshop, we were excited to share with them reports that we compiled for each school indicating progress their learners made with reading and writing in the first half of the year. We also had fun workshopping new ideas for aspects of the lessons that could be strengthened.

We are finding that the assessment and reports are helping to track the progress of Grade One children throughout the year.

The Early Literacy Assessment kit is available from Wordworks’website here.

Posted on

NGOs work together to print children’s books at affordable prices

Much has been said about the great need to make quality local books available and affordable, especially for young children. During literacy month in September, we are celebrating a collaborative initiative that is making it possible for many more children to have beautiful books in their own language.  

Through an initiative between NGOs and publishers, 16 organisations have been able to purchase 12 402 children’s books in six languages for an average of R21 per title! This project was initiated by Biblionef, Wordworks, Smartstart, Blue Door ECE and Nal’ibali, who selected titles, sent out a call for interest to NGO’s and worked with publishers to co-ordinate bulk printing orders. The total cost of books at trade prices would have been R 870 000. With this bulk purchase we paid R 443 000.

 This project is a great example of organisations working together with publishers to make quality books more affordable, and to ensure that children are able to read and enjoy books in their own languages. Half of the titles that were printed in the collaborative print run were in African languages, and Carol Broomhall of JACANA explains that “the bulk order allowed us to print across a range of languages and the numbers were crucial in terms of being able to push the print button. It is impossible to print small quantities of different titles in a range of languages at an affordable price”.

 At Wordworks, we will be distributing books to schools and partners who use our programmes.  We know that each one of these books will find their way into the hands of children whose teachers, parents and caregivers are already doing so much to promote literacy in their homes, classrooms and communities.

 We would like to thank those whose contributions to our Storybook Fund made it possible for Wordworks to buy books.

Posted on

The Wordworks Stellar programme is alive and well in the Eastern Cape!

In September, we met in East London with our partners, Institute of Training and Education for capacity building (ITEC), Khululeka, Early Inspiration, and K2A. In a detailed feedback session we discussed their experiences of training and supporting Grade R teachers using Stellar.

The trainers shared how interest in the programme is growing, with one organisation saying that they have a waiting list of teachers who want to attend Stellar training.

Teachers say that the children love the Stellar story-based activities, and that they can see the growth in the children’s oral language and emergent literacy skills. We are delighted that all of our partners are on board to continue with the programme next year.

We were very pleased that Carien Vorster, our grant manager from USAID, was able to join our discussion after a whirlwind visit to six East London schools supported by ITEC.


Posted on

Teachers capacitated to work with parents to support their children’s learning at home

A group of dedicated teachers and social workers from schools in the West Coast Education District graduated as facilitators of the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme (HSPP) on Saturday 9th September. Although 30 people from 9 schools qualified, only 20 from 6 schools were able to attend the ceremony at Vredendal North Primary School. Also in attendance were Mr Claasen, the Western Cape Education Department Circuit 5 Team Manager, and Ms Nonnie Cloete, Subject Advisor.

These teachers and social workers attended four Wordworks training workshops before facilitating an 8-week programme with interested parents and caregivers of children at their schools. The focus of the Home-School Partnerships Programme is to show parents and caregivers how they can support their children’s learning at home in an informal and effective way. Sessions with parents were conducted after school hours and over weekends.

So far this year, 785 parents have participated in HSP programmes run at 46 schools across the Peninsula by 189 teacher-facilitators. This is the first time this programme is being run in the West Coast School District.

Wordworks applauds the teachers, social workers, parents and caregivers who together help build strong language foundations for their children in the early years. Read more about the Wordworks HSPP here.

Posted on

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 .

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.