Every Word Counts with parents in Franschhoek!
We recently visited three ECD Centres (The Kusasa Project, Little Butterflies and Inam Educare Centre) in Franschhoek that run our Every Word Counts (EWC) Programme. At these mentoring visits, we shared the Wordworks App, as well as books and dolls.
The visit to the Kusasa Project saw 23 parents actively engaging in an early literacy workshop, on a very cold evening, after work. The workshops aim to help parents support their children’s learning in an informal way at home. It was wonderful to see their children in the class the next day doing ‘show and tell’ about the activities their parents were practising in the evening session.
These ECD centres are running our EWC programme and are a part of the Bhabhathane Project, an ECD forum in Franschoek. This forum was previously called Franschhoek Schools Transformation Project, and supports schools and ECD Centres in Franschoek.
Celebrations marked the progress and achievement of learners who have attended weekly Ready Steady Read Write tutoring sessions in 2018. These children received well-deserved certificates and books at ceremonies and parties organized by their proud tutors.
The special bonds formed between these volunteer tutors and the children are evident in the preparation that went into these events. These tutors are community volunteers who pour love, attention and affirmation into the hour they spend together each week. Combined with a solid, structured programme, this is just what they need to take them back to class with skills and confidence!
We share in their excitement as the learners have grown in confidence, and are now able to read and write with greater success.
See more pictures on our Facebook page @WordworksSA
In November, we celebrated of the power of teachers, women, and leadership at the certification event of our Home-School Partnerships Programme (HSPP). Over 140 new Teacher-Facilitators were trained in 2018.
These Foundation Phase teachers are committed to bridging the gap between school and home, working with over 1200 parents to support their children’s early literacy development at home.
We were privileged to have guests from the WCED (metro districts) to help us celebrate.
Thank you to the donors who support the HSPP: Ackermans, ELMA Foundation, Davies Foundation, Fynbos Foundation, and DG Murray Trust.
Thanks also to the UCT Schools Development Unit for showing their confidence in this programme by accrediting the HSP Teacher-Facilitator training as a UCT short course.
You can view an album of pictures taken at the wonderful event on our Facebook page: @wordworksSA.
We have reached a new milestone in our Every Word Counts journey which started in 2015 with us offering training in Cape Town to 22 individuals from 12 organisations.
From Sept to Nov 2018 we hosted our first three EWC graduation ceremonies – in KwaZulu-Natal, Wild Coast (Eastern Cape) and Western Cape – where we handed out 43 certificates to trainers, practitioners and community workers from 16 organisations who have attended our training and completed at least one cycle of EWC project work with ECD practitioners, parents and/or young children.
These certificates are richly deserved for the very positive changes that we have seen taking place in children’s and families’ lives as a result of our partners’ work. It has been extremely rewarding for us to collaborate with such dedicated individuals and organisations as we all work to enrich the lives of young children in homes and other places of early learning.
See more pictures on our Facebook page- @wordworksSA
A reflect and refresh session, followed by teacher certification was held in October with Ebenhaeser Prim, Nuwerus Prim, Lutzville Prim, St Boniface Prim, Matzi-Care, Uitkyk Prim, Koekenaap Prim and Vredendal-Noord Prim. We are always so inspired by the work done by this group of schools and by their commitment and passion. We are thankful for the opportunity to touch their lives, but more so to be touched by theirs.
Mr Claassen the Circuit Manager for Circuit 5 and Nonnie Cloete the Curriculum Advisor also attended this event. Mr Claassen spoke some encouraging and inspiring words and expressed gratitude to Wordworks for reaching out to their schools. Nonnie Cloete encouraged and thanked the teachers for their commitment to the children and their progress.
The cluster refresher included time for reflection and feedback. It is important for the facilitators to reflect on their programmes during the year and then give feedback to Wordworks. The feedback is very useful for future planning and going forward as well as the facilitators learning from each other.
We were proud to share our learning about early literacy materials development in isiXhosa at the 2018 UWC Conference on Early Childhood Literacy Development. We also attended the launch of a book from last year’s conference: From Words to Ideas: The role of literacy in enhancing young children’s development.
Shelley O’Carroll and Isabella Hugow, together with Arnold Matzdorff, contributed a chapter to this book entitled ‘Assessment of Early Literacy development in under-resourced communities in South Africa’.
To order a copy of the book, email Prof Vuyokazi Nomlomo at UWC – firstname.lastname@example.org (R150 a copy).
Wordworks attended the AGM of one of our Lead Partners, the Langeberg ECD Forum in Montagu, on Thursday 16 August. The event was well attended, with 21 ECD centres from Robertson, Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Montagu being represented. Also there were Augusta Brandt and Melissa Jacobs, National and Western Province chairpersons of the South African Congress of Early Childhood Development (SACECD).
Wordworks distance mentors, Cathy and Gaynor, were happy to have the opportunity to speak about the HSPP and the impact this programme can have on parents and families. This year, trained facilitators from 8 ECD centres in the Langeberg region, are running the programme with their parents.
We were privileged to be able to visit all these sites the day before the AGM and were encouraged by the wonderful work and commitment that we witnessed on our visit, despite many challenges faced by these communities.
It gave us special pleasure to be able to hand over a Wordworks gift pack of books, puzzles and games to each of the 21 centres attending the AGM.
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.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the really exciting and intense discussion about the important issue of learning to read in African languages hosted by Education Fishtank and Funda Wande in June. The panel represented a wide range of expertise, experience and passion in the field.
Big themes included: how language and power are interlinked; the complexity and necessity of standardising languages; validating non-standard language use in homes and classrooms; encouraging bi-literacy; the need for local research that informs teaching practice; the importance of looking at literacy beyond the classroom context.
At certain points the discussion drew on linguistics and focussed in on the structure and orthography of different African languages and the implications for teaching and assessing reading development. Panellists agreed that dramatic swings in curricula over the past decades have undermined teachers’ confidence and professional agency.
There was also a strong sense that an integrated and balanced approach to the teaching of early language and literacy was needed, as opposed to the staged learning of distinct skills. A strong case was made for valuing oral storytelling, songs and rhymes in the teaching of reading and writing, and the need for more books in African languages to ensure that children have opportunities for meaningful engagement with plentiful and rich texts.
The panel was united in supporting collaboration between role players in the interests of tackling a catastrophic failure of our system to teach children to read with meaning and to express their ideas in writing.
Ready Steady Read Write (RSRW) tutors from across the Cape Metro came together during May at 7 different cluster meetings to reflect on their sites, solve problems and share ideas with each other and their Wordworks mentors.
We enjoyed the opportunity to refresh tutors’ content knowledge- how to support young children’s writing was the focus of the clusters this year.
Tutors were also excited to think about more ways they could become literacy champions in their communities.
Great fun was had as people connected and left inspired to continue the valuable work they do with young children.
See our full album on our Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/wordworksSA/
Dedicated and competent teachers and enthusiastic, determined parents make for vibrant and engaging Home-School Partnerships Programme workshops!
We have compiled a picture album of Teacher-facilitators and parents exploring ways to support their children’s informal learning at home through interactive story-telling, warm-up activities, sharing stories, homework and ideas, writing, making little books, games, and more.
Over 120 new HSP Teacher-facilitators attended training over three Saturdays earlier this year, joining 184 established Teacher-facilitators working with parents in the Metro and on the West Coast.
See our album on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wordworksSA/, and look out for more albums as the workshops progress.
Parents will attend a total of eight two-hour sessions culminating in a certification event organised by the Teacher-facilitators.
17 participants from eight NGOs working in the Western Cape have completed a series of nine monthly Every Word Counts (EWC) training sessions. They are from Capespan, Foundation for Community Work, GCU, Philani, Sikhula Sonke, Unogwaja Charitable Fund, Valley Development Projects, and Yumna First Steps.
These NGOs are sharing EWC with home visitors, in parent groups, with ECD practitioners, and using the ideas and activities with children. Our last training day was filled with highlights – experiencing the close connections we have developed as a group over the past year, sharing our learning with each other and invited guests, and receiving lots of lovely resources to encourage young children to have fun learning maths concepts.
Here Lusanda Stemele and Mercedes Artigue-Beatty from Unogwaja Charitable Fund in Langa share their highlights of the training.
These partners will continue to be connected to us as members of our WordNetworks and receive support from the team as they share EWC with new groups of parents, home visitors and ECD practitioners.
Wordworks was busy way beyond the Cape Town Metro last weekend, training and supporting HSPP facilitators in Vredendal. Schools from Lutzville, Nuwerus, Koekenaap, Nieuwoudtville, Vredendal and as far as Moreesburg were represented.
We are encouraged by the fact that seven of the nine schools that attended training last year have committed to continue working with parents in 2018, and three new schools have come on board.
We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with West Coast Education District in this exciting initiative.
The Wordworks trainers will return for Parts 2 and 3 of the Facilitator training in March and April respectively. All the schools involved will receive our high quality resources for their parents.
Special thanks to the dedicated teachers who travelled long distances to do the training!
Pictured here are some of the 2018 trainees, including two school principals, a social worker and three retired teachers.
Wordworks is running another Every Word Counts (EWC) Programme training this year in Cape Town for organisations that work with families or ECD centres. We will focus on how to support early learning and the language development of babies and young children. The training takes place monthly from 27 March to 30 October.
Interested organisations are invited to attend an EWC information session on 20 February from 10am to 1pm at Novalis Ubuntu Institute, Rosmead Avenue, Wynberg
RSVP: email@example.com or call 021-7889233 for more information.
We have experienced high levels of energy and optimism amongst the wonderful teachers returning to another year of early literacy and language support to the families of their school community. We had four fruitful planning sessions with over 200 established teacher-facilitators in January, and look forward to our training sessions with new teacher-facilitators over the next month.
The HSP team also welcomes two new Mentors, Gaynor Cozens who retired from Merrydale Primary School, and Faheema Hassiem who is a retired Learning Support teacher from Norwood and Valhalla Primary schools. Both of them ran the HSPP at their respective schools.
In addition, Lavinia Davis has joined the HSPP team for this term and Lorna Solomons is assisting in the training of new HSPP facilitators. We have greatly valued their participation at our sessions for old and new Teacher-facilitators, and look forward to a great year together.
See more pictures on our Facebook page.
Volunteer tutors celebrated for their support of young children learning to read and write
60 Co-ordinators of Wordworks’ Ready Steady Read Write (RSRW) programme gathered this week to celebrate another successful year of running this early literacy programme at schools and organisations.
These community volunteers, trained by Wordworks managed over 300 volunteer tutors at more than 50 RSRW sites across the Cape Metro and in the West Coast. This annual event is to thank these literacy champions, who give freely of their time, for their unwavering commitment to the programme.
At this heart-warming event, motivational speaker, Heidi Volkwyn and singer, Phillip Cornelius, reminded the tutors that they are true heroes to the learners whose lives they are changing for the better, thanks to their loving and focused attention.
Coordinators Diane Links, Mareldia Bressick and Guswill Cleophas shared their uplifting experiences of the sometimes challenging, but immensely rewarding journey of running the programme at their sites this year.
See our Facebook page for an album of pictures taken at this event.
HSPP trainers from Wordworks made a special trip to Bonnievale to facilitate the first HSPP Training of Trainers on 27 November.
We are delighted to be working with Capespan and Langeberg Trainers as our lead partners in this new venture.
This will enable our partners to train new facilitators and extend the reach of the HSPP.
We are excited that so many more parents will gain valuable insight into how to support their children’s early learning at home.
In November, Brigid Comrie and Faith Shabangu from Wordworks attended a graduation event for Early Childhood Development practitioners and Foundation for Community Work (FCW) home visitors who attended monthly #EveryWordCounts workshops in Worcester in 2017.
The programme was delivered by FCW over 10 months, and was funded by RCL Foods.
Participants each received a pack of animal memory cards donated by Barrows, and 12 practitioners and home visitors received prizes for using the CareUp parenting App regularly over the past 4 months.
In November, 115 teachers from 34 schools received certificates from Wordworks for conducting a series of workshops with parents and caregivers of young children that attend their schools. The workshops aim to build closer ties between homes and schools, and give parents ideas and resources for supporting informal learning in their homes.
These teachers have joined the growing network of teachers facilitating the Home-School Partnerships (HSP) Programme. After volunteering to participate in the programme, the teachers were trained and supported by Wordworks to take parents through an early literacy course, conducted on weekends and after school hours. These workshops give parents practical ways of supporting their young children’s learning at home. Over 1000 parents from 69 schools/organisations successfully completed the 8-week course this year.
Of the 115 teachers who received Wordworks certificates, 36 also registered for the HSP Programme through the University of Cape Town and received a UCT short course certificate. These teachers are looking beyond their classrooms, to involve and celebrate the role of parents as partners in educating young children.
At the happy and inspiring certification event, Sharon Lewin, a Deputy Chief Education Specialist for People Management in the Metro South Education District, commended these teachers for their dedication and hard work. ‘You might think you are only making a small difference, but in fact you are nation builders,’ Lewin said. She said that the WCED’s mandate is to ensure quality education for every child in every school, in every classroom, and through the Home-School Partnership Programme, teachers were providing support for quality learning in every home. Wordworks director, Shelley O’Carroll, proposed that providing opportunities for parents to learn how to support their children at home is key to improving our literacy results and ensuring more children reach their potential.
A teacher who facilitated the course says, ‘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.’
A parent who completed the course says, ‘The … 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.’
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.