Our STELLAR Programme goes back to Zimbabwe

Jo Labouchere, one of Wordworks’ training partners, recently continued in-person Stellar Programme training with teachers and mentors in Zimbabwe. She went to several schools around Victoria Falls, and travelled further afield to work with ECD and Grade 1 teachers and deliver books to schools*. She also worked with mentors (a mix of school leavers and parents) who will help implement the Stellar Programme as a literacy intervention – even up to Grade 5!

Jo says: “It has been incredible to see the different schools and work with some amazing teachers. Many of the schools are in remote areas with no access to materials… Teachers often do not have basics like chalk, pens or text books provided, and children walk vast distances to get to school.

Some feedback on the training:
‘I am fully equipped to teach both Tshivenda and English using the materials I have been given. I will also support teachers who remained behind to make teaching more meaningful’. Read More

This story will warm your heart

Madwaleni Hospital in the Eastern Cape believes, as we do, that ALL children have the right to be exposed to a language rich environment, including those who have developmental difficulties.

They train the caregivers, therapists and ECD practitioners of affected children at the hospital and surrounding communities, on the Wordworks EVERY WORD COUNTS (EWC) Programme, and LITTLE STARS classroom-based programme.

Caregiver training encourages book reading with their children (even those who have disabilities like cerebral palsy and need to be in special positions like in a ‘Waskom’ or lying down on their backs. Caregivers are also  trained in the CP (cerebral palsy), T21 (Down’s Syndrome) and SAM (severe acute malnutrition) groups regarding play.

Madwaleni also trains community service speech and occupational therapists working in other hospitals in their district to support their services and provide them with EWC materials for caregiver training. 

Wordworks in Gauteng

Wordworks has broadened its horizons to support early language and emergent literacy teaching in the Gauteng Province. Wordworks has been appointed the Language technical partner to the Gauteng Grade R Improvement Programme and has been responsible for materials development as well as the training of trainers, which started in the 4thTerm of 2021.  

The  Grade R Home Language Improvement Programme is fully *CAPS-aligned and designed to strengthen the oral language and emergent literacy of Grade R learners. It is organised into  two-week cycles of teaching  built around a story which is brought to life for the learners through fully interactive activities.

The programme is supported by the following resource components that were developed in close collaboration with the GDE: A Concept Guide which sets out the educational and curriculum principles that underpin the programme design; Read More

The first thousand days of a child’s life

Through presentations and events Sikunye spreads the powerful idea that churches can play a unique and significant role in the First Thousand Days (FTD) of a child’s life.  Sikunye is an initiative of The Common Ground Church together with church leaders and congregants.

This week Wordworks and Nal’ibali were guest speakers at one of their big biannual events. Wordworks’ presentation focused on TALKING and emphasised that communicating with your baby helps the baby’s brain to grow.

Our Early Literacy Specialist, Faith Shabangu, presented on behalf of Wordworks, and she says,Read More

Teamwork leads to change

Heideveld Primary School held their Home-School Partnerships (HSP) programme graduation recently. As well as graduating parents, six newly trained HSP teacher-facilitators were celebrated as well! This occasion was attended by all the HSP facilitators, trained and established, standing together with parents as a team 

Parents were passionate about sharing the fun they had with their children. They embraced  learning through playing. The facilitators prepared 3 easels with newsprint paper in the playground for parents to reflect on their learnings (see frame 3). They worked in groups and gave feedback on the poster they made. A good advert for their community to see the impact of the programme! Read More

A celebration filled with sweet treats and proud hearts!

Square Hill Primary School held a certification event on the 21st of May for parents and caregivers that completed the Home-School Partnerships (HSP) programme! 

Square Hill began with 20 participants attending the workshops and ended off with a bang, with 14 of them graduating. 6 HSP teacher-facilitators conducted the eight sessions with the parents on Saturday mornings. Square Hill HSP coordinator, Juliet George describes her approach with the teacher-facilitators: “We actually split our sessions up between the facilitators so that each of their home lives weren’t drastically impacted. We also had a lot of group and interactive work.” 

At the function, the deputy principal Imelda Nefdt acknowledged the parents’ efforts on behalf of the school. Colleen Diedericks attended the graduation on behalf of Wordworks and spoke  about the important role that the teachers of Square Hill have played in supporting parents to assist their children’s early literacy development and thereby uplifting their community. Read More

South African NGOs coming together for early literacy development!

Nal’ibali, BookDash, and Wordworks have partnered in the Yizani Sifunde project, funded by Liberty Community Trust, which focuses on improving early literacy in the Eastern Cape. The project has been working in communities from East London, Sterkstroom, Molteno and Burgerdorp. The consortium aims at strengthening early literacy development in the early childhood development (ECD) sector. 

Since the initial implementation in 2021, Yizani Sifunde has reached over 1400 children. ECD centres have received resources from our classroom-based programme for pre Grade R, Little Stars, to implement in the classroom. Children have also received storybooks from BookDash in their home language to take home and read with family, as can be seen in frame 1. This has also encouraged more practitioners, parents and caregivers to start reading stories to young children, highlighting the importance of reading in their home language.Read More

Laying the Foundation for Functional Literacy in the Early Grades

School Leadership Forum(SLF)has partnered up with Wordworks (WW) to curate an early literacy online course for educators. This course, Laying the Foundation for Functional Literacy in the Early Grades, is accredited with the South African Council for Educators (SACE). Attendees are awarded with 10 points.

This course consists of four sessions that will be running until mid-August. Session 1 took place on the 26th of May and focused on strong oral language as the foundation for literacy.

Teachers that attended the first session enjoyed the Wordworks videos that were used during the session. The Wordworks facilitators in frames 1 and 2, prompted discussions after which the participants engaged in chat groups to take the conversations further. It is anticipated that these online discussions will only improve as they warm up to each other over the course of the sessions.Read More

Online learning in the 21st century!

The Wordworks (WW) programme, Ready Steady Read Write (RSRW) is now in its  second year of using a dual online training model. This includes an online Learning Management System (LMS) on which users can complete the self-study programme at their own pace.

Face to face training is always great, but online training also has its benefits as we reach more participants across the country. WW has recreated the programme to fit into an online course. With this online course, participants are given the opportunity to complete the course in their own time, processing and grasping the concepts..

Newly recruited coordinators are registered by their organisations and schools to learn online how to run the RSRW tutoring programme. The programme comes with targeted reading and writing skills that work as solid support for Grade R and Grade 1 learners.Read More

Creativity and literacy – a successful relationship.

Creative Skills Factory is a NPO based in the Overstrand. This organisation keeps their eyes and mission set on providing holistic support for children, families, caregivers, and teachers. The support is given to assist individuals in developing a foundation of social and emotional skills. Creative Skills Factory uses our Little Stars Programme in their Early Learning Programme.  

The Creative Skills Factory NPC team says, “We would like to express our appreciation to (Wordworks) for your wonderful resources which we are thoroughly enjoying using in our work with young children.”

Creative Skills factory uses the Little Stars Programme and its stories to not only encourage the children to learn, but to also encourage their creative thinking.Read More

Young people continue to create change!

The WCED @HomeLearning Programme in partnership with Year Beyond (that provides experience for unemployed youth, referred to as ‘Yeboneers’), are using our TIME programme materials as one of a number of activities that are being used in the communities and schools.

The Yeboneers are conducting the TIME sessions in a number of communities in Winelands, Eden Karoo and West Coast.

As one of many activities, mentors support Yeboneers to run parent/caregiver workshops, one which includes doing practical TIME activities with them. This assists them in understanding the materials, after which they will be able to support children with the activities. The Yeboneers work directly with the children in the community and also run specific TIME sessions at schools, which children attend voluntarily.Read More

Here at Wordworks we’re celebrating Mother’s Day alongside all of you!

Today we are shining light on how engaging in literacy activities with your child enhances that special bond!

Mem Fox said that “The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading.”  To all the mothers out there – may the literacy fire between you and your child always remind you of how special you truly are.

Some mothers in the WW team shared how reading together has brought them closer to their children:

Jacqui says “Reading with my children has, and always will be, my most treasured time spent with them. No matter what kind of day we’ve had, when we start reading, the world somehow feels different … lighter and happier. Working at Wordworks has taught me that there is no greater gift that we as mothers can give our children, than the gift of reading. It not only benefits our children’s educational journey, but it feeds their souls and opens their minds to a world of magic and unlimited possibilities. ”Read More

Wordworks without borders!

Jo Labouchere has been doing various projects with Wordworks for 11 years. She has widened the spread of our work and taken our programmes  to teachers in Zimbabwe, training them on the Wordworks Ready Steady Read Write and Stellar Home Language programmes since 2017. Post-Covid, she went back to conduct in-person Stellar training with 40 teachers. 

Jo says, “It was so exciting to be able to visit the teachers of Zimbabwe and Zambia again after two years’ delay.  Many of the teachers travelled far to attend the training.”

During the past two years Wordworks has updated the Stellar material with new activities, which now cover a full year of literacy teaching. The participants were so excited to see the new materials and realise that they now have a full years’ literacy programme.Read More

A school of opportunities.

This week we feature another long-term partner of Wordworks (WW). Zwaanswyk Academy has been running the WW Home-School Partnerships (HSP) programme since 2015!

This year they hosted yet another heart-warming graduation for parents and caregivers that completed the programme.

In the HSP programme, teachers are trained to run a series of workshops over eight weeks to empower and inspire parents and caregivers of children aged 6 to 8 years to support informal and fun learning at home.

Two of the current teachers have been facilitators since this school began running the programme.

Even though the programme is targeted at mainly parents, a Grade 4 teacher from the school attended the entire course because she felt that as a mom, there are always things to learn and ways to improve her child’s literacy skills.

Another mother attended the course through the encouragement of her husband, who had attended the course 6 years ago and was still reaping the rewards.Read More

Making a difference in the lives of the youth!

Year Beyond, otherwise known as Yebo, runs as a Youth Service programme for 18 to 25 year olds that assists them in gaining meaningful work experience, work while volunteering, and stepping onto a path that could help further their studies. 

The @HomeLearning programme and Year Beyond will be providing Workworks TIME programme materials to grade R and grade 1 learners in over 50 schools in the Western Cape, and the life-changing approach doesn’t stop there!

The schools located in the Cape Winelands, Eden Karoo, and the West Coast will receive the materials that encourage at home learning but in addition to that, over 300 unemployed youth have been recruited as Yeboneers and will use the TIME materials in community hubs and to provide support for the children.Read More

Fairview Primary School celebrates 10 years of running the Wordworks HSP programme 

Fairview Primary School, located in the heart of Grassy Park, has always prioritised providing the best and most efficient approach to education for their learners. The Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme (HSP) was introduced to Fairview by their late teacher Mrs Agmat, and the school worked to get the HSP programme to be an integral part of Fairview’s educational strategy. This has led to Fairview celebrating 10 years of running the Wordworks’ HSPP in March, 2022! Read More

A husband and wife team that goes above and beyond!

Mr and Mrs Malope are a couple that have proven that enough is never enough! Being the parents of 27, 21, and 15 year old girls, the Malopes haven’t let parenting duties stop them from going the extra mile for children that are in need. They also foster two, four, and five year olds. The Malopes run their own ECD centre and orphanage. The Malopes wanted to try a different parenting approach, “so we can employ contemporary methods in dealing with our children’s growing and learning and do away with the iron hands approach we grew up with.” They decided to do the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme (HSP) Programme with Ubunye Educare Centre to help them evolve their parenting. Read More


Libraries – keeping the doors of learning open!

The week of the 14th to the 18th of March was #LibraryWeek. We shared some recollections from Wordworks team members of their experiences with public libraries.
Here are extracts from pieces written by Colleen Diedericks, Natasha Rosen and Magali von Blottnitz.
We need to ensure that libraries are valued and kept open for the essential role they play in society.

Wordworks and Book Dash – in partnership to change lives through literacy

Seven years down the line, the partnership between these two NGOs has resulted in over 26 600 books for little ones going to children in families across the provinces. This distribution has happened through the many schools, ECD centres and NGOs that run Wordworks programmes.

Julia Norish, Book Dash Director, says: “We value our work with Wordworks so much for its reach and impact.”  And we feel the same way about Book Dash!

Read more about Book dash here:  https://bookdash.org/

Helping young children learn Maths at home can be fun!

A great partnership between Wordworks and the Primary Science Programme (PSP) has resulted in 3000 parents in our Home-School Partnerships (HSP) network having access to their Practical Maths at Home guide for parents. The book enhances children’s Maths literacy informally, in a fun way, using ordinary and daily activities at home.

This book has been excitedly received by teachers at their training as it perfectly complements the HSP session which covers learning about Maths. They could see how both they and the parents could use the very practical and engaging activities to make learning about numbers, shapes, time, measuring, patterns and data gathering easy and fun, whether using it at home or in the classroom. 

Zorina Dharsey (Director of the PSP) tells how the book was developed: Read More

A long-standing school, always moving forward!

This week we’re talking about Sid.G.Rule’s significant relationship with parents of their learners and their long-time commitment to running our empowering, and driven programme. We’re referring to the Home-School Partnerships Programme (HSPP). As you may know, HSPP is one of our well-loved and well-known programmes, and Sid.G.Rule Primary School in Grassy Park is one of the schools that can advocate that this programme is highly valued. 

The HSPP involves Wordworks training the teachers in the programme and the teachers following with 8 training sessions with the parents of learners at their school.  Parents feel empowered to support their children’s learning and develop a new connection with them. The hard work of parents is rewarded by an event, organised by the teachers, accompanied by a certificate to celebrate their new-found skills. Read More