Developing kids’ language

2019-04-23 06:00
Wordworks helps children with early childhood literacy development to better their learning abilities for the future.

Wordworks helps children with early childhood literacy development to better their learning abilities for the future.

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Volunteers are vital for the running of Wordworks’ beneficial child development programmes – and even more, volunteers are necessary to allow for better service delivery for the children.

Wordworks, a non-profit organisation (NPO) began its work in under-resourced communities in 2005.

It focuses on facilitating early language and literacy development in the first eight years of a child’s life, which is accomplished through the training of great language mentors.

The NPO provides its services to schools across the Western Cape, equipping parents, teachers, caregivers and mentors with the resources to better assist children’s development, and help them to perform intellectually to the best of their ability for the future of their education.

“We teach children from Grade R through to Grade 3. By focusing on the younger grades we hope to eradicate problems that might arise later on. A child cannot successfully complete their school career unless they are first able to read and write,” says Tina Harcourt-Wood, the Wordworks facilitator at Capricorn Primary School.

“Capricorn is in one of the poorest areas in the Western Cape. For many of the children, English is not their home language.”

There is a combination of psychosocial and socio-economic challenges faced by learners in this area.

Harcourt-Wood explains that often, a child will not receive the correct foundational learning or sufficient interaction at home, as a result of poor resources or parents who are not present for many possible reasons. This then leads to an intellectual disability, which is why it is crucial for the NPO to allocate mentors to schools in this area and similar ones.

“At Capricorn Primary School, we have five sessions that volunteers can choose from: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 08:30 till 10:30, and then a later time slot on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:50 till 12:50,” says Harcourt-Wood.“We ask volunteers to give us two hours of their time each week, working with two children at a time for one hour each, so they will have the same four children each week for a minimum of a six month period.”

Volunteers are trained at the school and observe numerous lessons before they are allocated children to teach independently. They need no formal or further education – just the ability to speak English and a love for children.

Harcourt-Wood encourages all volunteers who want to work with the school, or with any other school supported by the NPO, to get in touch with Wordworks.

  • Email Tina Harcourt-Wood at to work with Capricorn Primary School.
  • To work with another school, email with contact details and a mentorship motivation.


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