Ready, steady, read ...Reading at an intermediate level is crucial.Wordworks, a non-profit organisation, is doing all it can to help new learners focus on early language and literacy development in the first eight years of their lives. Now learners of Capricorn Primary School in Vrygrond are also benefitting from the programme. The school is currently running the organisation’s Ready, Steady, Read and Write programme, in which coordinators are equipped to train and manage a team of tutors who support pairs of children for at least six months as they learn to read and write.Since 2005 the organisation has worked in poor areas with adults best positioned to help young children’s language and literacy development – parents and caregivers, family and community members, home visitors, early childhood development practitioners and Grade R to Grade 3 teachers.Tina Harcourt-Wood, project coordinator of Wordworks, says they teach Grade R to Grade 3 learners specifically because by focusing on the younger grades they hope to avoid problems that could arise later on. “A child cannot successfully complete his school career unless he is first able to read and write. We see a world where young children are supported to develop early language and literacy so that their lives are enriched and they grow to their full potential,” she says.Harcourt-Wood says the children who participate in the programme are reaping the rewards. “We are consistently seeing results in the children who attend the Wordworks lessons. Sometimes the progress is slow and steady and other times the child only needs a six monthly ‘boost’ session with us to get them up to speed with the rest of the class again. We do assessments in June and December so that we are able to track each child’s progress,” she says.The nationwide programme is the brainchild of Dr Shelley O’Carroll, the director of Wordworks who trained as a remedial teacher and educational psychologist. “Her research for her PhD was conducted in South Africa and explored ways of supporting the early literacy development of Grade 1 children learning to read and write in English as a second language. Hence, she saw an opportunity to start Wordworks,” Harcourt-Wood says.They are looking for volunteers. “Anyone can volunteer as long as they are fluent in English, love children and are not short of patience. No experience is required; we provide full training and all the resources that they will need.There are time slots on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 08:30 to 10:30 and also on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:50 to 12:50. V Anyone interested in volunteering at Capricorn Primary School can email Tina Harcourt-Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to help out at other schools, email email@example.com with your contact details.