Educational activities for the holidays

Holidays are coming up and your children are excited to have a break, relax, sleep late, watch TV, and see their friends. It is important however that your child is still doing some educational activities during these holiday weeks.

Here are some ideas:

  • Reading, reading and more reading! If you don’t have books at home then you could go to the local library. Your child should be encouraged to read stories they enjoy and that are at a level that is suitable for them. As a family you could read books together.


  • Playing board games. There are some really great board games out there that you can play together. Games like Scrabble, 30 seconds, and Pictionary are great for spelling and increasing vocabulary. Games like monopoly are good for entrepreneurship and maths. Even simple games like cards or snakes and ladders are good for counting and learning to take turns.
  • Have a family quiz night.
  • Creating scrapbooks and collages.
  • Writing stories, creating comics, or journaling about the holiday.
  • Going on educational outings such as to the zoo or a museum.
  • Building different structures and objects using recyclable material or building blocks.
  • Practice measuring at home by letting your children help you with cooking and baking.
  • If you have a tablet or phone, you can download educational games for your child to play.
  • If your child loves TV, try encourage them to also watch some educational programs such as nature documentaries.
Father and son with laundry basket
Father and son with laundry basket

It is fine to let your kids have some TV, phone and tablet time but make sure they are balancing this out with outside play, social activities, educational activities, and helping with chores around the house.

Happy Holidays.

Words by the Sparrow School’s Educational Trust Speech Therapist, Samantha Bolton.

Bolton’s educational background:

Advanced Diploma in Remedial Education (UJ) In Progress; Post Graduate Certificate in Education – Intermediate and Senior Phase (UNISA) ; BA Psychology Honours degree; (University of Johannesburg) CUM LAUDE; BA degree Psychological Counseling (UNISA) CUM LAUDE.

Bringing Occupational Therapy Into Your Home


As an Occupational Therapist, I constantly feel that the children who attend therapy with me at school would benefit enormously from therapy 3 times a week! However, with a child’s busy schedule this is just not possible!

As parents, you often feel helpless with your child’s learning, and as I can well imagine, you at times find yourself feeling lost as to how you will ever get your child to understand a particular concept.


Occupational Therapy encompasses a child’s abilities as a whole and explores all the individual unique skills your child possesses. So what can you do at home to stimulate skill development? Try the following tips:

  • Encourage your child to practice and learn the different shapes and colours within their environment. When your child accompanies you on a shopping trip encourage them to identify the colours and shapes of objects.
  • Once they have learnt to identify letters and numbers encourage the exploration of the identification of these components within their environment.
  • Encourage gross motor play. This is a very important part of a child’s development, and hence, a child should be encouraged to run, climb, skip and make his/her way through an obstacle course.
  • Encourage your child to use their imaginations, and create stories or ideas from pictures or situations they are exposed to. For example, “look at the picture of the cow on the milk bottle, did you know that milk comes from cows?”

Warren Thompson is the Learner Support Unit Manager at the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

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Self-esteem is the way people see themselves. Children develop self-esteem very early in life and are shaped by their own expectations as well as the expectations of significant people in their life, such as parents, caregivers or peers.

Self-esteem is an important factor in a child’s motivations and achievements and can have an effect on their performance in school, sports, social relationships and the ability to recover from disappointment. A child’s self-esteem can change from day to day, however, their overall self-esteem plays a major role in their emotional development. A child with low self-esteem will tend to settle for modest accomplishments and may feel shame or inadequacy and are more likely to conform to their peer group and adopt their behaviours and values. Children with low-self esteem are often not able to deal with stress and failures.

To determine if a child has low self-esteem, look for the following signals:

  • A child who avoids a task or challenge without even trying or quitting at the first sign of frustration
  • Cheating or lying when the child thinks they are going to lose
  • Drop in school grades
  • Social withdrawal or little contact with friends
  • Makes self-critical comments like “nobody likes me”
  • Overly sensitive about other people’s opinion of them

How can you help a child with low self-esteem? In order for a child to develop a healthier self-esteem, they will need the following:

  1. Sense of security: Children must feel secure about themselves and their future.
  2. Sense of belonging: Children need to feel accepted and loved by others. This begins in the family and extends to friends, schoolmates and other groups.
  3. Sense of purpose: Children should have goals that give them purpose and direction.
  4. Personal competence and pride: Children should feel confident in their ability to meet the challenges in their lives. This comes from having success in solving problems, being creative and seeing results from their efforts.
  5. Trust: Children need to feel like they are trusted by their parents, caregivers and other children. To help children feel trusted, you need to be sure to keep promises you make to them and give them chances to be trustworthy.
  6. Self-discipline and control: As children are gaining independence, they need to sense that they can make it on their own. Give them opportunities and guidelines for them to test themselves.
  7. Accepting mistakes and failure: Children need to know that when they make a mistake they are not defeated. When a child makes a mistakes or fails, explain that hurdles and setbacks are a normal part of life and the important thing is to always try their hardest and to ask for help when they need it. Support them with constructive criticism that is designed to help them improve, not to make them feel discouraged or humiliated.

Words by Marichen Klaver, a registered Counsellor / student Educational Psychologist at Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

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The Foundation School opens Science Centre

While the Gauteng Provincial Government opened the province’s first “School of Specialisation” in Soweto on Monday, the Sparrow Foundation School launched its Natural Science & Technology Centre on Tuesday. The Centre is part of a long-term infrastructure upgrade that is aimed at creating a hub of remedial instruction within the school.

Provantage Media Group and General Electric representatives Katinka Beeslaar and Mariana Jacobsz
Provantage Media Group and General Electric representatives Katinka Beeslaar and Mariana Jacobsz

The new Remedial centre now includes the Literacy Enrichment Centre, the Maths Enrichment Centre and the newly built Natural Science and Technology Centre. The new centre was made possible through the generous contributions of the Provantage Media Group and General Electric. “Provantage has always been committed to education and after we did our research on Sparrow Schools, we knew that it was the obvious choice. We knew where our money was going, we can definitely see the results,” says Provantage Media Group’s HR Manager, Katinka Beeslaar.

Clients and guests observing the first lesson

General Electric representative, Mariana Jacobsz also adds, “General Electric has been involved with the Sparrow Foundation School now, we are always willing to help where we can. It is great to see the difference that is happening in the school, I have also really grown to care for the school and the children.”

Once fully completed, the Natural Science and Technology Centre will be equipped with multimedia teaching equipment that enables the teaching of lessons using content of any format. This may include online content, audio, video or digitally displayed lesson content. Screens and displays will also be located in the classroom to enable teaching from multiple positions while also ensuring that learners can access the information no matter where they are in the class.

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A Love for Reading Starts at Home

It is an exciting time for a child when they start learning to read, and this excitement needs to be nurtured at home. In school reading is involved in all subject areas, helping your child to read with fluency and comprehension is a vital skill that your child will need to cope well in the higher grades. Our Remedial Therapist, Samantha Bolton shares some tips to do at home:

1) Expose children to books and the wonder of stories from as young as possible.

2) Read daily with your child, reading should not only be confined to set school books they bring home but reading should also be for pleasure, reading can be a special bonding time between parents and their children.

3) Go to the library, this is a wonderful free activity and many libraries offer storytime and holiday programs.

4) Have books with you all the time, useful for keeping the little ones busy during while waiting for appointments, shopping,  eating a restaurant, and for those long drives.

5) Let your child read books to you at their level but also read books to them that are a bit more advanced so they can enjoy listening and using their imagination.

6) For older readers encourage them to get hooked on a book series so that they keep reading more.

7) Talk to your children about what they are reading, ask them questions, and at the end get them to summarise the book in a few sentences in their own words.

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The Sparrow FET College awards candidates

Staying true to Sparrow’s vision, we have ensured  that we equip young people with the capability to earn a livelihood through training in scarce skills. As stressed by the FET College’s Operations Manager, Melanie Malema in the organisation’s 2014 annual report, the College has “developed a programme that as opposed to mere training for the sake of training, promises to address skills shortages that characterise local industry.”

Graduates and facilitators in Installation of Floor Coverings.

On 6 May 2016, the Sparrow FET College hosted its second graduation ceremony to award students from the 2014 groups across the different programs offered by the College. The graduates who were awarded included groups from the Automotive Repair & Maintenance, Fluid Power Hose Assemblies, Assistant Chef, Welding Application & Practice, Furniture Making and Installation of Floor Coverings.

Duduzile Seroka, Palese Ntsodi, Asia Khomba, Hope Galela and Zandile Siyaya proudly show their Assistant Chef certificates.

In attendance were various industry partners and SETA’s who have collaborated with the College to ensure that the vision of equipping  young people with skills is realized. These included representatives from Spar, Mercedes-Benz, Merseta, New Tank Designs, FP & M, Everwood, and FITA. The ceremony was also well attended by the pupils with support from friends and family.

Proud moment for students and their flooring industry training Director, Patty Vermaak.

“On behalf of the College, we would like to thank the parents for entrusting your children to us. Thank you to the facilitators for their dedication, thank you to the SETA’s for their help with registrations. We also thank our industry partners for continuing to accommodate our learners,” said the Sparrow FET college’s Client Liaison, Mary Webber.

What are gross motor skills and why are they important?

Gross Motor Skills is a term often used by teachers, therapists as well as other health care professionals. You may have heard it in passing, referring to another child, or maybe your child is attending therapy to improve their gross motor skills.

In whichever way you may have been exposed, there is often confusion about which specific skills relate to this term. Generally as occupational therapists, we define gross motor skills as those skills in which the whole body (or the majority of the body) is used. The specific core muscle groups are involved, and specific movements are generated.

Sparrow_000 - Copy

These movements, together incorporate activities such as running, jumping, hopping, skipping, as well as playground specific skills including climbing and navigating through a jungle gym.

Why are these skills important? This is a frequently asked question specifically from parents who have children who are currently seeing an OT. These essential gross motor skills form the basis for engagement within, believe it or not, all our daily tasks. Consider this, you wake up in the morning, and prepare to start your day. You move into the shower from your bed. Thereafter, you walk back to your room where you prepare to get dressed. Here it is essential you remain standing on one leg, to put on each leg of your pants. You continue about your day as normal, using the foundation skills you developed as a child.


From the age of 7, and even 6 within certain environments, you are expected to remain within a classroom routine for an extended period of time within a day. Here, a child is expected to sit upright at a desk, make use of a pen, or other stationary and engage in other tasks such as listening attentively to the teacher, and answering questions he or she poses. In order for a child to keep this position and use their dominant hand, as well as use the cognitive skills necessary for paying attention, a good development of core muscles is essential, all of which develops through our gross motor skills.

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How can you bring gross motor skills into your child’s daily routine? Spend a short period each day encouraging your child to engage in activities in which they should run, jump or climb! Encourage them to catch and throw a ball to each other, or play a game of soccer! Set up a short obstacle course where the child can perform different movements in different positions. By encouraging and stimulating this type of engagement, your child will want to participate in gross motor tasks on their own, stimulating furthermore independent engagement.

Words by Kate Delmont, Occupational Therapist at the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust. Kate holds a BSc from the Witswatersrand University.

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A Building Block Of Future Learning

On 10 May, the Sparrow Foundation School will launch its Natural Science and Technology Centre sponsored by General Electric and Provanage Media Group. In the last 12 months, the school successfully established the Remedial Learning Centre (RLC). This is a long-term infrastructure upgrade that is aimed at creating a hub of remedial instruction within the school. The completed RLC will comprise of three building blocks, two which have already been completed. These are the Literacy Enrichment Centre and The Maths Enrichment Centre. The Science and Technolgy Centre is the last step in completing the RCL.

The Maths Enrichment (ME) Centre
The Maths Enrichment (ME) Centre

The effective teaching of basic concepts relating to science and technology lies central to the learner’s understanding and interaction with the world around him/her. A healthy grasp of concepts related to science and technology can substantially improve the learner’s competency in processing and acquiring new concepts in other subjects.  Outside the classroom, it equips the child with confidence and ability to interact with the world in a productive manner.

As a school focussed on providing progressive, holistic, remedial and special needs education, every learning space the learner encounters must be designed to address the learner’s individual learning style and maximise that learner’s potential to learn and acquire new skills.

The Literacy Enrichment Centre
The Literacy Enrichment Centre

The Foundation School is a primary school offering LSEN and remedial educational environment to learners with special educational needs. The school prioritises learners who come from disadvantaged areas and circumstances. Typically, learners who fall in this category have extremely limited access to quality education. The needs of learners with learning difficulties are largely unaddressed in these areas.

By focussing on these learners, they are provided an opportunity to develop, learn and grow in an educational environment that understand the needs of such learner, while also endeavouring to continually develop and upgrade the learning environment.

In the last 12 months, the school successfully established the Remedial Learning Centre (RLC). This is a long-term infrastructure upgrade that is aimed at creating a hub of remedial instruction within the school. The completed RLC will comprise of three building blocks, two which have already been completed. These are the Literacy Enrichment Centre and The Maths Enrichment Centre. The Science and Technolgy Centre is the last step in completing the RCL.

Words by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Academic Manager at the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

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Canze rises above terrible accident

In June 2013, Diyoko Canze (32) was involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident, leaving him critically injured. He was hospitalised at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and had to undergo therapy. Canze is a father to a five-year-old son and prior to the accident, he was planning on marrying the mother of his child.

Prior to the accident, he was in a stable job and also holds an IT certificate from Torque IT. His life took a completely different, the accident resulted in speech deficits and noticeable physical defects. He was referred to the Sparrow FET College by his therapist and was enrolled into the End User Computing programme in November 2015.


After joining the FET College, Canze was referred to the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust’s Occupational Therapist (OT). This was after it was found that Canze had trouble writing as a result of the injuries incurred following the accident.  After undergoing assessment, the OT found that it was best for Canze to make use of typing on a computer within exam periods to enable timeous completion, as well as confidence in his own abilities and overall performance.

Writing aid

Since joining the programme and consulting with the OT, Canze’s speech and writing abilities have improved tremendously. This was thanks to the keyboard and handwriting aid that were provided specially to accommodate his disability. “His progress has really been phenomenal. He’s passionate, he knows why he is here and his heart is fully into it,” says the End User Computing Facilitator, Steven Banda.

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FCA Group donates parts to the Sparrow FET College

On 03 March 2016, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group donated brand new and unsold parts to the Automotive Repair & Maintenance class at the Sparrow FET College in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. The parts are estimated to be at the value of more than Two million rands.  These included mechanical and electrical Fiat, Chrysler and Jeep car parts, such as exhausts manifolds, fuel pump modules, brake discs, gear kits, and much more.


“In 2015, we’ve looked at supplying these parts to schools that really need them as a way of giving back to the community. We are happy to have found Sparrow and we hope these will be of great benefit to the students,” says Richard Slowman, Accessories Manager for the FCA Group.


The parts will go a long way to ensuring that the Sparrow FET College continues to provide quality education and training. “We thank the FCA Group for the donation, it is definitely going to be helpful. I’m sure that our students are going to reap the maximum benefits,” says the Sparrow FET College’s Operations Manager, Melanie Malema.


The College has always thrived on the support of key industry partners such as the FCA Group. “We look forward to a long-standing relationship with the FCA Group,” adds Malema.  Through educating and training the youth the College is developing their capabilities for a better life. In order to realize this vision fully, the College needs help in different areas.


The success of the vision relies on partnerships and collaboration with various institutions and organisations willing to provide funding or donations of any form. The Sparrow FET College is seeking to build partnerships with industry or corporates to improve the education and training of disempowered youth in South Africa with an objective of contributing to the larger objective of uplifting the country’s economy and the wellbeing of those marginalised in our society.

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