Let Learning Continue…

Can you believe it is already nearly December and our children are nearly finishing up their year at school.  Your kids have worked hard this year and they deserve a rest over the December holidays. Just because school is ending though it doesn’t mean that learning has to end, there are so many great activities that will help keep your children entertained as well as providing them with opportunities to keep on learning.

Some activity ideas for the holidays are:

  • Go on educational outings to the Zoo or other museums around Gauteng. The JHB offers holiday programs.
  • Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is an amazing interactive science and technology centre, it is open 7 days a week including public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday. It is R30 for kids and R45 for adults. They have holiday programs too.
  • Go have a picnic at one of our beautiful parks or Botanical gardens. Your children can draw a picture of the wildlife or write a story about your day.
  • You can go camping in your backyard and let your children use their imagination to make up an adventure. If you don’t have a tent you can set up a fort using blankets and towels.
  • 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.
  • Baking and cooking are really great practical activities that get kids involved, this is great for practicing measuring and it is an extra bonus if the kids get to lick the spoon afterwards.
  • Arts and crafts activities are great for children’s creativity and fine motor skills. Crafts can be Christmas related and they can be done using recyclable material.
  • I’m sure your children will be wanting to spend time with their friends and family but if you see that they are spending their days only watching TV, or playing electronic games then implement a no technology rule for an hour a day where you force your children to go and play something or make something not technology related.
  • With your children having more time on their hands it may be a great opportunity to teach them the value of volunteering. There are a lot of different options such as spending time at an animal shelter, visiting an old age home, making gifts or food for people who may need it in your community. Charity SA has a list of different organisations that may need help.
  • I personally love reading and I can’t wait for the holidays when I get time to get stuck into some novels that have been waiting for me on my bookshelf. Reading to your children is an activity that you can do everyday. Your local library may also be running story time or holiday programs. It is important that your children see that you also love reading , a family reading time can be implemented every week where everyone in the family stops what they are doing and they read for an hour.
  • If you are travelling for the holidays try to take some books with you and some cards and portable games such as chess. You can also play some fun car games such as memory games and I spy.

Remember it is also ok to let your children be bored, it is usually during these times that they use their imagination and come up with creative games to keep themselves occupied.

Happy Holidays!

Written by Samantha Bolton – LSU Remedial Therapist

Team from Henley Business School support Sparrow’s Feeding Scheme

Over the past five months, Sparrow School has worked with middle managers who were completing a Management Advancement programme at Henley Business School, South Africa. As a beneficiary of the programme, Sparrow received free facilitation and consultation from six people on the programme to help develop our new feeding scheme.

The Foundation School Feeding Scheme started in January 2016, when a few concerned teachers and social workers noticed that some of the children had nothing to eat at school; no breakfast or lunch and consequently could not concentrate during class. The feeding scheme started off informally with a social worker bringing in sandwiches from home for children but soon realised that the issue was a lot bigger. After conducting formal assessments and interviews to see which children were not being fed before school or had no lunch with them at school, the staff found that there were 30 children who needed to be included on the feeding scheme. With the need being so great, Sparrow required a sustainable solution for the feeding scheme.


From April- October, Henley Business students visited the school to learn about our organisation and needs. On one occasion, the team volunteered to make burgers for the children and handed out a food parcel to all 30 children on the feeding scheme and described it as a humbling experience’. The Henley team facilitated a learning process that enabled Sparrow staff to identify the different issues preventing a sustainable feeding scheme at the school and allowed us to take a fresh approach to address our challenges. The programme culminated with a presentation on October 31st whereby the Henley team presented to Sparrow their journey and feedback.

The journey was based on a mutually beneficial relationship. Both parties learnt from each other and inspired each other to look at new ways to address the feeding scheme.

‘Henley Business School SA is committed to developing Africa’s leaders, this means reaching beyond corporate South Africa and into Civil Society. We recognise that with the universal need for business practice to be ethical, relevant, profitable and most importantly sustainable, we need more servant leaders who manage purpose driven enterprises.’ (Henley Business School).

The partnership was a great demonstration on how more needs to be done to bridge the gap between the corporate sector and community in order to build a better South Africa.

The outcome from working with the Henley Business School has been increased communication in the organisation; the social workers have worked closely with the fundraising team to communicate the needs of the feeding scheme. As a result, Sparrow have made a successful partnership with a company who has supplied food for the feeding scheme to ensure all the children have breakfast and lunch. This has helped concentration levels and learning in the classroom and will hopefully reflect in the exams results taking place next week. Sparrow have also employed a new staff member to prepare and deliver the food for the children on the feeding scheme so the teachers and social workers can focus on educating and supporting Sparrow children.

Thank you, once again to all the Henley Business School for all your support and encouraging business and communities to work together.

If your company would like to get involved with the community and support the development of South African youth we would love to meet you! Whether you need to get more benefits from what you spend on Skills Development or Enterprise & Supplier Development, or seek to do more with your Socio-economic and Corporate Social Investment budget, Sparrow FET College and Sparrow Schools provides reliable and valuable solutions across the board.


The importance of Phonological Awareness for developing literacy

What is Phonological Awareness?

Phonological Awareness is the ability to manipulate speech sounds in spoken words. For example, a Speech-Language Pathologist may ask a learner to segment syllables of a word by clapping the parts of the word. If the word was “cowboy”, the learner would be expected to clap once for “cow” and again for “boy”.

Why is Phonological Awareness important? 

Phonological Awareness is important, because it forms the basis for reading. Research has shown that children who are weak in Phonological Awareness show improvement in their word-level
reading skills after receiving therapy aimed at improving their Phonological Awareness skills.

How do you improve Phonological Awareness Skills at home? 

Try the following suggestion adapted from Knobelauch (2008):

  1. Find some beads and string around your home.
  2. Give your child some string and beads and have them tie a knot at one end.
  3. Say a word, for example, “cupcake” and have your child string one bead for each syllable they hear in the word. i.e. Your child will string one bead for “cup” and another bead for “cake”.
  • Once your child is able to string two syllable words such as “cupcake” and “cowboy”, try
    stringing three syllable words such as “newspaper” and “peppermint”.


Knobelauch, L. (2008). What is Phonological Awareness? Retrieved from https://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/172%20phonological%20awareness.pdf

Candice Tu, Speech-Language Pathologist

Sparrow learners enjoy a week long camp to celebrate the end of the school year!

After a long year of working hard at school, completing their homework and finishing their exams, pupils from grade 1 and 2 enjoyed a fantastic School Camp to end the school year on a high.

The camp was hosted by ‘Camp Footprints’ at Kwalata Adventure Camp in the Dinokeng BIG 5 Game Reserve. The week long camp took place from the 14th to the 18th November 2016 and the lead up was an exciting and nerve racking time for some of the children who were away from their families for the 1st time.    

The opportunity was provided by The Just Footprints Foundation, which is a registered Non-Profit organisation, that has been running since 2008 to meet the need for an outdoor camping experience that provides safe and secure adventures for children with serious health and life challenges. Many of our Sparrow learners have experienced serious life challenges already in their early life including severe poverty,  abuse, neglect and the loss of one or both parents.

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The opportunity provided by the Just Footprint Foundation was enjoyed by all the children who attended the camp, as it allowed them to be children once again in a safe and caring environment. The camping programme included environmental awareness, intentional play, fun activities and personal growth opportunities. It also provided the children the opportunity of make new friends and experience many unique and new adventures.

Thank you again for all the staff and volunteers who provided Sparrow learners with the opportunity to attend a unique school camp but also made it such an enjoyable time for the children.

Sparrow Schools are on the lookout for similar opportunities for our learners who do not get these opportunities without the generous support and donations from companies. individuals and Trusts. If you are able to help disadvantaged children with learning difficulties in Johannesburg, then we would like to hear from you.

Please contact:Foundation Reception (foundation@sparrowschools.co.za)

When Afrika Mohapi was left unable to speak after a terrible car accident, no one could ever have imagined how far he would come…

In 2015, Sparrow FET student Africa Mohapi was involved in a serious car accident that almost killed him and left him hospitalised for 2 months with no ability to speak  and severe brain injury. It was uncertain at the time, whether or not he would be able to lead a normal functioning life again.

This was not the 1st time Africa experienced a huge obstacle in the way of his life and career. In 2006, Africa landed his dream job working for Edcon Limited – the retail company based in Johannesburg, where he was involved in Talent Acquisition for the Human Resources Department.

‘I chose to study and pursue a career in HR, as I love to interact with people and help them to solve work related issues.’

For seven years, Africa thoroughly enjoyed his work at Edcon; he was involved with assisting the manager, auditing, training and interviews. However in 2013, when the company was struggling financially, Africa was retrenched.

For two years, Africa was unemployed and he spent his days applying for jobs and attending interviews but the work he was offered was through agencies, which meant work was based on commission, rather than a salary, so it was not a secure way to earn a living.  

In February 2015, Africa was flung out of the passenger seat of the car and suffered severe brain injury, which left him unable to speak and bed bound for 2 months. Yet it was not only his head that was hit. Africa’s confidence took a severe knock; he felt unsure of his abilities and was clueless about what to do next.

It was Africa’s Speech therapist who informed him about Sparrow Schools’ FET College and encouraged him to apply. In November 2015, Africa started the I.T. End User Programme. Although he struggled during his first month at Sparrow; with the help of the facilitator, Mr Banda who engaged and supported Africa, he slowly settled in and his confidence grew.  

‘’I was learning new things everyday and things were slowly turning around.”

After completing his six month theory at Sparrow FET College, Africa was placed at the Spar Central Office and he has just completed his six month work experience placement. The success of Sparrow’s FET model is combining the theory with the practical work experience; Africa was able to apply everything that he learnt at Sparrow to the workplace setting, including creating templates and spreadsheets for Spar’s HR department.

“I would advise anyone who is unsure whether to apply to Sparrow FET College, to go for it! It is so important to combine learning and work experience and Sparrow provides so many opportunities. I would not have ended up working at Spar if it had not been for Sparrow FET College.”

If you are a young person between the age of 18-35 and would like to gain life enhancing skills to help you enter the workplace, please get in touch: +27 11 673 4410. Visit our FET Facebook page and website for further information.

Please email headoffice@sparrowschools.co.za  if you would like to find out how to get involved with sponsoring a course to tackle youth unemployment and gain B-EEE points at the same time.

Tips on when to test your children’s eyes

  • Regular eye testing on a yearly basis for children is important as their bodies develop quickly and change.
  • If you have a family history of eye problems it is always good for regular check-ups.
  • If your child is complaining of regular eye strain or unexplained headaches.
  • If there is any blurred vision after reading for short or prolonged periods.
  • If eyes become dry or itchy easily when reading.

Being able to see in the classroom is critical to learning, so if you suspect an issue do not delay.


Written by: Warren Thompson, LSU Manager at Sparrow Schools.

Tudor Hall School UK, spend October holidays volunteering at Sparrow

The children at Sparrow Foundation School enjoyed a week long visit from 8 students and 2 teachers from the UK during the last week of October. The volunteers who spent a week helping children with their numeracy and literacy during class were from Tudor Hall High School, the oldest boarding school for girls, located in England, UK.

The Tudor Hall girls who spent their October holiday break volunteering at Sparrow, are part of a longer term project, as the school has been supporting and fundraising for Sparrow for the last seven years. Over the years the volunteers from Tudor Hall have contributed to many projects at Sparrow to help improve facilities for the children. Previous projects included a Music project whereby Tudor Hall donated musical instruments, an English project where readers were donated and this year the girls have been fundraising for Sparrow’s new Science classroom, which requires equipment and learning resources for the children’s education.

After a busy day spent helping out in the classrooms and supporting children who required extra 1-2-1 attention, the volunteers spent the afternoons creating reading corners and painting murals from classical stories in three of the early years classrooms. The beautifully painted murals included the Lion King, Jungle Book and Bambi. The children could not wait to see the end results, as the paintings developed in their classroom throughout the week.


Thank you once again for all the volunteers, staff and long term supporters from Tudor Hall who have dedicated their time and energy towards helping Sparrow Schools.

If your school would like to give back to the community and support a worthwhile project, then please get in touch! Sparrow Schools is changing the lives of children with learning difficulties who come from deprived backgrounds and need additional support. Please email lizzie@sparrowschools.co.za for further information.

How you can help your child if you suspect drug abuse

Drug abuse is a serious social problem in South Africa, statistics recognise that drug abuse is even higher among youth. At Sparrow Schools we aim to prevent and stop the abuse. We do so by investigating and provide intervention when we suspect drug abuse.

Because drug abuse can lead to school dropout and other severe social problems we aim to inform parents and guardians about the possible signs and symptoms of drug abuse. Parents and guardians play a significant role in monitoring your child’s behaviour to ensure that they receive help as soon as possible. Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Change in pupil (Dilated or constricted)
  • Red eyes
  • Sudden weight loss

If your child is also showing abrupt changes in their attitude, behaviour, habits and priorities they might be exposed to drug abuse. A more common indicator is if your child is also experiencing financial problems (pocket money often going missing) or start to become involved in criminal activity. From our experience learners experiment with social habits that are not as addictive as synthetic drugs. When the learners experience with these social habits such as ‘Hooka pipe’ ‘hubbly’ they don’t realise that the contents are combined with contraband. In most cases the content is mixed with Heroin or Methamphetamine.

If you suspect that your child could be involved with drug abuse, confront them in a neutral environment. Help your child understand why you are concerned by referring to suspicious behaviour and give them the opportunity to proof their innocence through a urine drug test. These drug tests are available at most pharmacies and is easy to use. As a social worker I encourage a drug-free society and encourage all parents and guardians to intervene if they suspect any abuse. More information on rehabilitation is available from http://www.sancanational.info/.