There are many elements to master to become a writer!
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), a child’s development in the prime areas is crucial for the development of writing:
Physical development - ensuring children have developed their gross and fine motor skills so they are able to hold/manipulate mark-making tools
In EYFS, children enjoy ‘Funky Fingers’ sessions which are aimed at supporting pencil grip by developing joint movement and muscle strength. Children take part in a variety of small group activities including ‘Dough Gym’ with music, threading, hand-eye coordination and movement with pom-poms and ribbons.
There are further opportunities to develop fine and gross motor skills and coordination through planning in both the inside and outside learning environments. During Reception Phonics lessons, we plan for opportunities to practise writing the corresponding grapheme for the phoneme being taught that day, which is done in a variety of ways e.g. air writing, using whiteboards, using chalk on the playground.
Communication and Language - Before you can be a writer, you have to be a talker! You have to know what you want to say, how to say it, which words to use and how to phrase it correctly before you can write it down.
Our play based learning environment ensures that there are many opportunities for talking. Staff model language, pose questions and encourage children to talk about their ideas. Children are taught how to be a good listener and children engage in daily phase 1 phonics activities, which further develop listening skills. As children develop their listening skills they will also be able to differentiate between the sounds in words which is very important for decoding/blending in reading and segmenting in writing. As children learn their letters and sounds and they are able to write words phonetically and eventually write sentences.
In order to master writing, children need to understand the usefulness of writing – why we do it, what its purpose is and why it is important. This links closely to the Prime area of Personal, Social and Emotional development. At school, children see purposeful writing such as: signs, logos, labels through the environment and staff model purposeful writing. Our learning environment provides opportunities to ‘have a go’ at writing anywhere and everywhere using a variety of different implements and different papers and surfaces. In having a go, writing holds relevance and purpose to children, as it is child initiated and has value and meaning.
Key Stage 1:
Throughout Key Stage 1 the children’s learning journey as a writer continues. We build upon the solid foundations that were gained in the EYFS and the children progress through phases 3 to 5 in their phonics to learn a wide range of alternative spellings for the phonemes already taught. They also learn how to use a variety of different punctuation and grammar to create the desired effect in their writing depending upon the purpose e.g. how to use question and exclamation marks, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. We also continue to extend their vocabulary through a range of learning opportunities e.g. whole class reading, continuous provision, daily story times, English sessions and speaking and listening activities. Through our writing we work on ensuring all letters are formed correctly and are clear to read, and when the children are ready we support them in developing a neat cursive writing style.