Writing in Early Years
As stated in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, there are seven areas of learning and development which shape the educational setting. Writing is a key area of not only ‘literacy’, but also ‘physical development’ and ‘communication and language’. In fact, it links to the whole curriculum in the Early Years at Earlsfield, where provision is made through ‘enabling environments’ (as recommended in the Statutory Framework).
In Nursery, there is a combination of child-initiated and adult-led activities to develop the skills required for writing. These include practising fine and gross motor skills through a range of exciting resources; phonic sessions to teach sounds and letter formations through the Read Write Inc scheme; and guided writing sessions which link to the exciting curriculum topics.
Individual letters are taught in handwriting sessions which take place twice a week. Children practise the letter formations in phonic sessions as well, which take place four times a week.
Other writing objectives are taught in literacy lessons, through whole class introductions and small group work with a teacher or TA. These literacy lessons link to the exciting topics planned for the year.
There are also small ‘catch up’ groups throughout the week, where a teacher or TA can focus on the individual learning needs of certain children. Examples of these groups are: fine motor skills, phonics and handwriting.
In the Early Years, a stimulating and varied environment is set up inside and outside the classroom, which engages children and encourages them to initiate writing at their level. Inside, children may choose to draw, paint, trace, and write during independent learning sessions, in the role play areas or at the writing table. Writing equipment is rotated regularly. Outdoor writing takes on numerous forms, for example, through role-play areas (writing menus in an outdoor café, drawing plans using clipboards for a construction site); drawing pictures on outdoor blackboards, whiteboards, or with chalks on the ground; tracing patterns and shapes in sand, salt, or shaving foam in tuff spots.
What would you see in an Early Years writing lesson?
- Children developing fine and gross motor skills through a range of child-initiated and adult-led activities, such as practising the tri-pod pencil grip, tracing patterns in sand, creating shapes with ribbons and body exercises to improve core strength and coordination
- Children being taught letter formation using the Read Write Inc letter stories
- Writing activities linked with the exciting curriculum topics providing children with a strong purpose and passion for their work
- Targeted teaching at the level of the individual child, providing support and challenge where appropriate
- Sharing and celebrating work with adults and peers
- Exciting and child-friendly resources (eg coloured salt, chalks, pens taped to cars, ribbons, clipboards)
Writing in Years 1 - 6
At Earlsfield we follow The Power of Reading by The CLPE (The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) Writing is taught through high quality books
It aims to engage and motivate children in their literacy learning and also enables children to deepen their understanding of texts and provides a meaningful context for writing. How are the texts used?
Quality texts are used as the basis for learning over several weeks. Children explore and discuss the text through creative activities. They also write in a range of genres as part of the unit. For example they might write a letter in role as a character or write a newspaper recount about the events in the text.
We endeavour to link texts and film to our topics where it is appropriate. For instance, Year 6 uses Floodland and Letters from the Lighthouse as they have strong links to the topics studied: WW2 and Human impact on Rivers and Oceans. Year 5 use Street Child and Odysseus as these link to the topics of Monarchy and Democracy. Tenuous links are not considered, as the main intent is that the children are exposed to high quality, vocabulary rich texts. These texts have been chosen using the CLPE’s Power of Reading recommended texts as well as teacher knowledge. The book choices are fluid and can be changed to meet the needs of the cohort.
Planning is top down meaning that we plan with the most able children in mind and provide scaffolds for those children who need it to achieve the expected outcome. Challenges are offered to all children or sometimes to specific children based on teacher knowledge. A typical week’s planning would look like this, however this is not rigid; our teachers are encouraged to be flexible and creative and plan to suit their children and desired outcomes:
|1||Spelling and Grammar|
|2-3||These lessons are used to ensure that the children have enough knowledge of the genre in which they are being asked to write and also enough knowledge of the text or film they are studying.|
|4||Short or extended writing. Children at Earlsfield are expected to produce a piece of writing weekly which they will have planned for. This will be the culmination of the previous 3 lessons. A range of genres are expected to be covered throughout the year with the children showing increased confidence in each of the genres and band statements for their year group.|
|5||Continuation of extended writing if required and/or editing or redrafting. All children are expected to respond to any teacher feedback that is given using their purple editing pens where appropriate to their age and ability|