Regular readers of the newsletter will know how much importance we place on play-based learning in Foundation Stage and KS1, but what some people might not realise is how play supports academic development in areas such as writing. In this week’s newsletter Mrs Meg and Mrs Jo share what they are doing to promote writing in the Foundation Stage.
Writing Skills in Early Years
The early years are a very important time for children to develop their pre-writing skills. These are the skills which we use for the rest of our lives when we write, but to adults they may not actually look like writing.
To be able to write, children need to have good strength in their legs, core (tummies) and arms, so one of the things we allow the children to do is to lift and throw, climb and swing, and push. Did you know that pretending to be a monkey on the Terra Nova helps a child to write!
Another skill is speaking so they can communicate their thoughts. How is this writing? Writing is communicating and to be able to communicate, speaking is the most efficient and natural way. When children can communicate verbally, their written communication is easier to follow.
Holding pencils and pens are very important, but equally important are using toys which help strengthen the hand muscles and fine motor control. So you will see things in the classrooms and outside which help children to grip, pinch their fingers together such as playdough or tweezers.
It is important that children also see adults write, and when they see us write it is usually for a purpose. Therefore we allow them to develop their writing skills in purposeful ways, such as writing their names on labels, making marks to write shopping lists, writing cards for Christmas.
Developing Writing Skills further in Reception
Writing a story is one of the most creative and fun things a child can do, but it is also one of the most difficult to master. In Reception, we have begun to use an approach called Helicopter Stories. Helicopter Stories is an Early Years, Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 approach to communication and literacy skills, based on storytelling and story acting as a way to harness children's imagination and support their creativity. Children are asked if they have a story to tell and the teacher will sit next to the child and write it down exactly as the child says it. The children then gather around a taped out stage and the stories are acted out later that day. This approach develops many areas of learning that are vitally important for children to become confident writers further up the Primary school.
Supports the development of speaking skills as children express and share their ideas;
Helps to develop accurate, active listening skills and understanding;
Supports co-operative and collaborative and creative learning;
Develops positive relationships within a shared storytelling experience;
Allows children to explore early literacy and the power of words as they see their stories come to life, and develop their ability to use and adapt language to communicate;
Offers children a bridge into the world of creative writing as they begin to see the links between the oral stories they compose and the words on a page.
As the year progresses, we will begin to ask the children to help us write some of the words in their story, and this will help to give them a purpose for their writing.