Hand in hand with learning to read is learning to write. In Reception, learning to write can look like lots of different things and can be found in all the different areas of learning...
When we are singing or learning rhymes we are learning to keep words in our head which helps us when we are thinking what to write and to remember what it is we are writing.
When we are swinging on the rope on the treehouse or rolling the tyres we are building up the shoulder strength needed to become writers.
When we are playing in the role play area we are developing reasons to write, we might need a shopping list or to make a menu for a cafe or a sign to keep out of a building site!
When we are rolling playdough, threading beads, bending pipe cleaners or using lego we are strengthening the muscles in our hands so we can hold and control mark making tools.
When we are painting, printing, splashing water or using chalk we are experimenting with making marks and noticing what happens when we move our hands and arms.
When we are watching adults write we are realising that there are lots of occasions in life when we need to write. This could be a birthday card, a form, a recipe or a note on the fridge.
And finally, when we have access to lots of different surfaces to write or mark make on, lots of different tools to use and wonderful ideas in our heads we can begin to use the letter sounds and shapes we are learning to WRITE! Children have to use an amazing amount of skills and knowledge when they write so we celebrate them as writers.
At school we focus on the skills needed to sound words out and on developing the pencil control to form letters. We teach the precursive text in the pdf below, this skill takes time and children will often form letters incorrectly. This is nothing to worry about. At school we show children how to form the letters correctly and create lots of opportunities for children to write so that over time they develop this skill. As we learn the letter sounds, we send home sheets so that children can practise at home too.
The most important thing is that the children are motivated and confident to write, the perfect handwriting will come later!
Children move through several stages as they learn to hold a pencil correctly for writing and drawing. Have a look at the pictures in the pdf below, I'm sorry about the technical terms but this helps you to see where your child is in their development. At school we support the children as they move along this path, gently encouraging them towards the correct grip. Children all develop at different rates and won't always show all of these different stages.
There are lots of ways you can support your child as they develop their skills for writing.
Lots of physical activity helps to build the muscles needed to write. This can be running around in the park, using the play equipment, helping to hang the washing! Anything that gets them moving (Gross motor skills). You can also help to strengthen hand and fingers muscles (Fine motor skills) to prepare for using a pencil and forming letters by doing anything fiddly. This could be threading pasta, sorting buttons or dried beans, using stickers, pegs, playdough or using a knife and fork. There are some more ideas below.
You can try to provide opportunities to make marks- where you want them!
Drawing- with pencils, pens of different sizes
Water on brushes or from squeezy bottles
In foam, sand or dried lentils
There are more ideas for developing fine motor skills in the Physical Development section of our class page.
You can talk about what you are doing when you write. Why do you need to write it? Where will you start? What will you say? Which letters do you need? And then read what you have written at the end.
Eventually it will be time to support your child in using their fantastic phonic knowledge to form letters and then words. Give them a big cheer and lots of encouragement- they have learnt so much to be able to do this!
Ideas for writing at home
There are lots of ways to encourage your child to write at home. Just as with any learning, this is much more successful if your child is relaxed and happy to engage, having fun as they try out this new skill.
The opportunities for writing are endless. This helps children understand what a key skill it is and one that is worth persevering with. Our aim is that children grow to love this vital skill as it enables them to communicate, organise and express themselves.