The teaching of writing
In Nursery and Reception, children are given the opportunity to 'make marks' on paper, post-it notes, clipboards, notelets, envelopes and a variety of different types of paper in the Writing Area. There are also opportunities to write in other areas, such as outdoors or in the role play area, for example 'writing' a shopping list in the Supermarket, recording patient details in the Doctor's Surgery or keeping a list of Birds that have been spotted in the 'Hide'. Children are encouraged to see writing as purposeful, fun and creative, and to mark make in as many different contexts as possible. A wide variety of activities that develop fine motor control, such as threading, cutting and using playdough tools, help children develop the skill and strength they need to become writing ready. Children in Nursery are encouraged to develop a correct pencil grip and to begin writing their own names if and when they are ready to do so.
In Reception, children are taught how to form each letter correctly as the corresponding sound is introduced, as part of the Letters and Sounds program. They learn how to segment (separate) simple words into their separate sounds, starting with CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words such as 'mat' and 'pig'. First they are encouraged to hear the separate sounds, then to select the corresponding letter cards or tiles, and finally to write the corresponding graphemes (letters). As the year progresses, Reception children are taught to write simple sentences, using their phonic knowledge to help them 'have a go' and become brave writers. Throughout the year, they continue to be given daily opportunities to practice making letters with pencils, pens and i-pads, and other materials such as chalk, paintbrushes, playdough and shaving foam.
From Year One upwards, children are shown models of writing in their Literacy lessons that they can base their own writing upon. This will initially take the form of familiar stories based on everyday subjects, such as 'The Tiger who came to tea', or 'Whatever Next', or Traditional tales and Fairy Stories. Children are encouraged to use the language and structure of these stories to make up stories of their own, with different characters or settings. As they progress up the school, they are expected to become more independent writers, using more extended sentence structures and more complex fiction and non-fiction genres, and being given more opportunities to use the spelling patterns and punctuation that they are taught in their daily Spelling and Punctuation lessons.
From Year One, children are given weekly spellings of High Frequency words to learn, or words with similar spelling patterns, and these are tested in class. They are asked to put them into sentences so that they can practise using them in context. As they get older, their teachers might also give them challenges to incorporate into their sentences, such as to use certain adjectives or adverbial phrases, or to practise certain aspects of punctuation such as exclamation marks or speech marks. All pupils are expected to use dictionaries to check their work, or to help them write independently, and opportunities to write are given in all subject areas.
We use the Cambridge University Press Penpals Handwriting Scheme, and joined Handwriting is taught formally from Year One.