Writing is an important lifelong skill. Children need to learn to write so they can communicate and express themselves.
Formal writing, taught in reception, involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
In Nursery Parents can provide lots of meaningful opportunities for children to learn about the written word and to support them to understand that symbols carry meaning.
Research shows that for writing to develop, you should provide young children with opportunities to build their physical strength and control in the core, upper body, hands and fingers.
When you read texts, you show that print carries meaning. When you write, you explain what decisions you are making in your mind, so children understand how they share thoughts, ideas and feelings. As you model writing you support children to:
- understand language patterns
- develop their thinking skills
- solve problems
- make sense of their experiences
Listening to children talking and modelling how to write down the words they say helps children to see how sounds become words on paper.
Sharing children’s early mark-making attempts with parents and carers builds children’s confidence and self-esteem.
Parents can help children develop fine motor skills to grasp, hold, and strengthen fingers and thumbs by scrunching paper and using pick-up tools. For example, use big tweezers to pick up plastic shapes.
Give children opportunities to develop core strength and ‘muscle isolation’, a crucial first step towards writing. Activities like reaching across the body to put on socks and shoes help children to use their right, or left, body side without the other side moving at the same time. Also, encourage activities like climbing, throwing and catching.
Children move through stages in their mark making. Gradually muscle control becomes more defined until they develop an ability to use straight lines and curves to form symbols, then moving onto writing recognisable letters in their name and other letters.