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Literacy

Reading

Reading is fundamental in the early years at Brackenhill Primary School, serving as a cornerstone of academic success and personal growth. The ability to read not only unlocks a world of knowledge and imagination but also lays the foundation for lifelong learning and critical thinking skills.

In the early years, children are at a crucial stage of language development, where they are rapidly acquiring vocabulary and linguistic structures. By fostering a love for reading from an early age, Brackenhill Primary School nurtures children’s language skills, comprehension, and literacy abilities. Stories and rhymes are shared regularly with our youngest pupils to address both the language deficit they come into school with and the cultural differences within our school community. Pupils vote between 2 carefully pre-selected stories each day which are to be shared with the class and this combined with book hooks, Library afternoons and partaking in activities centred around core texts as part of thematic learning, all contribute towards creating a culture of ‘Love of Reading’. Children also enjoy listening to stories written by our ‘Author in the Spotlight’ each half term and get to know a bank of stories well, being able to retell them with confidence. Books in provision are regularly rotated and replenished and children access stories in a variety of formats. The school has also invested in books in other languages and from other cultures, and parents then share this love of reading at home.

Reading in the early years is not just about decoding words on a page; it’s about building essential literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension. Through interactive read-alouds, guided reading sessions, and literacy-rich environments, children at are exposed to a diverse range of texts and genres that cater to their individual interests and abilities. Furthermore, as reading promotes cognitive development by stimulating imagination, creativity, and critical thinking, when children engage with stories, they learn to make connections, infer meaning, and analyse characters and plot structures, fostering higher-order thinking skills that are essential for academic success. Reading enhances their social and emotional development by providing opportunities for empathy, perspective-taking, and emotional regulation. Through discussions about characters’ feelings and experiences, children develop their social skills and emotional intelligence, laying the groundwork for positive relationships and effective communication.

At Brackenhill Primary School, reading is not just a skill; it’s a gateway to a lifelong journey of discovery and learning. By instilling a passion for reading in the early years, we empower children to become confident, competent readers who are equipped to succeed academically and thrive in an ever-changing world.

Useful information for parents and carers

Click on any of the pictures featured in the document below to listen to the author read from their story!

https://alittlebutalot.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/picture-books-digital-library.pdf

Writing

Writing opportunities are also provided for children across the whole of early years.  Children begin by working on their fine motor skills through ‘funky finger’ activities and also by partaking in dough disco. This allows them to develop their muscles and then acquire a secure pencil grasp as well as pencil control. Children then move onto mark-making using various mediums including paint, chalk, sand and foam etc. and as they move from early emergent writing to transitional/fluent writing stages, they are also provided with lots of opportunities to experiment with marks before they begin to ascribe meaning to them in a way which can also be understood by others. The Scribble Club and Drawing Club approach further support children to not only develop in their comprehension but in language acquisition and expansion of vocabulary, as demonstrated through the work they produce.

Writing is regarded as a vital skill that lays the groundwork for academic achievement and personal expression. Through various writing activities and experiences, children develop essential literacy skills, communication abilities, and cognitive processes that are crucial for their future success. First and foremost, writing in the early years facilitates the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. As children learn to hold a pencil, form letters, and create shapes on paper, they are refining their motor control and dexterity, which are fundamental for tasks ranging from handwriting to everyday activities like tying shoelaces or using utensils.

Beyond the physical aspect, writing fosters language development by providing opportunities for children to express their thoughts, ideas, and experiences in written form. Whether it’s scribbling, drawing, or attempting to write letters and words, children at Brackenhill Primary School are encouraged to engage in meaningful writing experiences that reflect their interests and abilities.  At Brackenhill Primary School, writing is not simply seen as a task to be mastered but as a powerful tool for self-expression, communication, and learning. By providing a supportive and engaging environment where children can explore and develop their writing skills, we empower them to become confident, competent writers who are equipped to succeed academically and flourish as individuals.

Here’s how we cultivate writing skills in our youngest learners:

  1. Play-Based Learning: We believe that children learn best through play. Writing activities in the EYFS are integrated into playful and purposeful experiences that capture children’s interests and imaginations. From mark-making in sand trays to writing stories during role-play sessions, every opportunity is seized to foster a love for writing.
  2. Building Fine Motor Skills: Before children can write letters and words, they need to develop the fine motor skills necessary for holding and controlling a pencil. At Brackenhill, we provide a range of activities such as threading beads, finger painting, and using tweezers to pick up small objects, all of which help to strengthen hand muscles and improve coordination.
  3. Mark-Making: Mark-making is the first step towards writing. Children are encouraged to explore different tools and materials for making marks, whether it’s with crayons, chalk, paintbrushes, or their fingers. These early scribbles and drawings lay the foundation for later writing skills and help children understand that their marks carry meaning.
  4. Emergent Writing: As children become more confident with mark-making, they start to experiment with writing letters, words, and simple sentences. Adults provide support and encouragement, guiding children as they learn to recognise letters, understand their sounds, and begin to form words independently.
  5. Purposeful Writing Opportunities: Throughout the EYFS, children are given plenty of opportunities to engage in purposeful writing activities. Whether it’s writing labels for their artwork, making lists for a pretend shop, or writing letters to their friends, writing is integrated into everyday experiences, making it meaningful and relevant to children’s lives.
  6. Celebrating Progress: At Brackenhill, we celebrate every step of the writing journey. Children’s achievements, no matter how small, are celebrated and acknowledged. This positive reinforcement encourages children to take pride in their writing and motivates them to continue developing their skills.

Through a combination of play, exploration, and purposeful activities, we strive to instil a love for writing in our young learners and equip them with the skills and confidence they need to become competent and enthusiastic writers as they progress through their educational journey.

Useful information for parents and carers

Early Years Emily – Get kids ready for writing with play dough! Strengthen little fingers and hands whilst boogie-ing to music 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/@EarlyYearsEmily

GOV.UK – Physical development Fine Motor Skills

https://help-for-early-years-providers.education.gov.uk/physical-development/fine-motor-skills#why-fine-motor-skills-are-important

Hands-on play and developmentally age-appropriate activities to support with muscle building for writing

https://www.growinghandsonkids.com/about-me

Left handedness

Help for left handed children, their parents and teachers

https://lefthandedchildren.org/

https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/features/article/learning-and-development-left-handed-children-side-effects

Phonics

Pupils are taught phonics sessions that are targeted specifically to their needs allowing them to make progress leading to improved attainment. Phonics workshops are made available to parents so they remain informed throughout and information relating to this is shared via the school website & SchoolPing. This allows our parents and carers to employ the same strategies used in school at home and keeps them informed on various ways in which they can support their child with reading beyond this parameter.

Early phonics (Phase 1) is introduced in Nursery and activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body percussion, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting. Pupils who reach the final stage swiftly move onto accessing the Read Write Inc. (RWI) phonics scheme in preparation for phonics in Reception. Employment of the RWI phonics scheme in Reception and beyond also ensures books are well matched to pupils’ phonics understanding and ability, with a consistent approach to the teaching of phonics across school.

Here’s why RWI phonics is considered so important:

  1. Foundation for Reading and Writing: RWI phonics focuses on teaching children the relationship between sounds and the letters that represent them. By learning phonics, children acquire the foundational skills needed to decode words and spell accurately. This sets them on the path to becoming proficient readers and writers.
  2. Systematic and Structured Approach: RWI phonics follows a carefully sequenced program, starting with the simplest sounds and gradually introducing more complex ones. This systematic approach ensures that children build their phonics knowledge in a logical and incremental manner, leading to greater confidence and success.
  3. Early Reading Success: By teaching children to sound out words using phonics, RWI enables them to read independently at an early age. This early reading success not only boosts children’s confidence and motivation but also lays the foundation for future academic achievement.
  4. Differentiated Instruction: RWI phonics is designed to meet the diverse needs of all learners. The program includes resources and strategies for supporting children who may be struggling with phonics as well as challenging those who are ready to progress more quickly. This ensures that every child receives the support they need to succeed.
  5. Integration of Speaking and Listening Skills: In addition to decoding words, RWI phonics emphasizes the development of speaking and listening skills. Through interactive activities such as partner reading and storytelling, children at Brackenhill Primary School not only learn to read and write but also develop their oral communication skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  6. Consistency and Continuity: RWI phonics provides a consistent approach to teaching phonics across the early years curriculum. This continuity ensures that children receive a coherent and comprehensive phonics education as they progress through the school, laying the groundwork for continued success in literacy.

Overall, phonics plays a crucial role in the early years at Brackenhill Primary School by providing children with the essential skills, strategies, and confidence they need to become proficient readers and writers. By investing in high-quality phonics instruction, we empower our students to unlock the joys of literacy and achieve their full potential academically and beyond.

Useful information for parents and carers

Ruth Miskin Training – Films for Parents and Carers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbWIujM1WGM&list=PLDe74j1F52zSCiOMSn3zQDSzgu9TrbQ1c 

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