At Bowsland Green Primary School, we believe that language and literacy is fundamental to the overall development of the child and enables their access to the curriculum in all its aspects. It is acknowledged that “speaking and listening, together with reading and writing, are prime communication skills that are central to children’s intellectual, social and emotional development” (Rose 2006).
Bowsland Green follows the National Curriculum to enable the delivery of quality first teaching of basic and higher order reading, writing and listening skills and to equip children to become confident and successful in their literacy.
We strive to deliver English in a cross-curricular manner, including through Mantle of the Expert sessions, to enable learning to take place through a source of interest, empathy and fun, relevant to everyday life. By tailoring the content of our learning based on the experiences and interests of each cohort, and ensuring that each unit has a visible outcome that we share with the community, pupils’ writing is supported to be engaging and purposeful.
As educators, we are passionate that writing should be a creative and developmental process both at a functional and an imaginative level. All attempts at writing are valued, and we know that all children have potential to be successful writers. Immersion in reading, talk and preparation for writing is essential to the writing development process.
Helping at home
Although children do lots of literacy-based activities at school (writing, reading, handwriting, phonics), there are also many ways that you can support your child at home. It doesn’t have to be by doing pages and pages as there are lots of ways to make writing fun and meaningful!
Here are a few ideas to help you:
Early Years and KS1
- The basis of good writing is good talk. When you visit places, encourage your child to talk about what has been seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched. Encourage children to share their experiences in as much detail as possible.
- Let children see you being a model writer! Let them see you writing notes, cards or letters to friends or relatives, a shopping list, an article for a magazine or maybe a story or poem for them to enjoy. Let your children see that you are not perfect! Making changes and editing what you write is a natural part of writing.
- Let your child write their own Christmas cards, thank you letters, cards or e-mails to friends or relatives, invitations to a party, a list of things they need to take on holiday, or a record of football results.
- Play word-building games like Boggle or Scrabble. Games like ‘Guess Who’ can also develop their descriptive vocabulary.
- Create silly sentences or tongue twisters using alliteration (a group of words that all begin with the same sound). For example,
Silly Sarah slipped on Sam’s salmon sandwiches.
Monty Mouse marched merrily to the magic mountain.
- Different types and colours of paper, a variety of ‘special’ pens and pencils, envelopes, stampers and various other stationary items can all help to motivate your child to write. Maybe you could even create a special writing corner or area?
- Cut out words from a newspaper or magazine. Can they use the words to write a sentence?
Encourage your child to rehearse their sentence out loud before they write it down.
Always encourage children to punctuate their sentences with a full stop and capital letter.
- Handwriting does not have to be boring; let children practise writing letters in sand, water or paint, or use white boards or blackboards. Pattern books can be fun to do and allow children to practise mark-making. Children can also make letters using playdough, pastry or shaving foam.
- Let children write a small part of your shopping list. Let them be responsible for carrying their list and finding those items when you go to the supermarket.
- Use magnetic letters on the fridge to spell out a message. Encourage your child to write their name, spell words and organise the letters into alphabetical order.
- Engage with their writing through:
- saying what you liked about it
- asking where their ideas have come from
- asking them to show you where a sentence begins and ends
- Help them to organise and sequence their writing by asking them to talk about their ideas or to draw a sequence of simple pictures to show how the main events in a story might be organised.
KS1 and KS2
- Help your child write a letter to their favourite author. Correspondence can often be sent to an author’s publisher (whose details can be obtained on the internet) who will pass it on.
- When you go on holiday, encourage children to write postcards to friends or relatives. They could record things that you do in a holiday diary which they can share with friends or relatives when they get home.
- After making a cake or doing a craft activity, challenge children to write the recipe or instructions for someone else to use.
- Write an information page or booklet about something they find interesting, e.g. spiders, dance, dinosaurs, cats, etc. Draw a picture and label it or write a caption to go with it.
- Encourage your child to learn weekly spellings and phonic group spellings. Write the spellings in sentences with accurate punctuation and practise high-frequency words and handwriting.
- Provide your child with a comfortable place to work and exciting writing materials. A dictionary and thesaurus would also be useful.
- Ask your child what his/her writing targets are from time to time, and help them work specifically on these.
- Talk through their ideas with them before they start to write; for example, prompt them to think about how they intend to tackle a subject.
- Help them to reflect on their writing, particularly the effect they hoped to have on the reader. For example, is the reader sufficiently prepared for the ending? Have they introduced all the characters?
- Encourage them to read through their work, shaping their sentences for clarity and impact and checking their accuracy.
- Share letters and cards from friends and treat their arrival as special events. Show children that you value something that has been written especially for you.
- Read books to, and with, them that are at a higher level than their own reading to expose them to ambitious vocabulary and complex sentence structures.
- Read the beginning of a story and make up the ending together, verbally or in writing.
- Praise your child’s efforts at writing – it’s not an easy thing to do! Focus on a word they spelled correctly, neat handwriting, a good describing word or good use of punctuation. Remember, it is a challenge to get everything right when you are learning!