Literacy is a Specific Area of Learning.
The statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.
‘It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).’
Learning to read
Before children become readers, they need to be confident communicators with a wide vocabulary and a secure understanding of language. Their listening skills need to have developed so that they can hear the sounds and syllables in words (phonological awareness).
Children’s past experiences will have helped them to understand that print carries meaning, and they will have watched others modelling, enjoying and retrieving information from reading. Extending this knowledge in ways that are fun and meaningful to the children helps them to develop the curiosity to explore the sounds in words (phonemes) and later begin to make the link between the sounds and their corresponding letters (graphemes).
Learning to write
Before children become writers, they need to have been in an environment that supports their understanding of print and to have seen people writing for a range of purposes. Rich opportunities to explore mark-making indoors and outside, will help children to communicate their ideas across all seven areas of learning.
Writing development is also dependent on children’s physical development and particularly on their fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. Long before children have the understanding and motivation to make their first attempts at writing, practitioners should provide activities and experiences that ensure that children have the skills that they need to be successful writers. These include children’s physical skills from throwing balls to rolling play dough, developing their imagination and sequencing skills.
Children need to know how to blend sounds together to form words, to segment words into sounds and to make the link between sounds and their corresponding letters. Above all, they need the confidence to make choices and ‘have a go’, without fear of being wrong.
Communication, Language and Literacy audits
The following audits may assist you in evaluating your provision:
- Communication Week 2022 C&L Audit for PVI settings
- Communication Week 2022 C&L Audit for school settings
- Environmental Rating Scales Institute - ECERS-3
- I CAN’s Communication Supporting Classroom Observation Tool
- National Strategies Communication, Language and Literacy Development audit
- Teacher Rating of Oral Language and Literacy (TROLL)
Education Endowment Foundation
The EEF and Sutton Trust are the government-designated What Works Centre for Education who aim to raise the attainment of 3-18 year olds, particularly those who are disadvantaged.
Early Years Toolkit – Communication and language approaches explains how 6 months progress can be made by promoting communication and language in the setting.
Projects and evaluations This section features results from testing the impact of high-potential projects to generate new evidence of ‘what works’. Select ‘Early Years’ in the search drop down menu.
Guidance Report – Preparing for Literacy This guidance document is part of a series of reports that the EEF produced on the theme of literacy. It focuses on the teaching of communication, language and literacy to children between the ages of three and five.