The early years foundation stage (EYFS) is an exciting time for budding young writers – but their literacy development will struggle to flourish without a little confidence.
They may be a few years away from penning their first novel, but the children in your EYFS class are building all of the fine motor skills which will allow those big dreams to happen.
From exaggerated paint brush strokes to circles and dots etched in crayon, children are making their first marks – and broadening their horizons with a whole new form of expression.
As the seed of blossoming writing skills, every teacher will be keen to encourage a sense of creative initiative, which encourages further skills to grow. But how do you instil confidence in a whole class of children, when they are all so profoundly different in style, ability and enthusiasm?
No doubt you’ll have a few tricks up your sleeve, and lots of success stories to share; but what about your trickier examples, where a child simply doesn’t respond well to tasks involving pencils and paper?
Chances are, they just need a little extra assurance. Here’s our top 4 tips to help them build creative confidence.
Visualisation is more important than validity.
Child-lead activities are rarely without meaning. Those shapes in the sand pit have a story to tell, whether the child is choosing to share it with you or not!
By the age of three to five, most children should have the confidence to try forming pictures and letters, on whatever medium takes their fancy – be it paper, water or even playground soil. By encouraging them to experiment, just for the sake of seeing what happens, children are getting all-important practice to facilitate improvement; without even noticing.
Those who receive positive reinforcement, no matter what they produce, are more willing to try again and again. So, keep up the praise – even if you can’t *quite* figure out the context!
Make writing tools available throughout the classroom.
Many EYFS classrooms have a designated ‘writing area’ and, although there’s certainly no harm in it, it can take away the spontaneity that a lot of children need in order to naturally develop; children who aren’t naturally drawn to paper and pencils may just avoid it completely.
Placing a wide range of writing surfaces and tools throughout the classroom will allow children to get involved on a whim – and often in play. After all, how can you impulsively write a “KEEP OUT” sign for monsters, unless you just so happen to be stood next to a pot of crayons?
Get together in a storybook circle.
Has a child enjoyed a good bedtime story this week? How about a book you read aloud to the class?
By getting together in small groups, children can develop the confidence to start discussing literature, no matter how it was initially presented to them.
Try taking the conversation further than just a retelling; would the children change any part of the story, if they were the author? What would happen if the story had continued for another page?
Decorate the classroom with SPaG visuals.
If you’re creating an environment which encourages spontaneous writing, clear SPaG displays will mean children aren’t restricted by their memories alone.
By providing visual tools, children can proactively seek out the information they need (such as letters and words) to express themselves more precisely. The focus may not be on accurate writing at this stage, but why not let the children develop greater competence, if they feel confident enough to try?
It’s all about choice!
Mighty Writer can help to build confidence in EYFS literacy, while still honouring your personal teaching experience.
Using a large story mat, Mighty Writer allows children to use a wide range of themed images, sentence openers, conjunctions and symbols, in order to create a story.
Teachers can demonstrate each part of the writing process, while focusing the learning with visual aids. All the while, children can lead the way with their own creativity – purely with pictures if they choose, but still building up the complexity as they naturally progress.
Mighty Writer is a classroom tool which grows with the children, supporting writing skills as they change and mature. Allowing more complex and structured sentences as ability develops, children’s literacy is transformed – almost overnight.
About the author
Emma Ralph was an Assistant Head Teacher at Hillbourne Primary School in Poole, where she helped to improve the school’s literacy standards. Spotting a gap in the market for a literacy resource which taught children the fundamentals of punctuation, vocabulary and sentence structure in a visual, fun and engaging way, Emma developed her own product: Mighty Writer. It is now transforming the literacy of tens of thousands of children in over 550 schools around the world.