Supporting Reception literacy

Two young girls writing

Literacy in the Reception year is more complex than just learning to read and write. This is a vital time for your child to develop their speaking and listening skills as well as building their language confidence and understanding. There will also be ample opportunities in class for mark making and writing.


When your child first comes home with a reading scheme book it may be tempting to try and whip through the pages as quick as you possibly can. However, it is vital that a child learns to read at their own pace. It is also important that the child understands what they have read, whether this is in word or picture form.

Reading is more than just memorising words, comprehension is needed so that your child begins to understand what words actually mean and how they fit together in a sentence. Only this way will they develop their own oral literacy skills and begin to be able to clearly express themselves.

Support your child by asking them to recount the story or by asking them questions about the characters or words. You can also ask them what they think about the story and why they like/dislike it.


Early writing is about children talking and then making marks. This means that most of children's early writing is often 'scribble'. They may tell us that they are 'writing' a shopping list, but what we might actually see are lines or circles.

This doesn't matter as the key thing is that children are learning about the process of writing. In terms of seeing legible words, the chances are that the first word will be your child's name at around four years.

Some children produce their name earlier than others, but early name writing does not necessarily herald a budding writer. Writing really gets going when children start learning to read. At this point they start to work out what sounds they need to make words. This means that many children will be around six before they write full sentences unaided. Children who do this earlier are often doing extremely well with their reading.

Helping your child with writing

The main thing that will help your child with writing is watching you writing or writing together.

And it's also helpful if your child is speaking well - if a child doesn't have words, there is nothing for them to write. Working on your child's speech will also help with their reading.

For writing to become an easy and natural activity, young children need to understand the reason they are doing it. You can encourage your child by asking them to write shopping lists for you, taking phone messages or writing a reminder on a Post-it note and then sticking it on the fridge. Only you may be able to read their writing but they will understand what you're going to use it for.

Another good way to encourage writing is to write letters, postcards or thank you notes together.


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Last updated: 2 months ago