Writing - Early Writing

Spoken Language

When children join us in EYFS we support them in learning to write in a variety of ways. We are a story-telling school, placing a big emphasis on spoken language and oracy as it underpins the development of both reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are essential to their development and, as such, we ensure that:

  • We model the correct spoken English when communicating
  • We echo back what is said with new vocabulary added (where appropriate)
  • We model, teach, display and practice tier 1, 2 and 3 vocabulary linked to the curriculum
  • We tune into pupil’s play and demonstrate active listening
  • Drama and role-play are commonplace to help pupils develop ideas
  • Trips are purposeful and expose children to new experiences and vocabulary
  • Talk and play are encouraged in EYFS through engaging, well-planned indoor and outdoor learning environments
  • Story time and reading for pleasure takes place daily


Communication requires two foundational skills; listening and understanding. Good attention and listening skills help with all areas of learning particularly; social skills, understanding, ability to follow instructions and overall communication.

We teach listening skills throughout the school however we place a particularly big emphasis on this in EYFS. Teachers explicitly teach and model how to show good listening and we encourage this at all times.

We teach children to:

  • Face the speaker and give good eye contact
  • Listen for non-verbal cues
  • Allow the person to talk without interrupting
  • Give their full attention
  • Listen out for clear prompts to support listening e.g. if someone says your name
  • Look out for non-verbal cues such as objects of reference to support attention or understanding

Pencil Grip

Building up finger strength in EYFS is important to prepare children for early writing - activities such as threading, playdough, puzzles and painting supports this. We also help children to develop fine motor skills to support their grasp, hold and strength through activities like scrunching up paper or using tweezers to pick up shapes. Finally, activities like climbing, throwing and catching support gross motor skills and help to develop core strength for writing.

As children develop their strength they begin to display various pencil grips as seen below:

Cylindrical grasp
(1 – 1 ½ years)
Digital grasp
(2 – 3 years)
Modified tripod grasp
(3 ½ - 4 years)
Tripod grasp
(4 – 5 years)

Attached are some activities you can do at home with your child to support their fine motor skills:

 Age of child  What are they doing? How to support your child at home
 0-2 Generally, 0 to 2 year olds enjoy sensory activities, establishing fun and fascination with shapes, marks, letters and numbers. For example, hide letters and shapes in foamy water. Share books, repeating words, phrases and rhymes. Play finger games like ‘Incy Wincy Spider’. Concentrate on activities that could lead to writing, like making marks with large toys, or with fingers in wet sand.
 2-3 Generally, 2- 3 year olds like retelling favourite stories and events. Capture these through drawing lines, dots and circles. Promote physical development, communication and understanding. If children use a particular dominant hand, encourage them. This age group should learn ‘mark-making’.
 3-4 Generally, 3 to 4 year olds start behaving like writers, making wavy lines and distinct separate marks.

If children show an interest and want to write, it is crucial that they should develop hand and finger strength to hold a chunky crayon or pencil comfortably and with control. Eventually they may be able to make attempts to write some very familiar letters, for example from their name.

If children show an interest in writing letters, you can support them to be ready for the next stage of their learning by encouraging them to hold a pencil correctly and form the letter starting in the right place and moving in the right direction. This will support them to develop good habits for the future.