For our youngest learners, all forms of mark making and writing, whether independently or supported, is praised and celebrated. We want our little learners to feel engaged, motivated and safe throughout their writing process regardless of their starting points. From our initial assessments with our children, we find that a high percentage require speech and language support. In light of this, our staff have fostered the Talk for Writing scheme. We believe that this scheme exposes our little learners to high quality children's books and supports our children's writing through the use of engaging and multi-sensory teaching approaches. Our children learn how to use sophisticated story language to retell a variety of high quality stories in simple but fun ways. Our children are then carefully supported to transfer their spoken word to paper with careful consideration of their individual capabilities.
Before starting a scheme of work, we spend our first sessions assessing the children's prior knowledge of stories. In order to ensure our children make good progress, it is essential we know their individual starting points. From these initial assessments, we are able to plan future sessions which pick up from what the children already know and teach children the essential skills that will help their writing progress. As our children are at the very beginning stages of their writing process, we ask them to tell us a story using props or through artwork available within the provision. Their spoken story is then recorded on paper, analysed and used to guide future planning. Here are a few examples:
We start every scheme of learning with a 'hook' that is memorable and captures our children's interest and curiosity. Once this has been achieved, the following sessions in this phase are based on supporting the children to internalise a chosen story. We use drama, story time, freeze framing, puppets, story maps and much more to help the children learn a story off by heart as well as its crucial story components and key vocabulary.
Once the children are confident in retelling a story from heart, they now learn how to adapt and change it in simple ways. This can be through changing characters or changing the setting to one of their own but keeping it within the overall plot of the story.
Depending on the children's ability, this is the phase where the children use what they have learnt to create their own stories. It is an opportunity for practitioners to assess the progress made by each child and where they will need support in future schemes of learning. Children may still be at the very beginning stages of writing at this point and may need to tell their story through props, story maps and labels, whereas some children may be able to begin to write their own stories.