Writing at Finchingfield

Preparing our young writers

Preparing children to write begins long before they can pick up a pencil and write their first words. It requires developing the foundational skills children need to both read and write. These essential pre-writing skills include auditory and visual discrimination, oral fluency, fine and gross motor skills and phonemic awareness. 

Phonemic awareness is crucial for both reading and writing and requires children to understand that words are made up of individual sounds or phonemes. This requires our children engaging in activities that refine their senses so that they can hear differences in sounds which is vital for distinguishing between similar-sounding letters and words and notice the differences and similarities between shapes, patterns, letters and words.

Developing oral fluency

Oral fluency is the ability to speak smoothly, clearly, and with appropriate pacing which is essential for effective communication and lays the groundwork for reading and writing fluency. Strategies to improve oral fluency include:

Mark making

Mark making refers to the creation of different patterns, lines, and textures on a surface, typically as part of early childhood development. It is a fundamental precursor to writing. Activities that promote these skills include:

Gross Motor Coordination

Gross motor skills involve large movements of the arms, legs, and torso, while fine motor skills involve more precise movements, typically of the hands and fingers. Both are critical in the development of writing abilities. Strong gross motor skills provide the stability needed for fine motor activities. 

Proper postural control allows a child to sit up straight and maintain the proper position for writing. The strength and coordination of the shoulders and arms are necessary to support the movements of the hand and fingers.

This support enables more controlled and sustained writing efforts.

Fine Motor Coordination

Fine motor skills allow for the precise control needed to form letters and shapes accurately. Good hand-eye coordination is essential for aligning marks on the page and maintaining consistent size and spacing.

Skills such as gripping a pencil, manipulating objects, and performing detailed hand movements are developed through activities that enhance fine motor coordination.

The ability to grip a writing instrument correctly and manipulate it with the fingers is crucial for effective writing. Strength and dexterity in the fingers enable fluid and controlled writing movements.

Fine motor activities are notessential in the early years to help children develop the small muscles in their hands, fingers, and wrists. These activities are crucial for tasks such buttoning clothes, using utensils and scissors as well as writing.

Moveable alphabet

Children learn to trace sandpaper letters with their fingers helping learn the shapes and sounds of the alphabet. This multisensory approach helps reinforce the connection between the letter shape and its corresponding sound. Alongside learning the letter shapes and sounds introduced in our phonic reading programme, children are introduced to the The Moveable Alphabet. 

This piece of equipment is a foundational tool in the Montessori language curriculum and allows children to experiment with word construction and encoding before they have developed the fine motor skills required for writing with a pencil. The Moveable Alphabet allows children to build words before they can write them, reinforcing phonetic awareness and word construction.

Progression and sentence mastery

As children become more confident, they start to form simple sentences using the Moveable Alphabet. This activity enhances their understanding of sentence structure and grammar. Over time, children transition from using the Moveable Alphabet to writing with pencils. The skills developed through manipulating the letters help them when they start to write words and sentences on paper.

Pre-determined phrases and sentences that children learn through oral rehearsal correlates with progression and sequences of sounds and common exception words they are taught in our phonics instruction. This reinforces the importance of oral rehearsal and sentence contruction. This approach is highly systematic and ensure children achieve a high level of success before children embark on constructing their own sentences. 

Developing authorship

Once children have these building blocks they are then asked to write sentences using their taught knowledge and writing unknown words in a phonetically plausible way. Pictorial stimulus is used. Teachers skilfully model the writing process and think out aloud so that children internalise the processes writers go through as they write. Children are also given opportunities to apply and practise writing through enhanced provision e.g. role play areas, chalk boards etc. 

Correct letter formation is taught alongside children learning to write using the alphabet although children are not held back if they lack the fine motor control to correctly form letters. Capitals are taught alongside lower case.

Children not ready for letter formation engage in activities to refine fine motor skills in readiness for the tripod grip needed to write with a pencil. Children are not taught to write their name until they are ready to do so.

As children progress through the school, they are exposed to different genres and are taught their characteristic features. This includes literary devices, grammar, punctuation and spelling. This is systemically planned to ensure children build on prior learning and become increasingly more sophisticated in their writing. We adopt an instructional approach whereby teachers model the writing process, teach specific skills and techniques and then give the children opportunities to write.


Teaching spelling according to the National Curriculum involves a structured approach that builds progressively as students advance through different stages of their education. 

Key Stage 1 (Ages 5-7)

Phonics and Early Spelling

Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-11)

Spelling Rules and Patterns

Grammar and Punctuation

Teaching grammar and punctuation in alignment with the national curriculum involves a structured approach that ensures students develop a solid understanding of language mechanics. Here are the key components to consider when teaching grammar and punctuation according to the national curriculum guidelines, typically in the context of the UK:

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 (Ages 5-7)

Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-11)