What is Early Years Literacy?

When we say Early Years Foundation Literacy, what we really mean is reading and writing.

To help make sense of this stage in a child's learning, we've condensed and reflected on the two relevant National Curriculum 'Early Learning Goals' below. 


Progress made in oral fluency at a young age will often correlate with higher abilities and better reading comprehension at a later age. Reading is the next early learning goal, and by year 1 children might...

...read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They [might] also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Reading simple sentences is all very well. But how? Children with emergent reading skills will begin to use a variety of cues to understand stories. Importantly, at this age children are developing their phonic knowledge (the print version of sounds eg. sh, ch, t, oo, ou...). However, reading is much more than just making noise. Children should use pictures, reading on and reading back and at this age will be building up their 'sight vocabulary'. All this leads to improved fluency, rhythm, and most importantly, understanding.

The best way to encourage a child's reading will vary depending on their age and their ability, but some options include modelled reading, shared reading and guided reading along with the many different permutations of questioning and discussing that can happen during and after reading. It can seem like a mine-field, so do have a look at our resources section to get specific tips on exactly how to read with your child.

Is she really reading that book? Looks a little hard doesn't it...

Is she really reading that book? Looks a little hard doesn't it...

The curs-ed cursive...

The curs-ed cursive...


There are two stages of development which precede writing. Before a child picks up a pencil they should have the freedom to develop gross motor skills (moving arms, dancing, running, stretching, lifting and placing objects) and opportunities to develop fine motor skills (using scissors, popping bubble wrap, squeezing and twisting hand moves). Once children have developed strength in these areas they can start to have fun mark making using any media that they are able to use (maps, drawing, colouring, copying, dot-to-dot).

Eventually simple mark making will begin to be linked to the sounds of speech and children will develop a sense that marks can convey feelings and meaning. 

...using their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

The length of time that the matching of phonemes to phonics takes can really vary from child to child, but exposure to as many fun as accessible texts as possible and leaving pens and paper around the house can really help at this age. For more ideas on encouraging writing at this age have a look at our resources page.

Need to ask us a specific question about the Early years learning ? Or just want to talk to someone free of charge about your child's situation? Get in contact and we'll schedule a free telephone consultation.

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