Element Experiences/ Strategies/ Knowledge
Background/ Theory
  • Globally, the youth literacy rate increased from 83 per cent to 91 per cent over two decades, while the number of illiterate youth declined from 170 million to 115 million (In the 101/159 countries with data) (UNESCO, 2017a).

  • Regional and gender disparities persist. Literacy is lowest in least developed countries and higher among males than females. In the most recent years young women accounted for 59 per cent of the total illiterate youth population (using available data) (UNESCO, 2017a).

  • The 2030 agenda for sustainable development aspires to a world with Universal literacy. Sustainable development goal 4 relates to inclusive and equitable education for all and includes the statement ‘ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy’ (United Nations, 2015).

  • ‘Abundant research evidence indicates a strong association between parents’ education levels and their children’s literacy acquisition. Several studies stress the importance of involving families in literacy programmes by using intergenerational approaches to learning (Brooks et al., 2008; Carpentieri et al., 2011)’ (Hanemann et al., 2017).

  • Play lays the foundation for literacy. Through play children learn to make and practise new sounds. They try out new vocabulary, on their own or with friends, and exercise their imagination through storytelling (NLT, 2017).

  • Hall (1991) recognised links between play and literacy from a number of play studies and summarised these as:

  • Play as a fundamental cognitive activity is preparation for more complex cognitive activities such as literacy.

  • Symbolic behaviour in play is related to the understanding of a representational system like written language.

  • Language behaviour in play is related to literate language.

  • When children are offered play experience with literacy-related resources, they act in literate ways.

Family Learning

This section is taken from Hanemann, 2017.

  • Family learning programmes are designed to encourage family members from different generations to learn together.

  • Successful programmes provide sessions for adults, sessions for children and joint sessions.

  • Adult sessions should include topics that are relevant to them as adults, the development of literacy, numeracy and language practices and information on how to support their children’s learning.

  • In the sessions for children facilitators develop skills through play and structured activities. Activities focus on preparation for school and specific issues in the family and the wider community.

  • Sessions where adults and children learn together are informal and include follow up to activities which took place in separate groups. Rather than leading the activities, the facilitator supports interaction between generations and models positive learning activities.

A love of books and reading
  • Create a space for the sharing of stories

  • Talk about characters and their feelings about stories

  • Encourage discussion and comparison with people from their own experience

  • Encourage children to predict outcomes, to think of alternative endings and to compare story lines to their own experience

  • Model, scaffold and encourage children to use a range of reading strategies

  • Model oral blending and segmenting of sounds

  • Provide story sacks and props

  • Act out stories through role play and provide related print for imaginative play as available e.g. recipe books, maps, signs and labels

  • Display children’s ‘work’ about books

  • Text that allow for following instructions e.g. recipes

  • Story scribing (Gussin-Paley, 1991; Lee, 2015; Ephgrave, 2018)

  • Introduce systematic, synthetic phonics through play and active learning strategies (DfES, 2007)

  • Listen to language by sharing and enjoying a whole range of rhymes, music, songs, poetry

  • Link language with physical movement in action songs and rhymes e.g. clapping, marching, act out, musical instruments

  • Rhyme games e.g. nonsense words

  • Word matching games

  • Introduce systematic, synthetic phonics through play and active learning strategies

Environmental print
  • Create an environment rich in print and provide experiences, opportunities and resources that will enable children to interact with environmental print outside and inside e.g. signs and labels

  • Letter shapes in the environment

  • Word walks inside and outside – searching for print and discussing meaning

Name exploration
  • Children’s names visible in the environment

  • Use familiar children’s names in songs, in stories and use familiar letters in letter hunts, mark making

  • Explore the initial sound of names e.g. matching, finding in texts

  • Make books about the children e.g. our Favourite Foods

  • Compare names e.g. common and different letters, number of letters in names

  • Use names in physical activity e.g. adult holds up a child’s name and they hop/jump

Desire to write
  • Provide opportunities for mark making

  • Model writing for different purposes

  • Alphabet and key words and names are visible to observe and refer to

  • Story scribing (Gussin-Paley, 1991; Lee, 2015; Ephgrave, 2018)

  • Act as a non-specific scribe i.e. writing down what children want to say

  • Use writing in meaningful contexts e.g. naming/labelling work, writing to others

  • Encourage imaginative play that encourage a real purpose for mark making/writing

  • Encourage shared writing opportunities

  • Read children’s writing aloud so that they understand that writing is an important way of communicating

  • Value children’s writing – process is more important than final product

Phonics for reading and writing
  • Introduce systematic, synthetic phonics

  • Provide multisensory synthetic phonics sessions

General sound discrimination activities:

  • listening walks – identifying everyday sounds indoors/outdoors

  • listening to everyday sounds heard behind a screen

  • identifying musical instruments from sound

  • body percussion: singing songs using body sounds (claps, knee pats, foot stamps, etc). Children identify part of body making the sound

  • Rhythm: singing nursery rhymes. Children move in appropriate ways, for example, marching

Use stories to demonstrate phonics as the prime approach to decode words and develop children’s understanding and knowledge about:

  • story settings, events and main characters

  • language patterns of stories

  • simple grammatical structures

  • Rhyming

  • Alliteration

  • using intonation, rhythm and phrasing to make meaning clear to others

  • how to use reading strategies, for example, illustration/contextual clues/phonemes

  • appropriate vocabulary – cover, page

  • the concept of a word

  • linking sounds to letters

Speech sound discrimination activities:

  • Games involving children using voices in different ways and exploring a variety of sounds, for example, using voice, children make happy, sad, high or low sounds

  • songs and rhymes involving different voices and sounds, for example, ‘The Wheels on the Bus’

  • songs involving children identifying children from their voice

  • using voice as a sound accompaniment, for example, adult tells a story and children provide the sound response e.g. sound of the rain, going down a slide, etc