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Learning at Home - Top tips!

Developing writing skills - 'mark making'

In Nursery, we spend a lot of time encouraging the skills for early writing ( and we call this 'mark making'). These skills develop gradually over time with practice and help prepare the children for the more formal skills of writing in Reception.

At this age, the children are all at different stages with their mark making skills and will be showing different levels of interest. We know that we want all of the children to enjoy opportunities to mark make and become confident and excited about developing their skills.

As you might be wanting to support these skills at home, it may be useful to remember these points -

  • Being physically active promotes the muscular strength and control that is needed for writing - e.g. throwing / catching skills, balancing activities, working with bats and balls, participating in simple 'workout' activities.
  • Holding and working with a range of different tools (e.g. chalks, paintbrushes, children's scissors, pens, pencils, markers) helps your child to build their finger strength and offering a variety of tools helps to maintain their interest!
  • Making different marks on paper (in play activities) helps to develop the control needed for letter formation. (e.g. straight lines up/ down or side to side, zig zag lines, curved lines, wavy lines, spirals, circles). These are the range of movements they will use later when writing letter shapes.
  •  Having fun in these activities will encourage the children to return to them again. Working on these skills for a short period of time on a regular basis is the most effective way to support your child.

Talking together

  • Talking together is a fundamental part of your child's learning. It is a simple yet powerful way of developing language, vocabulary and skills of conversation - all of which are essential for your child as they start their school life. Strong and secure language skills have been shown to have a positive and significant impact  on later learning.
  • If we talk with our child about daily life - what we are doing / watching / thinking - then we are modelling / showing them the language that they need to share their thoughts / ideas / plans and opinions. 
  • Involving the children in conversations allows them to develop their skills and use the words/ sentences as they are ready.


Top tips to  help develop your child's spoken  language :

  • Always take time to listen to what they are saying and then in your response -
    •  rephrase what they are saying to model it back in the correct way (e.g. 'I goed to the shop' - 'Yes, you went to the shop didn't you?' )
    • Make sure that we highlight the smaller words as we are talking - these are just as important but often get missed out.(e.g. 'He like eat cake.'  - 'He likes to eat his cake - you are right - he's eating a cupcake I think.')
    • Try to add something new in our response - a new idea or a new word to help develop their language learning. (e.g. My daddy's gone to work - 'Yes, he works in an office and spends lots of time working on the computer.'


A broad vocabulary helps you child to understand new ideas and concepts that they will need to learn as they enter school. We can help develop this vocabulary by 'talking about words' in our everyday life.

  • We can use new words in our talking and check that the children understand.
  • We can talk about words sounding interesting and show the children how adults also learn new words in our day to day life.
  • By talking about words the children will learn that new words are a good thing to listen to and learn about. This is a skill they will  then carry into school.

Examples -

Emotions - rather than  just using 'happy / sad' - we could talk about feeling upset / disappointed / frightened / nervous / excited / shy  / amazed etc

Descriptive words - bumpy / uneven    soft / hard     multi-coloured /patterned / plain     fast / slow      heavy / light      dirty / clean    old / new    shiny / dull     … and so the list goes on!


And finally...

Encourage your child to ask questions  - this is an important skill and it is how they show an interest in their own learning. We know that it can be tiring at times, but it is a skill to be encouraged and, by engaging in conversation, we know we are  supporting learning as the children are interested and ready to listen - it was their question after al!





Just a few tips...

After a few days at home, we hope you are settling a little into this new pattern of daily life.

We just wanted to share a few things about learning at home ....


  • We will continue to put ideas on this page for you to try, however they are certainly not better or more important than your own activities. You know your child best and following their interests will be the best way for them to learn. In truth, If they are engaged and enjoying an activity with you, then they will be learning.


  • Spending time talking together, giving opportunities for your child to hear / learn new vocabulary is one of the best uses of your time together.


  • Through the week do try to include a range of play activities that will support these areas of learning : Talking together / developing skills of independence / physical play / reading / mark making (developing skills needed for early writing) / number / building and shape / creative / imaginative play / finding out new information about people and the world. Offering this variety of activities will cover the range of curriculum areas that we would be working on in nursery.



Some general points of advice....


  • Please don't spend ages planning a specific activity. It can be quite disappointing when the children don't react with the expected enthusiasm! Keep things simple and spend your energy developing and extending the activities that they are keen to work on.


  • Please remember that an activity may also only last a few minutes and that is ok. Put the activity  aside and use it again another day.


  • Regular bursts of practice can be just as valuable as longer periods of involvement. We all have tasks that we don't particularly enjoy and so it may be helpful for your child that these opporunities are more regular but shorter in length.


  • Make a list as you go forward of activities / games / online activities that you child has particularly enjoyed. It's quite hard to remember these things and you can then use the list to go back to them at a later date.


Thanks for managing to get to the end of all this information and we hope that you have found it helpful. We are really missing all of the children and hope that it won't be too long before we are back to the usual routine!



Sharing stories:

We spend a lot of time sharing and talking about stories. This experience is a crucial part of your child's journey towards reading independently. Please take time to share a story everyday, taking time to talk about the characters, what happens in the story and ask your child to tell you about their favourite part and why.


It is good to revisit and become very familiar with favourite stories and also look for books that may not have been read for a while.


Tell traditional tales without a book if you don't have it  - the children are very familiar with these traditional tales and could help you retell them...

Jack and the Beanstalk

The Gingerbread Man

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Little Red Riding Hood

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The Enormous Pancake

The Three Little Pigs

The Magic Porridge Pot

The Little Red Hen


Keep reading together - you will be helping to build crucial skills in preparation for school!

At Springfield we care, learn and achieve together