How to help - Year 1

Helping your KS1 child with Writing at home


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Whilst children do lots of Literacy based activities at school (e.g. writing, reading, handwriting, phonics), there are also lots of ways that you can support your child at home. It doesn’t have to be by doing pages of lines, text books or sentences – there are lots of ways to make writing fun and meaningful! Here are a few ideas…


The basis of good writing is good talk.

When you visit places, encourage your child to talk about what has been seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. Encourage children to share their experiences in as much detail as possible!


Let children see you being a model writer.

Let children see you writing notes, cards or letters to friends or relatives, a shopping list, an article for a magazine or maybe a story or poem for them to enjoy.

Let your children see that you are not perfect! Making changes and editing what you write is a natural part of writing.

Let your child write their own Christmas cards, thank you letters, cards or e-mails to friends or relatives, invitations to a party, or a list of things they need to take on holiday.

Play word-building games like Boggle or Scrabble.

Games like ‘Guess Who’ and ‘Hedbanz’ can also develop their descriptive vocabulary and questioning skills.

Create silly sentences or tongue twisters using alliteration (a group of words that all begin with the same sound), for example -

  • Silly Sarah slipped on Sam’s sausage sandwiches.
  • Monty Mouse marched merrily to the magic mountain

Different types and colours of paper, different pens and pencils, envelopes, sticky notes, stampers and various other stationary can all be motivating when your child is writing.

Maybe you could even create a special writing corner or area.


Cut up letters from a newspaper or magazine. Can they use the letters to write their name? Can they use a different font for every letter in their name? Can they write a sentence?


Encourage your child to rehearse their sentence out loud before they write it down.

Always encourage children to punctuate their sentences with a full-stop and capital letter. Once secure with this, they can begin to use more complex and varied punctuation such as question marks, exclamation marks, commas and speech marks.


Handwriting does not have to be boring! Let children practise drawing letters in sand, water or paint, or use white boards or blackboards. Children can also make letters using play dough, pastry or shaving foam.

Let children write a small part of your shopping list. Let them be responsible for carrying their list and finding those items when you go to the supermarket.


Make up fun ways to remember how to spell a word, such as –

  • Big Elephants Can Add Up Sums Easily = because
  • Seven Ants In Danger = said
  • Slugs And Worms = saw
  • Worms And Slugs = was


Play ‘I Spy’ – It’s a good way of showing that every word begins with a letter.

‘Hangman’ is another game that children enjoying playing and encourages use of sounds and spellings.


When you go on holiday, encourage children to write postcards to friends or relatives.

They could record things that you do in a holiday diary which they can share with friends or relatives when they get home.


Use magnetic letters on the fridge to spell out a message.

Encourage your child to write their name, spell words and organise the letters into alphabetical order.


After making a cake or doing a craft activity, challenge children to write the recipe or the instructions for someone else to use.


Write an information page or booklet about something they find interesting e.g. spiders, Dr Who, dinosaurs, cats, etc.

Draw a picture and label it.


Share letters and cards from friends and treat their arrival as special events. Show children that you value something that has been written especially for you.


Remember that writing does not have to be lengthy or boring!

Writing for real purposes is more meaningful and rewarding for children and creates a fun and interesting way for children to develop their writing skills.


Useful websites:


What is phonics?

Phonics is one method of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught how to:

  •  recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  •  identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is one of the first important steps in learning to read.


Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is a very effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5–7.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.


What is the phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps your school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress. All children in Year 1 take the check and children who did not meet the standard in Year 1 also take the screening check again in Year 2.


How does the check work?

Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new. The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.


What are ‘non-words’?

The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ (or ‘nonsense words’). Your child will be told before the check that there will be non-words that he or she will not have seen before. Many children will be familiar with this because many schools already use ‘non-words’ when they teach phonics. Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.

After the check

Your school should tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check in the last half-term of the year. If your child has found the check difficult, your child’s school should also tell you what support they have put in place to help him or her improve. You might like to ask how you can support your child to take the next step in reading. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.


Helping your child with phonics

Phonics works best when children are given plenty of encouragement with their reading. Children should learn to love books and develop a passion for reading that continues into adulthood.

Parents play a very important part in helping with this.

Some simple steps to help your child learn to read through phonics:

  •   You can highlight important sounds your child is learning at school when you read with your child at home.
  •  Teaching how sounds match with letters is likely to start with individual letters such as ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ and then will move on to two-letter sounds such as ‘ee’, ‘ch’ and ‘ck’.
  •   With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and to blend the sounds together from left to right. Once your child has read an unfamiliar word you can talk about what it means and help him or her to follow the story.
  •   Your child’s teacher will also be able to suggest books with the right level of phonics for your child. These books are often called ‘decodable readers’ because the story is written with words made up of the letters your child has learnt. Your child will be able to work out new words from their letters and sounds.
  •   Try to make time to read with your child every day. Grandparents and older brothers or sisters can help, too. Encourage your child to blend the sounds all the way through a word.
  •   Word games like ‘I-spy’ can also be an enjoyable way of teaching children about sounds and letters. You can also encourage your child to read words from your shopping list or road signs to practise phonics.
  •   Most schools use ‘book bags’ and a reading record, which is a great way for teachers and parents to communicate about what children have read. The reading record can tell you whether your child has enjoyed a particular book and shows problems or successes he or she has had, either at home or at school.


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