Research-based writing practices specific to the EYFS

Below is a table we share in our latest eBook: Supporting Children With SEND To Be Great Writers: A Guide For Teachers And SENCOS (Young & Ferguson 2023). It shares research-based writing practices which are specific to teaching children to write in the EYFS.

Research-based writing practices specific to the EYFS
Interconnect your phonics, encoding and letter formation instruction and provide this kind of instruction daily. Encourage children to use ‘sound spellings’ while writing (Young & Ferguson 2022).

Encourage children to engage in emergent writing practices – especially using ‘kid writing’ (Young & Ferguson 2022). 

Teach a daily mini-lesson about an aspect of writing and being a writer. This instruction could last anywhere between 1-15 minutes (Young & Ferguson 2022).

Teach young writers the ‘book-making process’ and undertake specific book-making projects (The Writing For Pleasure Centre 2023; Young & Ferguson 2023).

Set aside anywhere between 30-90 minutes every day for children to write and make books. Invite children to use and apply what you taught them that day in their own writing (Young & Ferguson 2022).

Teachers and assistant teachers should make their own books alongside small groups of children during daily book-making time (Young & Ferguson 2023).
During this time, they can provide live verbal feedback and additional responsive instruction through pupil conferencing (Ferguson & Young 2021).

Ensure children can access book-making and other writing opportunities throughout the day. 

Don’t delay teaching about writing. Start on the very first day.

This table is based on following research evidence:

  • Wharton-McDonald, R., Pressley, M., & Hampston, J. (1998) Outstanding literacy instruction in first grade: Teacher practices and student achievement, Elementary School Journal, 99, 101–128 [LINK]
  • Wray, D. & Medwell, J. (1999) ‘Effective teachers of literacy: knowledge, beliefs and practices’, in International Electronic Journal For Leadership in Learning 3(9) [LINK]
  • Pressley, M., Wharton-Mcdonald, R., Allington, R., Block, C. C., Morrow, L., Tracey, D., Baker, K., Brooks, G., Cronin, J., Nelson, E., & Woo, D. (2001) A study of effective first grade literacy instruction, Scientific Studies of Reading, 5, 35-58 [LINK]
  • Louden, W., Rohl, M., Barrat-Pugh, C., Brown, C., Cairney, T., Elderfield, J., House, H., Meiers, M., Rivaland, J., & Rowe, K. J. (2005) In teachers’ hands: Effective literacy teaching practices in the early years of schooling, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 28, 173-252 [LINK]
  • Graham, S., Kiuhara, S., McKeown, D., & Harris, K. R. (2012). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for students in the elementary grades, Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4) [LINK]
  • Gerde, H.K., Bingham, G.E., Wasik, B.A. (2012) Writing in Early Childhood Classrooms: Guidance for Best Practices. Early Childhood Education Journal 40, pp.351–359 [LINK]
  • Dombey, H. (2013) What we know about teaching writing, Preschool & Primary Education, 1, 22-40 [LINK]
  • Hall, A., Simpson, A., Guo, Y., Wang, S. (2015) Examining the Effects of Preschool Writing Instruction on Emergent Literacy Skills: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Literacy Research and Instruction, 54:2, 115-134 [LINK]
  • Hall, A., (2019) Every Child is a Writer: Understanding the Importance of Writing in Early Childhood Institute for Child Success [LINK]
  • Managhan, E. (2020) Effective Practices to Balance Literacy Instruction in Early Childhood, Learning to Teach, 9(1) [LINK]
  • Rowe, D., Shimizu, A., Davis, Z. (2021) Essential Practices for Engaging Young Children as Writers: Lessons from Expert Early Writing Teachers, The Reading Teacher, pp. 1-10 [LINK]
  • Hall, A. H., Gao, Q., Guo, Y., Xie, Y. (2022) Examining the effects of kindergarten writing instruction on emergent literacy skills: a systematic review of the literature, Early Child Development and Care, 1-13 [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F. (2023) The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s Handbook Of Research On Teaching Young Writers Brighton: The Writing For Pleasure Centre [LINK]


If you are interested in reading about how to support children with SEND to be great writers, get our latest eBook: Supporting children with SEND to be great writers: A guide for teachers and SENCOS. For more information on developing children in EYFS and KS1 as writers, see our eBook: Getting children up and running as book-makers: Lessons for EYFS-KS1 teachers Remember, these publications are FREE for members:

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