Online resource promoting writing focuses on boys

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A new online resource bank brings together guidance on writing in the early years with new material to support the needs of boys.

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Gateway to Writing, on the National Strategies website, includes guidance on the role of the practitioner, boys and writing, writing provision for boys, developing handwriting, and learning about sentences.

There are ideas on developing the environment to encourage children's independent writing and on engaging reluctant boys, with role play suggested as an area where boys can be urged to see writing as purposeful.

One case study looks at how a practitioner set out to tackle the reluctance of a group of boys to write by setting up an outdoor garage service bay with MOT certificates and pads to note what repairs were needed. She took a series of digital photographs the children used for sequencing a bike being serviced. She encouraged the children to talk about what they had done and together they wrote a bike service manual.

Early language consultant Michael Jones said the 'excellent' resource was particularly useful for practitioners to reflect on how to engage children who might be reluctant to join in.

'Because of current concern about boys' under-achievement in writing, it is tempting to consider creating separate activities to meet their perceived needs,' he said. 'From my experience, there are many girls who also need encouragement, and I prefer to think of activities and approaches that appeal to both boys and girls.'

The guidance says practitioners have a crucial role to play in finding ways of engaging and collaborating with children in writing and in creating interesting activities both indoors and outdoors. It suggests writing letters or e-mails from characters in books children know well, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Mr Gumpy, or writing letters for children to find in a bag with an old toy inside.

Early years consultant Linda Pound said, 'I think it is a pity we have to call it writing and not mark-making, as there is too much emphasis at too young an age on formal writing. Some children may love the idea of getting a letter from a teddy and writing a reply, but others may see it as a chore. It's about finding what works for each child.'

Further information: http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/254287

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