Early Writing

Children within nursery start working towards the end of reception goals as outlined in the Early Years Statutory Framework. Children start the initial steps in their learning which lead towards them being able to:

  • write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed;
  • spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters;
  • write simple phrases and sentences that can be ready by others.

The ‘Birth to 5 Matters’ non-statutory guidance outlines that children between the ages of 3 and 4 should:

  • make up stories, play scenarios, and drawings in response to experiences, such as outings.
  • sometimes give meaning to their drawings and paintings.
  • ascribe meaning to signs, symbols and words that they see in difference places, including those they make themselves.
  • include mark marking and early writing in their play.
  • Imitate adults’ writing by making continuous lines of shapes and symbols (early writing) from left to right.
  • attempt to write their own name, or other names and words, using combinations of lines, circles, curves or letter-type shapes.
  • show an interest in letters on a keyboard, identifying the initial letter of their own name and other familiar words.
  • begin to make letter-type shapes to represent the initial sound of their name and other familiar words.

The ‘Development Matters in the EYFS’ non-statutory guidance outlines that children in reception should be learning to:

  • understand that print has meaning and can have different purposes.
  • use some of their print and letter knowledge in their early writing. For example: writing a pretend shopping list hat starts at the top of the page; writing ‘m’ for mummy.
  • write some or all of their name.
  • write some letters accurately.

To ensure that children are making progress in their writing and to support them in achieving the end of year Early Learning Goal, we have produced an Early Years writing progression document. This takes in to consideration the statutory and non-statutory guidance and breaks the end of year goals into smaller steps which can be achieved over the course of the year and prepare them for reception.


Here are some examples of end of year writing expectations:

Transitioning into Reception

Our teachers in reception and nursery work closely together to ensure a smooth transition for all pupils. Each child is discussed in detail so that teachers know where they are currently working and to identify next steps to ensure progress.

Further information is available from the following websites:
Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Download or buy a copy – Birth To 5 Matters
Development Matters – Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage