Developing Literacy Skills Outdoors
Its National Storytelling Week this week and this always makes us consider how fortunate the children at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens are - having the opportunity to listen to storytelling every day whilst outside, immersed in nature. Whether they are sitting in a pile of soft leaves or leaning against a fallen tree, the outdoor environment provides the perfect environment for listening to stories. We enjoy reading a varied mix of stories, always chosen by the children - with many practitioners also enjoying making up their own!
Regular storytelling is just one way in which we promote the development of early literacy skills at WOK. We are passionate about developing literacy skills in a way which excites children and lays a solid foundation for a desire to learn the formal skills of reading and writing when the time comes, and more importantly when children are ready. We do not focus on learning phonics or teach children how to form letters, instead we use the wonderful environment around us to support children to develop a love of literacy from their early years. Our practitioners are very skilled and do this in many ways including:
- Facilitating uninterrupted, non-adult influenced, truly child led play where children make up their own worlds and stories, developing their imaginations and possible story outcomes. They share their thoughts and ideas and learn new words and concepts from each other. We believe this stretching of imaginative and limitless play is critical to the development of solid literacy skills.
- Providing opportunities for ‘making marks’ – children often start on their writing journey by learning to mark or label something. They can do this in the woodland in a variety of ways. Children can make their marks with sticks, with their muddy fingers, or by using water or chalk. They can, of course, also use paper, pencils and pens!
- Using real world examples to promote the value of reading and writing skills to children – throughout the day children are immersed in examples of real world literacy by practitioners who include them in their reading and writing. This can include reading signs and notices in the park, following maps and signposts, reading the online weather reports, completing our risk assessments and registers, recording our day and messaging parents with photos. At WOK children learn the value of literacy skills in context.
- Singing and music! The children love making up rhymes and songs as we wander through the woods or splash in a puddle. Nurturing a love of rhyme and rhythm is critical to supporting early reading and writing skills.
Literacy in the outdoors is exciting, memorable and unlimited.