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Early Learning and Development: Literacy

Updated: Apr 29

Ensuring your child’s development is on track can be an absolute minefield (as explained by Onoco mum Jasmin last year!) and most apps that are designed to help focus only on a baby’s first year.

Luckily, there’s the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework: a set of guidelines for the learning, development, and care of children from birth to 5 years old in the United Kingdom.

We built the learning journey area of Onoco inspired by the EYFS to help parents gain a deeper understanding of their child’s development, and to explore together the wide range of milestones we can celebrate in our families.

Today, we’re shining a spotlight on: literacy!

The literacy area of the EYFS framework focuses on children's development of reading and writing skills. This includes helping children to develop their phonological awareness (the ability to understand the sounds in words), learn the alphabet and the sounds that each letter represents, and begin to read and write simple words.


Reading is one of the two core areas of literacy and, as well as being a foundation skill, it’s a fantastic opportunity to bond too so you can never start too early!

0-11 months

  • Share board and cloth books together

  • User finger play, rhymes and songs as part of story time

8-20 months

  • Let your little one hold the book and interact with it while you tell a story

  • Explain what’s happening in pictures and illustrations

16-26 months

  • Use different voices and encourage your little one to join in

  • Let them take over some of the storytelling!

22-36 months

  • Use toys to repeat stories

  • Read stories they’re familiar with to encourage finishing sentences or filling in the next word

30-50 months

  • Expand from books and explore different reading types, such as recipes and lists

  • Encourage predictions in stories and create imaginative alternative endings together

  • Surround yourselves with opportunities for reading and apply it in everyday life, such as street signs or posters

40-60+ months

  • Play games like letter bingo

  • Encourage recollection of names and places

  • Model how simply words can be segmented and blended

  • Provide simple texts to give confidence in their developing skills.

And, as with all EYFS learning areas, this isn't about ticking a box! Yes, a strong reading ability is a lifelong skill, but reading for pleasure? That can bring even more benefits, including:

  • Greater self confidence

  • Attainment of general knowledge

  • A better understanding of other cultures

  • Community participation

  • A greater insight into human nature and decision making.

It’s important to note that reading for pleasure is often associated with choice for children, so providing a range of books and literature that they can actively pick from is a great step towards encouraging regular independent reading.

There is also evidence to show that children agree with the statement that “reading about characters are like me makes me feel more confident about myself” so, if you’re struggling with certain emotions or experiences in your family, turning to a book could be a fantastic way to work through them together.


Formal writing prior to school age isn’t particularly necessary but introducing the skill and modelling it to your children is a fantastic way to help them build the physical strength and understanding of control needed in their hands and fingers.

0-20 months

  • Before a child can write they must understand spoken language

  • Speak clearly and often!

16-26 months

  • Play games which include instructions

  • Use pictures, books and signs alongside your words to start forming connections

22-36 months

  • Support the marks that are being made, and encourage explanations

  • Draw attention to marks, signs and symbols and talk about what they represent

30-50 months

  • Support the recognition and writing of your child’s name

  • Make books of activities you’ve been doing, and ask them to add words or marks

  • Model writing for a purpose

  • Include opportunities for writing in games

40-60+ months

  • Demonstrate writing and spelling

  • Talk to your little one about letters and words

  • Encourage role play which includes signs with purpose, such as a shop.

What you’ll notice in the writing area of development is that it connects with a range of others, for example needing strong language skills, and the early years are very much focused on developing the understanding of writing as a concept and the physical ability to navigate writing tools.

By developing these, you’re well on your way to helping your child to understand language patterns; to develop their thinking skills; to stronger problem solving ability; and to being able to make sense of their experiences.


Ready to get started on your own Onoco learning journey? We have over 460 milestones available to celebrate, broken down into age appropriate categories, each with their own hints and tips similar to those we’ve listed here…

You can even get those tips delivered directly to your profile with Onoco Premium.

Better yet, when you’re marking off your milestones, you can add photos to share with your connected family accounts so everyone can get involved in the celebrations!


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