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​What are the foundational skills for reading and writing?

The foundational skills needed before formal reading and writing instruction can occur are described through five domain/skill areas.

1. Oral Language, talking and social skills

This includes developing behaviour, language and talking skills in preparation for learning at school and using these skills appropriately in social and learning situations, Most importantly, it includes being able to tell someone about past experiences – reflecting, recounting and sharing.

2. Auditory or listening skills

This involves developing the ability to listen and process what is heard, in preparation for learning about sounds of language and sound to letter connections.

3. Visual or Looking Skills

This involves developing the ability to ‘see with the brain’ to discriminate and use language to describe, categorise, classify and associate things that are seen.  These skills are crucial in preparation for learning about letters and words and discriminating letters for both reading and writing.

4. Moving Skills

This involves the ability to control and coordinate both gross (big) and fine (small) muscles in preparation for participating in the classroom and learning to read and write.  These skills are particularly important for the development of handwriting.

5. Understanding Print Skills

This includes developing understandings about how English print is organised, learning about books and how to handle them and learning about different kinds of books and print in the environment.  It includes learning about what a word is, what a letter is and what a sound is and how they are used in reading and writing.  These concepts prepare children for learning about letters and sounds and are crucial for understanding the links among skills of word recognition, phonics and comprehension in reading and writing.