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What is literacy?

Have you ever wondered what exactly is meant by the term "literacy"? In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, literacy is more important than ever for our children's success. Literacy goes beyond the ability to read and write; it encompasses a range of skills that empower individuals to understand, interpret, and communicate effectively in various contexts. Literacy involves a range of skills including:

  • Reading: Literacy involves the ability to read and understand written texts. It helps your child gain knowledge, explore different perspectives, and enjoy stories.

  • Writing: Literacy includes the skill of expressing thoughts and ideas through writing. It allows your child to communicate effectively, organize their thinking, and be creative.

  • Speaking: Literacy encompasses effective oral communication. It helps your child express themselves clearly, engage in conversations, and share their thoughts and opinions.

  • Listening: Literacy involves active listening and comprehension. It enables your child to understand instructions, follow conversations, and learn from others.


By nurturing literacy skills, children can succeed academically, think critically, and participate confidently in today's interconnected world.

Speaking and Listening

Promoting speaking and listening skills in children is crucial for their overall communication development. Without good speaking and listening skills, it is difficult for students to master the more complicated tasks of reading and writing

At Westall we undertake a range of fun practices all day to promote speaking and listening which you can also do at home, either in English or your native tongue.


How you can help at home

Here are some effective ways we use to foster these skills that you can also do at home:

  1. Engage in meaningful conversations: Encourage children to express their thoughts and opinions on various topics. Ask questions like "What do you think?", "Why do you think that?", "Tell me more".

  2. Active listening practice: Teach your child the importance of attentive listening. Encourage them to maintain eye contact, ask clarifying questions, and summarize what they've heard. 

  3. Storytelling and role-playing: Encourage your child to tell stories, create narratives, or act out scenes. 

  4. Family discussions and debates: Create a safe and supportive environment for family discussions and debates. Engage in conversations where everyone gets a chance to express their thoughts and respectfully listen to others' viewpoints.

  5. Games and activities: Play games that promote communication skills, such as charades, storytelling games, or "I Spy." These activities encourage listening and speaking while making learning enjoyable.

  6. Read aloud and discuss: Read books together and encourage your child to retell the story or share their favourite parts. 

  7. Encourage active participation: Encourage your child to participate in group activities, clubs, or organizations where they can practice speaking and listening with peers. This could include joining a debate team, drama club, or participating in community events.


Remember, providing a supportive and encouraging environment is key to promoting speaking and listening skills. Celebrate their efforts and give constructive feedback to help them improve. With consistent practice and your guidance, your child's communication skills will flourish.


Reading is a fundamental skill that plays a vital role in a child's development and future success. Here's a brief explanation on why reading is important and the two main approaches to reading:

Why is reading important?

  1. Knowledge and Information: Reading allows children to acquire knowledge and information from various sources, including books, articles, and online resources. It broadens their understanding of the world, expands their vocabulary, and enhances their general knowledge.

  2. Language and Communication Skills: Reading helps children develop strong language skills, including vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. It improves their ability to articulate thoughts, express ideas, and communicate effectively in both written and oral forms.

  3. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Reading fosters critical thinking skills by exposing children to different perspectives, ideas, and scenarios. It encourages them to analyze, evaluate, and make connections between information, enhancing their problem-solving abilities.

  4. Imagination and Creativity: Reading stimulates imagination and creativity by immersing children in fictional worlds, characters, and narratives. It sparks their creativity, encourages them to think outside the box, and nurtures a love for storytelling and literature.


The Two Main Approaches to Reading:

  1. Phonics Approach: This approach emphasizes the relationship between sounds and letters. Children learn the individual sounds of letters (phonemes) and how they combine to form words. Phonics instruction focuses on decoding skills, enabling children to sound out unfamiliar words and develop reading fluency.

  2. Whole Language Approach: This approach emphasizes the meaning and context of texts. Children learn to recognize whole words and understand their meanings through exposure to a variety of texts. It encourages reading for comprehension, building vocabulary, and making connections between words and concepts.


Both approaches have their merits, and we combine elements of both in our teaching. A balanced approach that incorporates phonics instruction and whole language strategies tends to be effective in developing well-rounded readers. 

Our Phonics Approach


Sounds-Write is the high quality phonics program we use to build strong reading skills at Westall Primary School. Our staff have undertaken 50 hours of training in this area with our school partners with SPELD Victoria providing ongoing support and training.

For a quick introduction to Sounds-Write -


For more info -

At Westall, students undertake phonics instruction daily for about 20 minutes. Students usually move between classrooms in their grade levels - so that they are in appropriate skill level groups for this part of the lesson.

Beginning Stages (Initial Code)


In the beginning stages students learn the most basic letter sounds, and how to blend them together to make simple words.

How you can help at home

1. You can support your child at home with this by watching and practicing the sounds in the following videos with them.

2. Read fun books with thematic home - use your finger to point out each word as you read it and show them how to sound out words, get them to read some of the words.


Phonics Videos for Parents and Kids

All Videos

All Videos

All Videos
Phonics Unit 1 Sounds a i m s t_1

Phonics Unit 1 Sounds a i m s t_1

Phonics Unit 2 Sounds n o p_1

Phonics Unit 2 Sounds n o p_1

Phonics Unit 3 Sounds b c g h

Phonics Unit 3 Sounds b c g h

Phonics Unit 4 Sounds d f v e

Phonics Unit 4 Sounds d f v e

Phonics Unit 5 Sounds k l r u

Phonics Unit 5 Sounds k l r u

Phonics Unit 6 Sounds j w z

Phonics Unit 6 Sounds j w z

Phonics Unit 7 Sounds x y

Phonics Unit 7 Sounds x y

Later Stages 

In the later stages of phonics instruction, students progress from decoding individual sounds and simple words to tackling more complex aspects of language, such as polysyllabic words, morphology, and spelling. Here's a brief explanation of these components:

  1. Polysyllabic Words: Students learn to decode and read words with multiple syllables. 

  2. Morphology: Students delve into the study of morphology, which focuses on word structure and meaning. They learn about prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

  3. Spelling: As students develop their phonics knowledge and understanding of word patterns, they begin applying these skills to their spelling. They learn spelling rules, patterns, and conventions, using their phonemic awareness to represent sounds accurately in written form. 

How you can help at home

  1. Encourage Reading: Provide books in your native language and encourage your child to read aloud to practice phonics skills.

  2. Seek Multilingual Resources: Look for phonics materials in your native language to support your child's learning.

  3. Partner with the School: Communicate with the teacher to get guidance and resources for phonics support at home.

  4. Practice Phonics Games: Play games that focus on sounds and letters, like memory matching or clapping out syllables.

  5. Emphasize Vocabulary: Help your child build their vocabulary in your native language to indirectly support phonics skills.

  6. Connect Sounds and Letters: Work on associating sounds with letters in your native language and practice blending sounds to form words.

  7. Celebrate Progress: Encourage and celebrate your child's achievements to motivate them in their phonics development.


Writing is often considered one of the most challenging skills to develop because it requires a combination of various cognitive processes, including generating ideas, organizing thoughts, and expressing them coherently on paper. It demands proficiency in language, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, making it a complex and multifaceted skill to master.

At Westall we employ various strategies and approaches to help students develop their writing skills effectively. One common approach is the scaffolding literacy approach. Scaffolding refers to providing temporary support and guidance to students as they work on developing their writing abilities. Here's a summary of how utilize this approach:

  1. Modeling: Teachers model good writing by demonstrating the writing process, including brainstorming, organizing ideas, and revising drafts. By observing the teacher's modeling, students gain a clearer understanding of the expectations and techniques involved in effective writing.

  2. Guided Practice: We provide structured opportunities for students to practice their writing skills under the guidance of teachers. This involves step-by-step instructions, teacher feedback, and targeted exercises that gradually increase in complexity. It allows students to develop their skills with appropriate support.

  3. Peer Collaboration: Collaborative writing activities encourage students to work together, provide feedback, and share ideas. Peer editing and peer review processes promote critical thinking, constructive feedback, and a deeper understanding of the writing process. Students learn from each other and develop their writing skills collectively.

  4. Explicit Instruction: Teachers explicitly teach grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and other foundational writing skills. They provide clear explanations, interactive lessons, and practice activities to help students understand and apply these concepts in their writing.

  5. Revision and Editing: Students are taught the importance of revising and editing their written work. They learn to review their writing for clarity, coherence, and accuracy, making necessary improvements and refinements. Teachers guide them in the revision process to enhance their writing skills over time.


The scaffolding literacy approach recognizes that writing proficiency is developed gradually and requires ongoing support and practice. By providing systematic instruction, feedback, and opportunities for collaboration, schools help students build a strong foundation in writing and gradually develop their skills.

How you can help at home

Encourage regular writing practice at home, engaging in meaningful writing activities such as writing:

  • Journals and diaries

  • Stories

  • Letters and emails

  • Lists (shopping list)

  • Poetry, songs, 'rap' lyrics

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