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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