What is the definition of literate?

There are a varied number of definitions for the word ‘literate’ but they all have a similar feel.  I would say that being literate is being able to speak, listen, read, write and spell effectively enough to see your way around life independently.steps to learning

The steps to literacy or becoming literate have to include the five components of speaking, listening, reading, writing and spelling(phonics).  One or two do not mean you are literate.

Schools are notorious for pushing children through all the stages without ensuring that the children are confident with a concept before building onto the next one.  The need to have all the children as near to the same ‘level’ as possible means that some of those children are only paper literate – what it says on the record tick sheet.

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening are usually grouped as a pair as they complement each other beautifully.

How young children learn to speak is an absolute wonder; I know how hard it is to learn a new language as an adult!

Sometimes there is a discrepancy between the amount of speaking and the amount of listening that takes place.  I’m sure you know someone who can do more of one than the other!Tin can phone

The capacity a child has to listen attentively is huge.  Somewhere along the line this ability seems to dwindle.  I don’t know why but much of the blame, I think, lies with adults who don’t listen to children.  Again, children are great mimics.

Young children love listening to and then attempting to say new complicated words.  In other words don’t simplify speech when communicating with children.

Nice is a dreadful word – what on earth does it mean?

The apple is nice.  The dress is nice.  The town is nice.

The apple is delicious, scrumptious, mouth-watering, tasty, lip-smacking…

The dress is pink, gorgeous, stunning, dazzling, elegant…

The town is magnificent, splendid, marvellous, beautiful…

If you use an array of vocabulary, then so will your children.

On the flip side of this, of course, is whatever language you use to communicate with children they will use so beware!!

Children who have a wide and interesting vocabulary will never be lost for words.


I would be absolutely lost without a book/Kindle by my side.  Being able to lose myself incute little baby reading book a novel or learn a new skill is an integral part of my life.  Therefore, it is extremely hard for me to understand those people saying:

Reading is boring!

I hate reading!

What do you need all those books for?

Put that book away and do something useful! (I actually heard a mother say this to her 3 year old!!)

Children who read are children who become speakers, listeners and, of course, writers.  They understand how a book ‘works’; its raison d’etre.

Being able to read gives a plethora of opportunities in every area of life.  Reading is a gateway to success and it is enjoyable too.


Ah, this is where things get difficult especially without the speaking, listening and reading experiences.

Children have to assimilate all the other skills and then learn to hold a pencil correctly, form the letters, write on the line, finger spaces, spelling, vocabulary, genres, punctuation, oh the list goes on. I would imagine this equates to you or me learning brain surgery or quantum physics by next Thursday.

It’s hard work.

Yes, the computer takes away some of the pressure.  Holding a pencil becomes irrelevant but even a spell check can go wrong.


Prays the Lord for the spelling chequer
That came with our pea sea!
Mecca mistake and it puts you rite
Its so easy to ewes, you sea.

I never used to no, was it e before eye?
(Four sometimes its eye before e.)
But now I’ve discovered the quay to success
It’s as simple as won, too, free!

Sew watt if you lose a letter or two,
The whirled won’t come two an end!
Can’t you sea? It’s as plane as the knows on yore face
S. Chequer’s my very best friend

I’ve always had trubble with letters that double
“Is it one or to S’s?” I’d wine
But now, as I’ve tolled you this chequer is grate
And its hi thyme you got won, like mine.

Janet E. Byford

I will be giving lots of strategies to help with teaching children to write.  For the moment though, criticising a child’s writing efforts will affect their confidence to a point where they won’t bother any more.

Of course, if they are trying out their new-found writing skills using a permanent marker on your newly decorated lounge wall, ‘that’s lovely writing, darling’ doesn’t seem appropriate.


Phonics is the sound letters and groups of letters make.  It is a huge area of literacy and, in my opinion, is one that needs to be taught in a structured manner.  Once children have phonic knowledge, reading and writing become easier to achieve.

I love teaching phonics and think it is an excellent method to help children learn to spell.  I will be delivering strategies, resources, tips and ideas to help with phonics.

Phonics is the lonely literacy concept.  It does fit with reading and it does fit with writing but not quite – if you get my drift.

Being literate helps the journey through life to become beautiful.  Other things help as well, chocolate and wine seem to help but being able to communicate effectively gives us that edge.

Do you feel confident helping children to learn reading, writing, speaking, listening and phonics?

What help do you think you need?

Let me know so I can provide that anything necessary.  I’d love to hear from you.

Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you