What To Expect in Year 1 – A Parent’s Guide


The end of the reception year (age 4-5) marks the start of key Stage 1 when the natiohello year 1 goodbye receptionnal curriculum comes into play.  There is a more structured, teacher-led approach to learning, rather than child-centred learning through play and there is more emphasis on reading and writing.  Ask any reception child what they do at school and 9 times out of 10, the word “play” will be mentioned.  Ask any year 1 child what they do in school and they will come out with responses like “we do more work”, “we do harder work”, and more specific responses like “we do more counting” or “we write a lot”.

So it’s no surprise that parents are concerned about this transition, and worry about their child’s ability to cope and manage the work. I have assessed many children at this stage of their schooling, and have seen a wide range of abilities.  Some can write their name neatly, on the line, and remember to start with a capital letter.  Whilst others can  barely hold their pencil properly. DO NOT worry about this as children mature at different rates.

However, if you want to make sure that your child is ready for year 1 and has a firm foundation, then below is a simplified version of what every child in reception should be able to do and I hope this proves useful to you.

Targets in Literacy

  •  Able to write own name and other words from memory.

  • Able to hold a pencil and uses it effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed.

  • Uses phonic knowledge to write simple regular words and use phonics to decode more complex words.

  • To begin to form captions and simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation.

  • To be able communicate meaning through phrases and simple sentences with some consistency in punctuating sentences.

  • Be able to read the 100 high frequency reception words.

100 High Frequency Words For Reception

1. the
2. and
3. a
4. to
5. said
6. in
7. he
8. I
9. of
10. it
11. was
12. you
13. they
14. on
15. she
16. is
17. for
18. at
19. his
20. but
21. that
22. with
23. all
24. we
25. can
26. are
27. up
28. had
29. my
30. her
31. what
32. there
33. out
34. this
35. have
36. went
37. be
38. like
39. some
40. so
41. not
42. then
43. were
44. go
45. little
46. as
47. no
48. mum
49. one
50. them
51. do
52. me
53. down
54. dad
55. big
56. when
57. it’s
58. see
59. looked
60. very
61. look
62. don’t
63. come
64. will
65. into
66. back
67. from
68. children
69. him
70. Mr
71. get
72. just
73. now
74. came
75. oh
76. about
77. got
78. their
79. people
80. your
81. put
82. could
83. house
84. old
85. too
86. by
87. day
88. made
89. time
90. I’m
91. if
92. help
93. Mrs
94. called
95. here
96. off
97. asked
98. saw
99. make
100. an

Maths Targets

  • To know numbers 1-20 verbally and to recognise numbers 1-9 in written form

  • to count up to ten objects

  • to use mathematical language such as more than, bigger, less, add, take away, share.

  • to know one more than/less than a number between 1 and 10

  • add up 2 numbers so the answer is less than 10 and use their fingers or objects if necessary

  • to do simple take away sums again with numbers less than 10 eg 5-3, 10-4

  • To recognise simple patterns

  • Use everyday words to describe the position of objects. A wide  vocabulary including: over, under, above, below, next to, in front,  behind, outside, inside, next to, left, right, up, down, forwards,  backwards, across.

  • To Know the days of the week and vocabulary related to time, eg yesterday, afternoon, tomorrow etc

  • Name shapes such as circle, square, triangle, rectangle, cube, cone, sphere

Other Targets

  • How to share

  • how to play with someone else

  • how to sit and listen to a story

  • to take turns

  • to put their own equipment away

  • to put their coat on

  • to put rubbish in the bin

  • how to hold a paint brush

  • to wash hands after going to the toilet

It’s easy for parents to help their child at this age because it’s almost intuitive, and actually I think most parents teach their child the things on this list anyway.  If you need help for your child who is moving onto year 1, then I can assess them to see where the gaps in their learning are.  Just call for a free assessment or fill in our contact form here.

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One comment on “What To Expect in Year 1 – A Parent’s Guide

  1. What a shame that learning through play is almost dismissed once children make the transition into year one when so much research and data shows that children learn rapidly through play! Children continue to address the gaps from the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum at the start of Key Stage One and my children continue to learn through carefully planned play opportunities with elements of challenge, in addition to ‘small’ groups of children working practically with a practitioner. My parents love the fact that the transition into year one is absolutely seamless! Just a thought…telling the time through worksheets or making paper plate clocks, play dough hands on a clockface, moving the hands on a ‘real’ watch or clock, painting o’clock times or playing Mr Wolf in the playground?

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