Get ready for year 1!

August 10, 2018

Is year 1 really that different to reception? Hayley Garland, a reception teacher in Surrey, explains why the answer is ‘yes’! Find out how you can get your child ready for the step up…

Ready for year 1

As a parent, the prospect of settling your child into their new class is probably a lot less daunting than it was getting ready for their first day of school. But for some children, the transition from the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to year 1 (Y1) can be trickier than starting school was in the first place.

The EYFS is the current statutory curriculum for all children under five in England and Wales. It outlines the standards for care, learning and development; ensuring that all early years settings are following the same values and principles for young children’s education. Therefore, your child’s pre-school learning experiences, whether that be with a nursery, pre-school or childminder, have probably been very similar to the kinds of activities and learning that took place throughout their reception year.


So how is year 1 different from reception?

In contrast, the learning in Y1 is split up into subjects, such as English, maths, science and art. The learning is more adult-led and the routines of the day are often more structured in order to fit all the subjects in, so the children have less choice about what they can do.

This is because Y1 follows the National Curriculum (NC) for Key Stage One (KS1). All local authority-maintained schools in England must teach the NC. In Y1, children are working towards specific targets, including knowing certain times tables and being able to spell a list of words correctly. The children will also begin to work towards the national SATs assessment at the end of year 2, and will complete a statutory phonics screening check at the end of Y1.

For lots of children, the biggest challenge is that they are expected to spend considerably more time sitting still and paying attention. You might find that your child appears more tired at the end of the school day, their sleep may be disrupted, they might not want to go to school, they might need more time to run around and ‘let off steam’, or homework tasks could become more of a struggle.


What can schools do to help children settle into year 1?

Most schools will have an induction process to settle children into Y1 gradually, so that the autumn term helps them get used to the different kind of learning. Your child will have an opportunity to meet their new teacher and visit their classroom before term starts too.


What can parents do to help settle children into year 1?

Most schools will have a ‘Moving on to year 1’ talk for parents (or put the information on the website or in a letter). Some schools even have a ‘transition policy’ outlining exactly how the school supports children moving into Y1. If you’re not sure who your child’s Y1 teacher will be, or you have any concerns at all about them moving into Y1, then now is the time to talk with school. You can even ask to meet with the Y1 and reception teacher together to plan for your child. If you notice your child is struggling at all once they’ve started Y1 then it’s also important to raise this with their teacher straight away. Another big difference in Y1 is the time you will have with your child’s teacher. You are probably used to seeing the teacher at the beginning and end of each day, but in Y1 children tend to line up in the playground and go into their classroom independently, so there will be less opportunity to speak to the teacher on a daily basis.

It’s really important to highlight the positives and not let your child see any of your anxieties. Try saying, “Won’t it be exciting to have so many different books to write in?” or “I can’t wait to see your new classroom and all your friends again” – instead of “You’re going to have lots of work to do next year”. Spend some time before the start of term familiarising your child with the sort of things they’ll be doing at school. Try to spend 10-15 minutes a day on a focused task such as a jigsaw puzzle, to help build up your child’s concentration. It also helps to give them verbal instructions to follow, such as “put your coat on and wait by the door”, instead of putting their coat on for them. 

We hope you found Hayley’s advice useful! According to research by Durham University, your child’s first years at school can have the biggest impact on their achievements. We can help you give them the best start possible!

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