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 year 1 learning

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.

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.

Year 1 curriculum – what do year 1 teachers teach?

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.


Year 1 expectations – national curriculum

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.

What should a child be able to do at the end of Year 1?

Here’s what your child will learn in year 1 of school…

Year 1 English

By the end of year 1, your child will be able to write creative stories and leaflets, write in sentences and use a wider vocabulary. They should also be able to produce legible handwriting.

Year 1 phonics

Children will develop their reading skills, learn more complex words and understand spelling rules.

Year 1 maths

In year 1, your child will learn to count forwards and backwards in 2s, 5s, 10s and 20s. They will also learn to double and half numbers. Children will learn to measure, tell the time and name common shapes.

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 of school?

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.

Talk to the school

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.

Focus on the positives

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?” instead of “You’re going to have lots of work to do next year”. Encourage your child to get excited about what’s to come – from year 1 all the way to secondary school.

Encourage reading at home

Reading is a fantastic way to develop their English skills in preparation for year 1. From spelling, to phonics and creativity – instilling a love of reading not only helps them get ready for new academic challenges, but is also great for relaxing at the end of a long day at school.

Play year 1 learning games

If your child is anxious about starting year 1, you could introduce them to some of the new topics through games. It could be battleships for maths or a word scramble game for English – fun learning activities that help them gain confidence in core skills.

Home learning in year 1

If you think your child could benefit from some additional home learning, online maths and English tuition can provide a great support to the curriculum, offering flexible, tailored activities that can be completed at home. By instilling great learning habits and helping children to become fearless learners, we can help prepare them for the challenges to come.

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. Our early years maths and English tuition can help you give them the best start possible!

Achieve real progress

and unlock the joy of learning.

Learn more

Cancel anytime

No joining fee

In centre or online

Memberships to suit you

Cancel anytime

No joining fee

In centre or online

Memberships to suit you

Cancel anytime

No joining fee

In centre or online

Memberships to suit you

netmums recommended
mumsnet rated
Education Investor Awards 2019 Winner Private tutoring company
Sunday Times best big companies to work for 2019
Cyber Essentials Certified Plus
2019 Business Excellence Winner - Best After School Tuition Provider - UK - Explore learning

Your nearest centres

Sorry, we don't have any centres within {{distance}} miles

image alt text from CMS

Explore learning online tuition

We also offer online tuition to flexibly fit into your family’s life.

Results from outside {{distance}} miles

Please select a centre

Showing {{count}} closest to '{{postcode}}'




{{distance}} miles

Select this centre

Search again

Please enter a valid postcode or location