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What to expect in Reception

Learning through play!

In Reception, your child will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. This sets the standards for the learning, development, and care of your child. The things your child will learn in Reception have been organised into three prime areas of learning:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal and Social Development

And four specific areas of learning:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

What will my child do in Reception?

In the EYFS, play is a very important part of your child’s development and most learning will be introduced through a mixture of carefully planned play and some adult-led focused activities. There will also be opportunities for your child to choose activities that appeal to them, following their own particular interests.

Don’t be too concerned if your child says that they have been playing all day – it just means that they have been lucky enough to have experienced staff who have made their learning fun and enjoyable! As the Reception year progresses, the learning may start to become more formal, ready for Year 1 and the National Curriculum.

What kind of assessment is there in Reception?

Throughout your child’s time at school, they will be assessed regularly. This is to check their progress and identify the next steps in their learning. The school may carry out a baseline assessment when your child starts to find out what they can do already. This is nothing to worry about – it is not a test and it is unlikely your child will even know it is happening.

At the end of Reception, your child’s teacher will assess again and it is likely they will complete an EYFS Profile. This assessment is carried out by the Reception teacher and is based on what they, and other staff caring for your child, have observed over a period of time. All of the information collected is then used to assess where your child is currently in the seven areas of learning.

How can I help my child in Reception?

1. Read to your child

Life is busy, but even ten minutes of reading with your child each day is one of the best ways you can support their education and help them to become a strong reader.

While you are reading, make sure to check they are following along. Explain the meaning of unfamiliar words, as this will help widen your child’s vocabulary and support them to make sense of the story.

That said, try not to make reading time all about developing vocabulary. At this age, it is vital to make reading a fun activity that your child will look forward to. This will encourage them to become enthusiastic readers as they grow up. So pick a book they will enjoy, get tucked up, and lose yourselves in the story!

You can find more advice on our Reading in Reception page.

Video: Make a reading den

Make a reading den to make reading fun for your child with these simple ideas from Isabel Thomas.

2. Explore phonics

Your child will be taught to read words using phonics. Phonics is an approach to reading that focuses on building words from sounds. Sounds (or phonemes) are represented by letters/groups of letters (or graphemes) – for example, ‘s’, ‘m’, ‘ch’, or ‘igh’.

In Reception, children will start learning some letters and the sounds they make, and will learn to put them together to make simple words. For example, once they know the individual sounds for ‘s’, ‘a’, and ‘t’, they can blend them together to form ‘sat’.

You can help your child get a head start in phonics with our audio guide to phonics or our Learn to read with phonics page. You can also find lots of help on our Learning to read with phonics YouTube playlist.

3. Introduce maths

At this age, your child will be introduced to the idea of numbers and counting. You can help them get to know small numbers with songs and games – take a look at our Fun learning ideas for four-year-olds for some ideas.

You can also find advice for introducing your child to maths on our Maths in Reception page or on our blog:

Curriculum for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Refer to these links for more curriculum details specific to your area of the United Kingdom: