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Starting Reception is a huge step for your child. It is a lovely time but also it can be daunting for the parents as much as the child. A few years back, I ran this article in Parent Time, because personally, I felt I didn’t really understand what was expected of parents to help during those reception years...And I also felt that I didn’t know the right questions to ask the school... ‘I didn’t know, what I didn’t know, so how would I know to ask it’. If that makes sense! Reception teacher, Becki Walker (as she was then, now married and has changed her name) who came from St Mary and St John Primary School gave some really useful pointers about what to expect and look out for in Reception year.


Attend taster sessions where you can.

‘Every school is different but where possible attend the settling in or taster sessions offered as these are very important. They allow the teacher and other adults to get to know your child and learn things about them before they start school. They also provide a great opportunity for your child to get to know their classroom and meet their new friends.’

Be Positive.

‘For all parents, whether it’s your first, second or third child, going to school is a big step. Even when you don't feel positive, and sometimes nervous for your child, try not to convey that too much to them. Make it as positive and exciting as you can.

Talk to your Reception teacher.

‘Remember no question is a silly question so if you do have any worries then it is important to go and speak to the teacher. Everyone is working together to achieve a positive and exciting start to school for your child.’ 

‘It is really important for parents to develop a good relationship with the Reception teacher and your child needs to see this partnership. At St Mary and St John, we hold a settling-in meeting, two parents’ evenings and send out an end of year report. Each school will be different but these opportunities to discuss your child and their progress are invaluable and will really help you to support your child’s next steps in learning. In addition to these more formal times, teachers are usually around for a quick question or message in the morning or at the end of the day.’

Supporting your child at home.

Balance time to talk with screen time. ‘The development of communication and language in the early years is key so time spent talking to your child is time well spent. This can range from asking them what their favourite part of the day was, to going on a walk and discussing what you see. When talking to children it is important not to overwhelm them with too many questions, an example of this being after school. When they have already had a busy day lots of questions may be too much. If you are asking a question then try and give your child between 20-30 seconds for them to process it and then give their answer. This feels like a very long time when you first try it but it works!’

Encourage learning through play.

‘Get your child involved with real experiences -going to the supermarket, the park, building a den in the garden, baking cakes, or writing a card for someone in your family. These not only provide amazing experiences but also allow for rich language opportunities.’ ‘How can we ask a child to write a story about going to the park, if they haven’t been to the park and experienced what it is like to be there. How can we talk to them about squelchy mud in a story if they have not stood in mud with bare feet and experienced what squelchy really means? Children need these practical and hands-on experiences in all areas of their learning’.

Share stories and practice phonics.

‘At home, sharing stories is a great way to encourage talk, develop language and model different story structures to your child. Other experiences like visiting a library or the Rutland library bus will only enhance storytelling experiences and make them more exciting.’ ‘In Reception, your child will be taught reading through phonics. This systematic way introduces the sounds one at a time. Each school will approach this in a slightly different way, but the approach or scheme will be based around the government document ‘Letters and Sounds.’


‘Maths comes into so many things we do on a daily basis. As mentioned before when talking about play, it is important for children to experience Maths. This could be weighing ingredients, counting objects, measuring things in the garden or building structures.’ ‘Number knowledge is one part of this. In addition to knowing number names children need to understand what that number actually means and gain a deep understanding of it. For example, be able to visualize 1 as 1 finger, 1 lego brick or 1 leaf. This will also help to develop problem solving skills.’

A good book to help - ‘I spy Number’, Jean Marzollo available on’

Recommended Reads.

To understand the stages of development, we recommend Development Matters - from Birth to 5, this document shows you what a child will typically be doing at that age. It also provides great ideas of what parents, teachers and adults can do to support and extend that learning.

Key Pullouts.

1. Take a snack at pick up helps with your child’s energy levels if they are exhausted.

2. Open book bags when you get home, and gently ask about their day.

3. Read to them and practice their phonics/sounds when they get to it. Don’t stress over this, remember that children learn at their own pace.

4. Give your child plenty of time to process questions you are asking them.

5. Try to balance talking and screen time to help with their communication and language development.

6. Be positive - always talk to your reception teacher if you have any questions/worries.

7. Be part of it - find out if there is a Parent What’s app group, or Facebook group, other parents can give amazing support.

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