Katie Paynter gives advice on what to expect in Reception

What to expect in Reception

As you read this article, some of your children will have just joined Reception. You may still be feeling a little anxious as your child settles into their new learning environment; rest assured they will adjust and will begin to take the new routines and expectations in their stride. A child’s year in Reception is key and thus each child is designated a key person. This may be their class teacher or teaching assistant. They are invaluable in supporting your child and will both spend time in acquainting them as an individual with unique interests and aptitudes.

Children in Reception learn holistically, thus most of the time learning will embrace two or more areas of learning simultaneously. If your child spends the majority of time in the sand area, there is no need to be concerned. They may well be developing a multitude of skills; working with different materials and shapes, quantity and volume, creating imaginative worlds and even developing motor skills and strength for writing!

Learning will be through exploration and investigation, participation and creating and thinking critically. Play is instrumental in approach. For 4 and 5 year olds play can be rather tiring (and messy!) and so be prepared for your child to be a little mono-syllabic (and dirty!) when they come home! Don’t worry though, as time goes by, they will gradually let you into their new world.
In Reception there is a drive on phonics; a learning area which proves particularly daunting for parents early in the school year. Do not be concerned; schools generally use specific phonics schemes such as Read, Write Inc. or Letters and Sounds. Generally, all will use the 44 phonic sounds and 18 diagraphs (two letters making one sound) to read and spell words. The schemes progress gradually, and without doubt strategies to support your child will be given by the school.
Once secure in early sounds children will be given reading books. You will probably be asked to fill in a reading diary each time you read with your child. This can be a useful communication tool, so do take the time to make an entry. Do read to your child and encourage them to read to you. Try not to rely on scheme books. The broader the exposure to literature the better. Try to encourage your child to talk about the pictures, or to make predictions. It is most important for your child to enjoy reading, so try to relax, and stop if they begin to feel in any way anxious.

Your child will be informally observed throughout their time in Reception to assess your child’s learning. You can do this too by making simple WOW observations at home. These can be added to your child’s Learning Journey. This can be a simple book or an electronic portfolio held at school. The latter affords you the opportunities to login and view photographs, video clips and observations of your child in their world.

Relish the year ahead with your child; it will go quickly, so it is important to cherish every moment you can!