Life in our Reception Year!
At St Peter’s Church of England Primary School, our stated aim is to provide our children with a wide and fully rounded education, which enables them to develop not only academically, but also socially, emotionally, morally and spiritually. We want our children to leave us as confident, well rounded and happy individuals, who not only feel valued, but who also value both themselves and others.
Obviously this journey begins as the children join us in our Reception class. This is the single most important year in a child’s education. We have to ensure that the children settle happily into our school and that they immediately learn to be positive about learning and are actively engaged in their education. With this in place, we can lay the building blocks for literacy and numeracy which will allow them to succeed as they proceed through their education.
As is common in schools, we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework where the children are continuously assessed against the Early Learning Goals. We assess via observation, discussion, parent and child voice and by looking at the children’s work. You can take a look at the Early Learning Goals for our school here. The Early Years Foundation Stage website also includes a range of resources and contacts which you can access here.
In addition to this information which relates to national guidance, you can also look at the Skills Progression Plan for Early Years which we have drawn up for our school. The progression plan identifies what skills we are trying to develop in our children over the course of their first year here at St Peter’s.
Getting Ready to Start School
Our curriculum is very much about the holistic view of the children and will cover both social and academic milestones. We ask you to talk to your child about starting school and some of the activities he/she will be doing. Many of these will be similar to those carried out in nursery, especially in the first half-term, such as construction, role-play, sand, water, writing, computers and messy area.
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of developing your child’s social abilities; please maximize their opportunities to play with other children and to enjoy activities both with and without you. Please try to expose them to a wide range of social activities, from playing in the park, going to the public swimming pool and taking part in social events. They must develop their ability to interact with other children.
You can help to develop your child’s attention skills your child by playing games at home – dice games, dominoes, snakes and ladders and similar board games give children a wonderful start to their education and learning. They learn about numbers, patterns, colours, shapes, how to share and learn to wait for someone else to have a go, as well as just having fun!
In addition, please try to develop their life skills as much as possible. Please encourage them to listen to instructions, to take turns and to be patient. We would also greatly appreciate it if you could develop their ability to go to the toilet independently and to wash their hands! Children also need to be able to use cutlery and to eat their own food. Further, it is always tricky getting dressed and undressed; putting trousers on the right way round and making sure that shoes are on the correct feet are difficult skills when you are four!
How Can I Help My Child When They Start School?
Starting school is an exciting milestone in your child’s life. It is a moment that you will want to photograph and remember, and a vast majority of children will be extremely excited as they don their uniform and prepare for ‘big school’ for the first time. But we do appreciate that a smaller number are anxious at the thought of starting at school. We are also fully aware that a larger number of parents can be anxious about their child coming into school! It is natural to be concerned about whether they will settle, make friends and be happy.
We hold our taster days in the summer term to allow your child to get used to coming into the reception classroom before they join us in September. We also hold our transition meeting for adults when we explain in detail about life in the Reception class and how things are organized.
Over the summer holiday please talk to your child about their joining us. Read stories about starting school and talk to your child about the things that you did when you were at school. Talk about the routines that you will have once school starts so that they will know what to expect. Have a look at the pictures on our school website to help your child become familiar with the adults who will be working with them and the classroom and outdoor environment.
A typical day in our Early Years Foundation Stage classes at St Peter’s consists of a wide range of different activities which address each of the key areas of learning and development.
Teacher Directed Activities
This is when an adult plans and leads the children’s learning in small groups or whole class sessions. An adult-led activity can be either objective led with clear aims linked to the curriculum, such as mathematics and literacy (reading and writing), or open ended, where adults observe and support learning during the activity and consider next steps based on children’s responses.
If a child is to succeed in their subsequent education, it is of fundamental importance that they develop the ability to speak, read and write. To this end, if you have any concerns regarding your child’s speech or with their hearing, please raise this with the nursery/playschool if they attend such, or take them to a doctor if they don’t. In Reception, our major focus is the development of the child’s language skills. At the heart of this is the development of the child’s phonics knowledge. We will spend a great deal of time developing the children’s ability in this area.
We know that parents like to support their child’s learning at home. To support parents in helping in what is a very specific and quite complicated area, you can use the video clip to learn how the different letter sounds are pronounced: Letter Sounds (YouTube)
Parents may find this website useful (free resources available):
We will also formally assess each child’s language skills and we will provide targeted intervention for any who need support in this area.
Child Initiated Activities
Our children are given the opportunity to plan what they would like to do and in which area of the classroom (inside or out) that they would like to do it. We encourage our children to talk to a friend about what they might do. After planning the children then participate in their chosen activity. At this time adults can support the children’s learning which allows for in depth observations of their understanding.
During investigation and child initiated activities, adults also initiate lots of different activities for our children to take part in if they wish. This is a good opportunity to introduce them to new skills and concepts.
At the end of the session, the children are given the opportunity to review their learning, which follows a similar structure as planning time. It is an important part of our curriculum to encourage our children to become independent learners. This includes encouraging them to collect their own resources and tidy away after themselves!
It is vital that not only are your children safe, happy and actively engaged whilst at school, but that parents feel assured that this is the case. To this end, it is vital that you feel able to communicate with us to a sufficient degree.
With regard to formal reporting, we hold parent consultations three times during the academic year and which will give you guidance on what they are able to do and what their next learning steps are. Unlike the rest of the school, who receive a major written report mid-year, for the Reception children you will receive your child’s Early Years Foundation Stage profile report in term 6.
However, more importantly, our Reception staff are on hand at the beginning and end of each school day. Your children will be taken off you and then returned to you once the day is over. Both you and the children need the day to start with a calm, organised and safe hand over. You need to end in the same manner. As the first few days’ progress, the Reception staff will ask that parents play a less obvious role at handover and that the children’s entry into school becomes as routine as possible. This can be hard for some parents, but it is crucial! If parents are anxious at handover, this can transmit to the children. We want the start of the day to be as routine as possible. Partly that involves you feeling assured that we are caring for your child. Rest assured, we are.