Guest post – Tips on moving from Reception to Year 1

In just a few short weeks, Zach will be heading into Year One. He already previously told me that he was worried about the lesser amount of play that happens, and just this week he has mentioned how much he will miss us when he goes back to school. Whilst I am hoping that he will simply pick up where he left off, and go in with that big smiley face, make a fuss of his friends, and gel immediately with his new teacher, I also know that there is a chance that the change might throw him a little bit, and that we might have a slightly more reluctant school boy. He is not the best with change, he likes what he knows and it can take him a while to get used to new things. I am sure I am not the only one with a child heading into Year 1, and so I have gotten my lovely friend Cherry to write a post for me, full of super information and top tips for the transition from Reception to Year 1. I will hand you straight over to Cherry 🙂 

The first year of Primary School is such a big step.  So many firsts! First school uniform, first school lunch, first assembly, first reading book, first nativity play.  It can feel as though every week is a first, and it’s all very new and exciting both for us as adults and our children.  Getting to the end of the first year also feels like a huge accomplishment. Your child has managed to negotiate the rather choppy waters of social interaction, friendships, school rules and general tiredness.  Then July hits and it’s over and we all breathe a sigh of relief!


Year 1 is looming on the horizon and somehow it almost feels as though we are heading back into the unknown waters of a whole heap of firsts!  Year 1 can feel like a whole new ball game and it is understandable that both you, and your child, may be feeling a little apprehensive about what the new year will bring.  After all, in Reception it was all about learning through play, small group work, free access to the outdoor area and lots of free time to socialise and play throughout the day.  In some schools, Reception children have their lunch at different times to the rest of the school, don’t have to go to Assemblies on a regular basis and often have their own small playground to play in.  So Year 1 definitely feels like a bigger deal!


So what are the main differences between Year 1 and Reception?

  • In Year 1, there is a distinct move away from learning through play to a more formal based way of learning.  Children will be given table spaces for their lessons and will be expected to work at their tables most of the time.  They will be given exercise books and taught how to format pieces of writing throughout the year, with a big emphasis on writing on the lines and in the squares.
  • Year 1 is often seen as the actual beginning to the school, as opposed to Reception which is often more separate.  Year 1 children will be expected to attend Assembly with the rest of the school, learning how to sit quietly for an extended period of time.  They will also have their lunch at the same time as the rest of Key Stage 1 which will probably mean dealing with more noise and children than they are used to.
  • There may be more formal homework in the upcoming terms, which may consist of reading, spelling and a piece of written homework, to be returned at a specific day each week.
  • There will be much less adult support in the classroom – and in some schools there may only be a teacher with no extra support. So the children will be expected to work more independently than they may have done before.
  • Teachers will expect, over the Christmas term, for the children to be able to follow instructions that are either verbal or written on the board, and will be looking for them to manage their own learning and organisation a little more than in Reception.


That all sounds a bit grown up for my child – will they cope?

Although the differences are quite marked, be reassured that schools and teachers won’t expect children to be able to do all these things from day 1. They will be encouraging them to be more independent and will talk to the children about the expectations of Year 1, but they will ease the children in.  Most schools do the following:

  • Have about a half a term transition between Reception and Year 1.  You might not know but your child’s school will have already introduced a slightly more formal way of teaching towards the end of Reception to get the children ready.
  • They will probably still have periods of learning through play, mixed in with the more formal teaching styles.  A lot of schools really understand and appreciate the benefits of learning through play, even higher up in the school, and often use the afternoon sessions in this way.
  • The Year 1 teachers will practice walking and sitting in assembly with the children so they understand the expectations, and will spend a good few weeks teaching the children about lining up for lunch, how to manage working at tables and small things such as putting their hands up to answer questions.


How can I prepare my child for Year 1?

The best and easiest thing you can do is to just chat to your child as you are going about the summer holidays, about how exciting Year 1 will be and how much more grown up they will be now they are in Year 1.  Although the changes feel really big to us as adults, as children they will easily adapt to the new expectations, which will be gently guided by the teacher. However there are a few things you can do to help your child slide into Year 1 with ease.

  • Use the summer to help them learn any dressing skills they are struggling with.  As there is less teacher support in Year 1, it’s really important that they can change for PE themselves, and get their jumpers on and off.  But don’t worry if it’s taking a little longer to be able to do any of these things – the teachers will always help out any child who is struggling!
  • Give your child a little more responsibility over the summer for their things.  Encourage them to find their own hats, water bottles, sunglasses and have a special place to put them.  Things always go missing in schools and it’s normally because children put their things down and can’t remember what they did with them!
  • If your child isn’t really into sitting for long periods of time, try to extend the time they can sit and concentrate for, by watching TV together or reading a book together and building the amount of time they are doing it for slowly over the weeks.
  • As you get closer to September, make sure that your child has a good sleeping routine.  They are bound to be more tired this September, and having a set bedtime and wake up time will really help matters.


Year 1 is a really fun year where children grow so much more independent and it is a joy to watch both as a parent and as a teacher.  Even though you may be a little apprehensive now, come the first few days in September, it will be as though your child has always been in Year 1!

Cherry is a former Primary Headteacher and teacher of 10 years, and is a mum to 6 year old Alex and 8 year old Estelle.  She blogs over at The Newby Tribe where she gives support, advice and inspiration to primary school teachers and support to parents of primary aged children. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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