Moving from reception to year 1

Katie Paynter, Head of Pre-Prep at St Nicholas Prep tells us what to expect when children transition to Year 1

Now that the summer term is upon us, teachers, parents and children all begin to consider the next academic year.  Some of us do this with experience and excitement, but others, particularly parents who have their first child in Reception, may do so with some trepidation.   

Leaving Reception and moving into Year 1 can feel like an enormous step for children and their parents. Rest assured a child’s Year 1 teacher is there to make this transition easier, by supporting the children (and their parents!) in their next learning steps. Years of experience has shown me how Year 1 teachers continually remark about the children returning from their summer breaks, looking taller, more self-assured and ready for the challenges of the new academic year.

A good school will make the transition into Year 1 a smooth one. Children will still be learning practically; they will still be exploring, discovering and investigating. That said, your child’s day will be more structured than it was in Reception.  They will have to sit at a table for a little longer than they are currently used to! Don’t be too concerned though; expectations on the children will be incremental, and they certainly won’t be expected to focus on a task for the same length of time in September as they will be the following June!  

It is important to trust the teachers; they will know what is right for your child.  Schools will have a thorough handover between class teachers, and there is quite rightly a particular focus on this in the transition between Reception and Year 1.  So be assured, your child’s new class teacher will know their social, emotional and academic strengths and areas for further support. Those individual foibles, medical needs, and even dietary requirements will be communicated – it’s all part of the transition process and the staff really do understand how important this process is.  So, do take great comfort in this.

Over the years, I have found that parental anxieties about the transition from Reception into Year 1 do have an impact on children.  I’ve heard parents say ‘You’re going to have to work much harder next year’, all too many times. It’s so important that you focus on things that are genuinely tangible and positive – seeing friends again, the exciting trips, and the extra-curricular activities they will enjoy over the forthcoming year.

School is absolutely exhausting for any child in Year 1. They are undoubtedly learning so many new things in and out of the classroom and are also likely to be embracing the extra-curricular activities programme as well.  I can assure you that schools have your child at their best – sadly, you genuinely have to manage the overtiredness and associated behaviours!

Once they are in Year 1 and should you want to do more than reading, spelling and number bonds with them at home, do disguise the learning – try counting out the cutlery for dinner, baking a cake or measuring up for new curtains.   They shouldn’t have to sit at a table and focus quietly after such a busy day. They are only 5 or 6 years old and should be relishing the time to play and enjoying themselves – cherish this time; it disappears all too quickly!

Katie Paynter, Head of Pre-Prep

St Nicholas Preparatory School

23, Prince’s Gate, London


0207 225 1277