Child holding Play makes Sense First Day of School Board

Starting School

Starting School

Read on to find out what you should expect when it comes to reading and writing in Reception and how you can best support your child at home. 

Its okay to be nervous! 

Its okay for both your child and YOU to be nervous about starting school. Starting school is a massive change for both of you. School will be a place where your child will spend the majority of their day. It is totally natural for you to worry about them being happy and successful in this new setting. 

A slow start

When your child starts school, the first half term will be about getting them used to their new setting and routines. Some schools may begin a few learning activities during this time, while others may not. 


During the first half term, your child's teacher will assess their current reading level. Most children will start Reception with very basic reading skills and a limited knowledge of letters and sounds. This is absolutely normal and expected! 

Once your child's teacher is aware of their reading level, they will start to send home weekly reading books for you to explore with your child. 

Most children will start off with books that have no words. Make time to sit down and look through these books with your child. Talk about what is happening un the pictures and encourage them to make predictions about what will happen next. 

At some point, your child will move onto books with words. Initially, the sentences in these books will be very basic and repetitive. Encourage your child to point to each word as they read, and to sound out the word if they need to. 
Developing fluency is a long and slow process. Be patient and try not to get frustrated! 
Child reading a book.
Learning to write is a slower process than learning to read. Children need to use a huge about of brain processing power when writing. They need to think about the sentence they want to write, they need to break the sentence down into individual words and then, they need to segment each word into its individual sounds. On top of that they also need to think about letter formation!

Before your child begins to write recognisable letters, they will "write' with squiggles and lines. These marks will have meaning to them and they will often be able to "read" to you exactly what they have written. 

Make sure you praise any mark making or writing attempt. When children feel successful, they are more likely to keep trying. 

Once your child is able to make phonetically plausible attempts at words, their teacher will create opportunities for them to practise writing lists or captions. They will then move onto sentences and finally, by the end of Reception, basic narratives. 

How can I help my child?

Finding a little time each day to explore a book together will really help develop your child's reading skills. 

Try setting up a writing area somewhere at home. It doesn't have to be anything big or lavish. Some paper and a selection of pens is enough to get your child excited about writing. 

If you are looking for more ways to support your child with reading and writing throughout their Reception year, take a look at out Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4 Phonics Activity Cards, or grab yourself a bargain with the Reception Phonics Bundle.