The Transition from Reception to Year One

transition from reception to year oneWe’re currently in the midst of H’s transition from Reception to Year One, so I’ve been doing some research on it and thought I’d share it with you.

Differences Between Reception and Year One

  • There’s a change from a play-based curriculum to a more structured one.  The Foundation stage (for nursery/preschool and Reception class) is built on different principles to the Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) curriculum and many teachers feel they are too different.
  • There’s a need for children to be independent, have longer concentration spans and be good listeners. KS1 (Key Stage 1) classes will involve spending more of their time listening to the teacher or concentrating on tasks.
  • Children miss the chance to play as much and sometimes worry about the work.

Handling the transition from Reception to Year One

Understand the Change from Reception to Year One

If you understand the change that your child is going through, it will be easier to support them through it.

  • Read up about the differences in the curriculum
  • Talk to the class teacher(s) to understand how their day will be different
  • Talk to parents who children have been through the experience in previous years

Limit the Effects of the Transition from Reception to Year One

  • Keep up your consistent school term time routines to limit the amount of change going on in their lives.  Similarly, this is not the time to tackle night-time toilet training, etc.

Emphasize the Positives of the Transition from Reception to Year One

  • Pick out the highlights:  Will be more grown up/will learn to do this or learn about that (be specific so find out what skills and topics they will be covering in the first half term and emphasize those that will appeal to your child).
  • Provide some treats outside of school to counterbalance the more structured school day.  Go to the park on the way home from school.  Factor in some downtime at home before tackling reading books and spellings.
  • Talk to them about the transition from Reception to Year One.  If they have older siblings you can refer to the sibling’s experiences.  It would be useful to read a storybook together about the process or about change in general, but I’ve been unable to find any that seem relevant enough (they are mostly about starting school or dealing with family breakup, death, etc.  If you’re feeling creative you could make up your own story and if you can think of any books that would be useful, please let me know in the comments.



  1. says

    Last year, small was in year 1 and they introduced homework. It came with a note, that if the homework couldn’t be completed, for whatever reason (for example, your child might have many after school activities, a family event to attend, illness or just too tired)…then not to worry, just do what your child can.

    I had a chat to smalls teacher about homework and expectations and she was very happy with what small was doing (we manage most weeks homework) and felt our reading together came first and was more important.

    Good Luck with your smalls transition to year 1
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    • Erica says

      They haven’t seemed quite so relaxed about the homework at H’s school, but we may find out more in a few weeks as we can go in for a session to work with the children and find out more about what they do.
      I’d agree though that reading together is so important. Not only do they learn a lot from it, but I think it’s valuable one to one time for them.

  2. Notmyyearoff says

    Wow there’s subtle differences and some are white significant. Hope H settles in soon. Must be such a big change for him and then to get homework is another new thing too.
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  3. Maya Russell says

    I think in the last term of Foundation they should slowly start preparing them for less play, more need to listen for a longer period of time and start making it more structured. It would make it easier for the children to begin to get a feel for year 1 in a class environment they are familiar with.

  4. says

    When mine moved up, they kept play areas but made them significantly smaller. Also, they tend to ensure that classroom “lessons” are very activity based and they don’t tend to notice that they are working and not playing.

    I think Y2 is even harder – especially as they have (internally marked) SATs at the end of the year. The amount of things they are expected to know by the end of that year is huge!

    Don’t forget though, good teachers will manage every transition from year to year – it’s slightly unsettling at any age. Our school has moving on afternoons at the end of the summer term which they spend in their new classrooms with their new teachers, doing a small project. It also allows the new reception intake some time in school too. The children get inordinately excited about this, which can only be a positive thing.
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    • Erica says

      Thanks Kate. I’ve been worried about H as he cried 3 mornings running at the thought of going in the school door. Today was much better so hoping he’s over the hump of it. He did have 2 days in Year One last term, but it still seemed to be a shock to the system. Will have to read up on Year Two at some point – no doubt it will come round before I know it.

  5. Caroline Hammond says

    My son has just started year 1 and he seems to be really enjoying it which is great as he wasn’t keen on reception

  6. says

    I’m experiencing some difficulties with my youngest who has just gone into Yr 1. She’s finding the transition hard work, and yesterday said she had too many things swimming around in her brain. I knew it would be hard and she’s been crying in the mornings a little. Her older sister (now Yr 4) didn’t have this problem and was more than ready for less play and more structure. It’s all down to the child I guess and I think your tips on helping them are spot on. Let’s hope they settle into the term as quickly as possible :)
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