Starting School in Reception

In Foundation:

  • The children’s first experiences of school are set within a fun, safe and creative environment.
  • We provide stimulating learning experiences with opportunities to develop their independence.
  • We build self confidence and respect encouraging all children to fulfil their potential.
  • We value our parents’ role in supporting their child’s exciting first steps.

When does my child start school?
Children will start school in the September at the start of the school year following the one in which they turn four years of age. Parents have a legal entitlement for their child to attend on a full-time basis from the beginning of the school year. The school states a preference that parents consider carefully the suitability of this. Whilst the school acknowledges that some children are more ready than others, our experience over many years is that all children need the process of acclimatising to school expectations and routines, to be staged. We have found that the vast majority of young children are most receptive to learning in the mornings. Parents are urged to keep their child part-time for the time they deem most suitable. Start dates for full-time can be September, in November after the half-term holiday or in January after the Christmas holiday.

What do the children do at school?
At the very start of your child’s time at school, we develop daily routines such as carpet time, fruit time, assembly and playtime.  The children take part in a variety of activities both inside and outside the classroom.  There are also guided/focused activities with the teacher or teaching assistant, and so there is a balance of adult-supported or guided and child-initiated or independ ent activities.  Activities may include the role play area, writing or number activities, sand or water, computer, small world, or the art area – to name but a few!

The Seven Areas of Learning and Development
All areas of learning and development are important and interconnected.  Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development; and
  • personal, social and emotional development.

There are also four specific areas, through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied.  These are:

  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world; and
  • expressive arts and design.

Communication and Language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write.

Reading: Children are given to a wide range of reading materials and we encourage children to enjoy favourite stories, rhymes, songs and information books. This develops into handling books for themselves, understanding the concept of a word and linking their increasing phonic and keyword knowledge. Reading books matched to a child’s ability are sent home and we encourage parents to read with their child ‘little and often’ and add comments in their reading record book.

Writing: Children’s early writing starts with simple mark making and develops into an understanding that letters represent sounds and combine to form words which convey meaning. The teacher teaches specific writing skills whilst also providing opportunities to experiment and practice writing through many classroom opportunities. An important part of a child’s writing development is watching adults model writing, so parents can help at home by showing how and why you use writing in different contexts, for example when making shopping lists. Children are taught the correct way to form letters in a systematic way using our school handwriting style.


Phonics and Spelling
: Children are introduced to the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme to develop letter recognition and knowledge of sounds (phonics). They will practice the skills of ‘blending and segmenting’ sounds in words. We also teach them spelling rules and how to spell commonly used words.

150 May 2015 - Cranborne First- by Ash MillsMathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating and simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures. We use a combination of teacher led and independent activities. We use investigations and problem solving activities to develop their understanding and apply their skills. The use of lots of practical activities means that there is limited use of formal recording at this stage.

Physical Development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive, and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children are helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food. The children participate in a range of activities including dance, gym and games.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

Understanding the World involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.

Expressive Arts and Design involves enabling children to explore and play with a range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role play, and design and technology.

Assessing and Reporting your Child’s Progress
During the Summer Term prior to entry, we liaise with playgroups and identify pupils who may need extra support when they join school. We also gather information on other areas including friendships, medical needs and attitudes to learning.  The pre-schools also provide transition information relating to the Areas of Learning.

In the Autumn Term, the Teacher and Teaching Assistant complete ‘Attainment on Entry’ assessments.  These simple observations and informal tasks enable us to find out individual children’s abilities.  The Teacher then has a better understanding of children’s skills, enabling them to plan the next steps in learning.  From then on, your child’s progress is monitored on a regular basis.

Towards the end of the Summer Term, parents will receive a written report containing a summary of your child’s progress at the end of the Foundation Stage.

During the year, we hold formal termly parent consultations.  However, please don’t hesitate to pop in and see your child’s Teacher if you have any queries or concerns.

Ways to Help at Home
Please ensure all items of clothing are clearly labelled, as children often remove sweatshirts during the day.  Also please make sure you check your child’s bookbag each day.  We use these as a way of sending letters home, and of course there are books inside to share with your child.  Over the course of the year, we will be sending home phonics activities and reading books, and we cannot stress enough the importance of home learning to support the learning that happens at school.  We would love to hear how you help your child with learning at home, or how our school topics stimulate your child’s enthusiasm. Please tell us on a ‘WOW! note’.

School Routines
The school day begins at 8:35am when the class doors open. We encourage the children to organise themselves and look after their belongings.  They each have a coat peg and learn where to put bookbags and water bottles.  As children get used to their routines, adults try to step back to enable them to develop independence. During the first few days at school, pupils are given simple activities to help them settle into class, and say goodbye to parents. Parents are encouraged to leave as soon as possible to enable their children to settle quickly, and to minimise anxiety about parting. If your child is reluctant to part from you, remember the best thing is to leave quickly, as the children usually settle down and there are plenty of staff to assist.  Should you have concerns, please feel free to ring to find out how they are doing during the day.

  • Snack time: Children are provided with a free fruit snack in the morning. Parents and can provide their own piece of fruit if they prefer. The purchase of milk can be organised, and children under 5 receive free milk, but it must be ordered.
  • Going Home:Morning school for children attending part-time finishes at 12pm and full-time pupils finish school at 3pm. If you wish to have a chat with the Teacher, please see them at the end of the morning or afternoon.
  • Cranborne First School 178Lunchtimes: Each class is supervised by a Lunchtime Supervisor, who supports the child in both the eating and playing parts of the lunchtime. All Children in Years R, 1 and 2 are entitled to free hot school meals, which are ordered weekly or half-termly. Some families are entitled to free school meals if they are in receipt of certain benefits; please ask the school office for further details.  If your child has a packed lunch, please send food which your child enjoys, in an easy-to-eat way, (e.g. fruit chopped/peeled), in containers/packets that your child can open.
  • First Aid: Should your child have a significant injury at school we will inform you of the first aid treatment administered via a letter.

We look forward to welcoming your child and to working with you.