St Marys Catholic Primary

In This Section
Starting at St Marys

We welcome you and your child to the Reception class and hope you find the following information useful and informative. It is written to enable the transfer to main school to be a happy time for you and your child.

Before your child begins the Reception class, (s)he will have had many valuable experiences at home with you and in the playgroups and nursery (s)he has attended. The reception class builds upon and develops these learning experiences.


Between birth and the age of five years, more happens to a child than in any other five years of life. Children learn how to control their bodies, to speak and to form ideas of their own.

Through play, children begin to socialise, explore language and communicate with others and this increases their knowledge of the world around them.

Play encourages children to exercise their imagination, to try out ideas, to practise grown-up behaviour and to develop a sense of control over their world.

Children have an enormous amount of curiosity, which leads them to ask questions and, therefore, learn. 

Types of Play 

Children need experiences of different types of play:

·         exploratory play, e.g. sand and water

·         creative, e.g. constructions, painting

·         imaginative, e.g. riding a bike, creative situations, pretending to sail on a Pirate ship

·         imitative, e.g. action rhymes, setting the table

Children gradually develop skills and knowledge from these types of activity.

The best playthings are those which give the children experience of colours, materials, textures, shapes, noises and movement. They should also encourage children to develop their co-ordination. Expensive toys are not necessarily the best - many household objects (make sure they're safe) make good playthings, e.g. empty boxes, plastic bottles, etc.

How Can I Help My Child Before He/She Starts School?

You can help your child before he/she starts school by talking, listening and discussing with him/her on every possible occasion. Give your child as many experiences outside and inside the home as possible, use these to stimulate his/her interest and activity.

Children under the age of seven learn faster than at any other time in their life. Therefore, what they experience and learn during those early years is the foundation for the rest of their lives. For very young children, play is the best kind of learning.

What Should My Child be Able To Do When He/She starts School?

It would be helpful if your child has had experience of:-

1. Recognising his/her own name which should be written in lower case letters, e.g. John - not JOHN.

2. Beginning to understand Numbers by using them in play and helping with tasks such as cooking / tidying-up.

3. Using words associated with mathematics - ideas of comparisons, i.e. more than/less than, bigger than/smaller than, taller/shorter, heavier/lighter, etc.

4. Developing listening skills by listening to stories and responding to instructions.

5. Sharing toys and being prepared to take turns.

6. Recognising his/her belongings.

7. Dressing and undressing him/herself. The less assistance children need with tricky socks, buttons and laces the more confident they feel and this is a great help to the teacher.

8. Going to the toilet independently, managing school uniform clothing. 
9. Washing and drying hands.

10. Using a knife and fork.

11. Using a handkerchief.

12. Developing concentration by doing jigsaws and other puzzles. Using construction toys, etc.

13. Tidying and clearing away toys.


What Happens If My Child Is Upset On The First Day

As you are aware, it is not uncommon for a child to be anxious and upset on the first day of school. Please don't worry if your child does cry. The majority of children will calm down when the parent has left. Your child's teacher will settle and comfort your child and focus his/her attention on something else.

Starting school can be very exhausting. Don't be surprised if your child comes home very tired. Try not to ask him/her what (s)he did at school today as soon as you see him/her. Children need time to relax and unwind after school and given time, will undoubtedly share their news and stories with you.

Common Fears and Worries:

We hope that the following statements will alleviate some of the common fears and worries experienced by many new children and parents:

1. Children can go to the toilet as often as they need to and the teacher will not be cross if there is an ‘accident’.

2. We encourage all pupils to eat their school dinner, or packed lunch prepared for them, but no child will be forced to eat food he or she does not like. We would be grateful if parents indicate to us any food allergy a child may have.

3. Transferring to the main school playground may also be a worry for your child as it is a large area shared by all main school pupils.

Before Starting Reception

Should I Teach My Child How To Write His/Her Name

Yes, if your child shows interest. We suggest that you write your child's name, with an initial capital letter and the remaining letters in lower case and let your child trace over the top of your writing.

How Can I Help My Child With Writing?

Young children usually enjoy writing. Encourage your child to draw and write by providing crayons, pencils, pens, chalks and lots of things to write on. Your child will learn to write by experimenting and this should be encouraged. Early writing may be in the form of `scribble', symbols or random letters. Don't worry if your child cannot attempt to read what he/she has written. Try to read it with him/her. This is the way to conventional writing and accurate reading. Let your child see you writing.

Encourage your child to recite nursery rhymes and repetitive stories. Give your children the opportunity to predict the end of the story.

There may be times when you get tired of hearing `read it again'. Be patient, there is probably a very good reason why your child loves to hear you read the same words over and over again, such repetition is, in fact, laying firm foundations for your child to learn to read. 

How Can I Help My Child with Reading Development When (s)he Starts School?

During your child's first term at school, he will bring home, words, picture books and simple texts to share with you. A record book will also be in the reading folder for you and the teacher to share information about your child's progress.

When reading with your child the following points may be helpful:-

1. Make sure the child can see the print and pictures. Sit comfortably and enjoy the book together.

2. Discuss the pictures.

3. Talk about the characters and the action. Ask questions like "What do you think will happen next?"

4. Read the story slowly, pointing carefully to the words with the child's finger or your own. This will get your child familiar with print going left to right.

5. Encourage your child to share in the telling/reading of the story.

6. Let him/her recite the story to you.

7. Encourage him/her to point to the words. He/she may not point accurately at first, but in time this will come.

8. When your child can point accurately to the words, draw his/attention to individual words in the text. Ask questions like, "Can you point to the word `cat'?". "Can you find a word beginning with the sound (not letter, name) `b' as in `ball' or `button'?".

How Can I Help My Child With Mathematics?

Undoubtedly, you are already involved in teaching your child mathematical skills in every day situations, e.g. laying the table. Help your child to enjoy and see the value of maths by involving him/her in some of the following activities;


Activity: Unpacking the shopping

Questions: Can you sort all the things that go into the fridge/cupboard?

Can you sort the big tins from the small tins?


Activity: Laying the table

Questions: How many knives have I set out? 

How many forks will we need?

Do we have enough plates?

Have we set out too many cups?


Activity: Comparing shoe sizes

Questions: Whose feet are the biggest/smallest?

Whose feet are the widest/narrowest?


Activity: Weighing / measuring cooking ingredients

Questions: Can you fill the jug with milk so that it is full?

Can you fill the cup with water so that it is half full?


Activity: Preparing for a birthday

Questions: How old will you be on your next birthday?

How many candles will you need on your cake?

Activity: Discussing the time of day

Questions: What did you do at nursery this morning?

What would you like to do this afternoon?

Can you remember what we did yesterday?

Tomorrow we're going to.........


Activity: Encourage your child to count anything and everything, e.g the number of stairs/steps as he/she climbs them.

Questions: Sharing sweets

Activity: Can you share the sweets equally between you and your sister?
Have you got the same number of sweets in each pile?

 (Always count objects by placing your finger on each one as you count).

Model Making

Encourage your child to make models, using his/her own ideas with old shoe boxes, cereal packets, kitchen foil, margarine tubs, lolly sticks and all other recyclable materials.

Please remember to value all your child's attempts and put them on display.


During your child’s time in Reception, their teachers will be observing his/her progress and achievement. At the end of the school year, these assessments will be recorded in your child’s Profile. You too will receive a report of your child’s achievement at the end of the school year.