Cherry, Holly and Willow Classes

The Reception Curriculum

Wherever possible, the children are given the freedom to explore their own interests and develop their understanding and skills through activities and contexts which they enjoy. They predominantly learn through meaningful play and the classrooms are carefully designed to ensure that all children are able to access all of their own resources and follow their own lines of enquiry. Staff are trained to interact with the children in order to move their thinking and their learning forward. Alongside this, the children will experience three main topics per year to inspire and broaden their experiences. The Reception topics can be found below. 

Click the links below to see the Parent Overview for each topic:

Reception is the final year of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which children will have been working in at preschools and playgroups. There are seven areas of learning and development that shape learning in Reception. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly important for building a foundation for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, forming relationships and thriving. These three areas, the prime areas, are: communication and language; physical development; and personal, social and emotional development. We also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are: literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design. At the end of the Reception year, we assess all of our children against the Early Learning Goals. These are shown through the bullet points below.

Prime Curriculum Areas

Communication and language

The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, our Early Year’s staff build children’s language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from staff, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.

Children at the expected level of development will:

– Listen attentively and respond to what they hear with relevant questions, comments and actions when being read to and during whole class discussions and small group interactions
– Make comments about what they have heard and ask questions to clarify their understanding
– Hold conversation when engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with their teacher and peers
– Participate in small group, class and one-to-one discussions, offering their own ideas, using recently introduced vocabulary
– Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate
– Express their ideas and feelings about their experiences using full sentences, including use of past, present and future tenses and making use of conjunctions, with modelling and support from their teacher

Personal, social and emotional development

Children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is crucial for children to lead healthy and happy lives, and is fundamental to their cognitive development. Underpinning their personal development are the important attachments that shape their social world. Strong, warm and supportive relationships with adults enable children to learn how to understand their own feelings and those of others. Children are supported to manage emotions, develop a positive sense of self, set themselves simple goals, have confidence in their own abilities, to persist and wait for what they want and direct attention as necessary. Through adult modelling and guidance, they will learn how to look after their bodies, including healthy eating, and manage personal needs independently. Through supported interaction with other children, they learn how to make good friendships, co-operate and resolve conflicts peaceably. These attributes will provide a secure platform from which children can achieve at school and in later life.

Children at the expected level of development will:
– Show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and begin to regulate their behaviour accordingly
– Set and work towards simple goals, being able to wait for what they want and control their immediate impulses when appropriate
– Give focused attention to what the teacher says, responding appropriately even when engaged in activity, and show an ability to follow instructions involving several ideas or actions
– Be confident to try new activities and show independence, resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge
– Explain the reasons for rules, know right from wrong and try to behave accordingly
– Manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs, including dressing, going to the toilet and understanding the importance of healthy food choices
– Work and play cooperatively and take turns with others
– Form positive attachments to adults and friendships with peers
– Show sensitivity to their own and to others’ needs

Physical development 

Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, Early Year’s adults support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility. Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye co-ordination, which is linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practice of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.

Children at the expected level of development will:
– Negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for themselves and others
– Demonstrate strength, balance and coordination when playing
– Move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing
– Hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing – using the tripod grip in almost all cases
– Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paint brushes and cutlery
– Begin to show accuracy and care when drawing

Specific Curriculum Areas


We firmly believe that it is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught throughout the Reception year and beyond, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing)

Children at the expected level of development will:
– Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary
– Anticipate – where appropriate – key events in stories
– Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play
– Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs
– Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending
– Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words
– Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed 
– Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters
– Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others


Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding – such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting – children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, our curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Children at the expected level of development will:
– Have a deep understanding of number to 10, including the composition of each number
– Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5
– Automatically recall (without reference to rhymes, counting or other aids) number bonds up to 5 (including subtraction facts) and some number bonds to 10, including double facts
– Verbally count beyond 20, recognising the pattern of the counting system 
– Compare quantities up to 10 in different contexts, recognising when one quantity is greater than, less than or the same as the other quantity
– Explore and represent patterns within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds, double facts and how quantities can be distributed equally

Understanding the World

Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community. The frequency and range of children’s personal experiences increases their knowledge and sense of the world around them – from visiting parks, libraries and museums to meeting important members of society such as police officers, nurses and firefighters. In addition, listening to a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems will foster their understanding of our culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse world. As well as building important knowledge, this extends their familiarity with words that support understanding across domains. Enriching and widening children’s vocabulary will support later reading comprehension.

Children at the expected level of development will:
– Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society
– Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class
– Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling
– Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps
– Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class
– Explain some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts and – when appropriate – maps
– Explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants
– Know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class
– Understand some important processes and changes in the natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter

Expressive Arts and Design

The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. Our children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling  them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.

Children at the expected level of development will:
– Safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function
– Share their creations, explaining the process they have used
– Make use of props and materials when role playing characters in narratives and stories
– Invent, adapt and recount narratives and stories with peers and their teacher 
– Sing a range of well-known nursery rhymes and songs
– Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and – when appropriate – try to move in time with music