Reception (Early Years)

Learning in Reception


Characteristics of Effective Learning

Learning Journals


Reading Diaries

Red and Green Cards

Jambo the Orangutan

Show and Tell

Mystery Reader

Learning Overview

Topics for Reception 2016 to 2017



“We do not stop playing because we grow old

We grow old because we stop playing”

George Bernard Shaw


The approach to learning is through play in Reception.  We value play as a way for your child to consolidate and practise his/her learning and for us to observe how your child learns and to note his/her secure learning.  The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum was revised in 2012 which set more challenging outcomes for the children.


In Reception we have a class 0rangutan called Ginger.  The role of Ginger is to introduce, guide and challenge.  Every day there is at least one Ginger challenge to do with an adult. The learning areas have challenges as suggestions for learning.  These are completed independently with an adult moving between the areas offering support and asking questions.  In this way learning is posed as a question to be solved.  This encourages your child to give a purpose to his/her learning and then to work out how to tackle solving different types of problems.  We give children a chance to reflect, evaluate and talk about their learning so they are better prepared to face future challenges.  In addition, we encourage children to support each other as experts or teachers.  A child can only teach if they have a good understanding of the learning.


Other Challenges


Writing and physical (fine motor) challenge –these are displayed on the wall in the classroom.  They are used as part of feedback and marking and they encourage the children to reflect and talk about their achievements and next challenge for learning. 


We always celebrate and focus on your child’s successes and view mistakes as a positive aid to learning.  Getting it wrong can be exciting because it introduces something new to learn.


Counting and number challenges

These are hierarchical and the children start on one flower and then when they are confident with the challenge they can move on to the next flower.


The challenges are displayed on flowers or plants to signify that this is the next growing green/challenge to tackle.  This links to the marking scheme in the school – tickled pink for challenges achieved and growing green for the next challenge.



“What is important is that we have the ability to create.

However, difficult life may seem, there is always

something you can do and succeed at.”

Professor Stephen Hawking

Opening ceremony of Paralympic Games 2012


Ginger is also the focus for the class rules. These are agreed with the children in the form of dos and don’ts and displayed in the classroom alongside the key values introduced and promoted in the school of Friendship, Respect, Perseverance and Courage.  These values permeate throughout the school and are used in collective worship in order to show a clear link to Christianity.


The Gallery of Success proved a valuable way for the children to display work they are proud of.  Each child has an opportunity to display work completed at school and/or at home.  This is linked to the characteristics of effective learning and the children are encouraged to offer an explanation for choosing  a particular piece of work and this explanation is displayed with the work.


Characteristics of Effective Learning and the prime and specific areas of Learning


“The ways in which the child engages with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all area and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.


The prime areas are fundamental, work together, and are moved through to support development in all other areas.  They are: Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication and Language and Physical Development.


The specific areas include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society.  They are:  Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.”


There is a display in the classroom and the main hallway about the characteristics of learning.  This is a whole school initiative and was started in Preschool.  There is have a go mouse, persevering tortoise and the thinking pigs.  There is a story of Sky High Farm which puts these animals and the learning they represent into context.  Children can have their successes displayed on either board as a reward.  In addition, there is another board on which the children can place their photo to show which aspect of learning they have been most successful at.  The characteristics of learning help the children to understand how they learn and provide them with the vocabulary to talk about learning.


Learning Journal


These provide a continuous communication throughout the year between home and school.  I offer ideas on how you can support your child at home in one aspect of learning each week.  Sometimes this might include a piece of work.  I welcome comments from parents as this enables good communication between home and school.  It has been proved that the help parents give their children at home supporting the learning in school has a noticeable impact on achievement and progress.  I know it is time consuming but it is really useful for me when you make comments or ask questions.  I am happy for your child to write or do something in the journal.  Use your discretion so that they do not use too many pages each week.  The learning journals are sent home on Friday and need to be returned on Monday for us to prepare the next week’s entry.  In Reception most of your child’s work will be collated in a challenge folder and learning log.  The learning log is a record of independent learning without an adult and observations and the challenge folder is for learning with an adult.  You will be given opportunities to look at both of these with your child.  If you would like to see your child’s work then please come in with them on Friday after school.  If you wish to come in on a different day please see Mrs Freeman to make sure this is possible.   




A teddy going over the rainbow is the basis of the reward system in Reception.  Every time the class manages to get to the end of the rainbow the children can choose a reward.  As a collaborative reward everyone contributes and enjoys the reward.


We use choices and consequences, ignoring unacceptable (as far as possible) and rewarding acceptable behaviour giving time out to calm down.  We feel this will be a better way for your child to focus on positive behaviour and reflect on and understand unwanted behaviour.


Children are rewarded for exceptional behaviour by being allowed to put a leaf on the values tree.  This is completed with the Head teacher or Assistant Head teacher and displayed in the entrance.


Reading Diaries


Reading diaries will be sent home with a reading book. The diaries need to be returned on Monday and Thursday to the box in the classroom. It would be useful if you could remind your child to give the book to us because even though we ask the children still forget to put them in the basket. A reading book will be sent home on Tuesday and Friday.  If you wish to keep a book for longer it is fine to do that but I shall be looking at your comments on a Monday as there is not always time on other days. You can always ask a question, make a comment in the journal or talk to me after school.


Red and Green Cards


I have red and green cards of words for you to use at home.  Red words are words that cannot be sounded out and need to be remembered.  It is better to take time and learn a few words each week (to read and write at random) rather than taking the longer lists and learning the words by rote that can be forgotten quickly. The green cards are words that can be sounded out (Fred Talk). I do not change these – they are in boxes in the book corner and can be changed after school.


Jambo the Gorilla


Jambo will be going home each week with a child. Jambo will discuss with his teachers who they feel deserves to look after him. It would be lovely to take a photo or draw a picture of his stay and put it in the file with a little description of his stay. Each child will tell the class about Jambo’s visit and will be asked questions about his stay. A description helps us to support your child with this.  Some writing would be good too!  Jambo will go home on Friday and needs to be returned by Wednesday ready for the next child to take home.


Show and Tell


Your child will be given a day for show and tell.  It is impossible to do show and tell every day.  When it is your child’s turn it would be useful to practise what he/she would like to tell us about the chosen object.   In the Spring term this will be done in a treasure box and used as a way of practising how to ask questions.  The treasure box is for one night and needs to be returned the next day.


Mystery Reader


In Reception I like to have a mystery reader.  I have found that this fosters an excitement and enjoyment of stories.  Each Friday afternoon a mystery reader arrives at 2.40pm to read a story of their own choice.  The mystery reader is a parent, grandparent, governor, friend of the school.  If you are interested in being a mystery reader please let me know.  This is most effective when the children have no idea who the mystery reader is to be so if you do wish to be one please do not tell your daughter/son. 


We value working as a team with you.  If there is anything you want to talk to us about that you feel might have an impact on your child’s learning lease speak to myself or one of my teaching assistants to arrange a time.  In the case of anything urgent ask one of the teaching assistants if you can speak to me. 


Parent consultations will take place just after half term - dates to be confirmed.


The safety of children is a priority and Reception displays a child friendly risk assessment in the format of dos and don’ts.  It is important for the children to understand the risks and how to avoid them.


Next year my topics are likely to be: (these could easily change)


Autumn – Here I am, Celebrations, Christmas

Spring   - Castles, storytelling, New Life and Easter

Summer – Animals, Pirates, the Church – A Christening