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What would you expect an "average" Reception child to be able to do?

(85 Posts)
Festivedidi Thu 03-Jan-13 22:11:20

My niece is in Reception and is one of the youngest in the class. We spent the day together yesterday and we just happened to be playing with dd2's magnetic letters from the fridge (dd2 was playing with them too). I was quite surprised that dn didn't know many letters, not even the letters in her own name. Dsis keeps telling us that dn is doing well at school and making good progress at reading and writing.

My question is, is this about average for a child at the young end of the yeargroup? It's been a long time since dd1 was in Reception and it wouldn't be a fair comparison anyway as dd1 is a September birthday so was almost a year older when she started Reception that dn is. I've still got a couple of years left before dd2 starts school as well so I can't compare her either. Is there anything anyone can recommend for dsis to do at home with her to bring her on a bit if she is a little bit behind the others?

5madthings Thu 03-Jan-13 22:15:04

They all vary hugely!

My ds4 is in reception, march day and knows all his letters etc but ds2 and ds3 at the same age did not, they caught up when they were ready.

And tho ds4 knows all his letters and is learning to read he can't write at all, in fact he point blank refuses to even try most if the time.

I wouldn't worry too much, the school will let her mum know if their are any problems and she is very young still.

Iamnotminterested Thu 03-Jan-13 22:18:27

This is mumsnet so be prepared for lots of mums explaining how their dc is free reading already, translating ancient texts into English and is on first name terms with Susan Greenfield, whilst ending their posts with "but your dn sounds just FINE, they all catch up" .

ReallyTired Thu 03-Jan-13 22:20:24

The little girl has only had one term of reception and until recently your niece would not have started school until after christmas. I think its too early for your sister to worry.

Dd has a friend with an august birthday in reception. M can write her name, knows some letter sounds and blend simple three letter words. M can't read longer words yet or tricky words yet.

I think its easy to forget how much work it is to learn to read and write. Also reception is far more than learning reading or writing. Most schools really crack on with the academics in year 1.

kilmuir Thu 03-Jan-13 22:23:01

i have a child in reception. Early summer baby. he knows all his letters and can breakdown words to read, BUT he is DC number 4 and I appreciate that all children progress differently. they have surges, slow down, 'get' some parts of school quicker.

simpson Thu 03-Jan-13 22:23:59

DS (now yr3) when he was in reception he started not being able to read his own name (he is also Aug born) and did not click with reading until much later maybe May time....

So as long as the school says they are doing fine then at this stage, they must be...they are very young....

Djembe Thu 03-Jan-13 22:26:47

Is your sister actually worried? Or are you winding her up by thinking her daughter is slow on the uptake hmm

I think mind your own on this one tbh.

Wallison Thu 03-Jan-13 22:27:11

I think it's normal enough not to know many letters after just a term in reception and as long as the school are happy with what she's doing then there's no need to worry.

simpson Thu 03-Jan-13 22:27:28

Also agree with Kilmuir in that it can depend on whether they are an only child, the oldest or the youngest...

DD is in reception now and is picking things up much quicker than her brother as she wants to compete with him but as DS the oldest was a bit slower (because he was not ready to start school IMO - but he got there grin)

SizzleSazz Thu 03-Jan-13 22:34:52

I listen to children read in YR and i would say about 3-4 (out of 30) struggle to recognise any letters.

From my experience it is generally not dependent on their birthdate. Thinking on it, 3 out of the 4 are first borns.

Festivedidi Thu 03-Jan-13 22:36:29

No Djembe I'm absolutely not winding her up thinking her dd is slow. I haven't mentioned anything at all to my dsis about this. I most certainly wouldn't want to upset anybody, especially if she is perfectly normal, which was what I wasn't sure about.

I seem to remember dd1 knowing all of her letters and some words by the time she started reception, but like I said in my op, she is a September birthday so it wouldn't be fair at all to compare her to dn. It just seemed odd to me, after being told how well dn is doing with learning to read, that she didn't know the letters of her own name yet. Now people have said that's normal for a summer birthday child, I'll stop being surprised.

Wallison Thu 03-Jan-13 22:37:24

Why would it even bother you? Genuine question. You sound a bit competitive.

simpson Thu 03-Jan-13 22:38:43

I read with kids in yr1 in my DC school and a good few of them are still sounding out basic words/sounds....

No parent helper is allowed in reception (as they cannot read apparently)

I think most kids in yr1 are on ORT 2 maybe this stage of the year.

Festivedidi Thu 03-Jan-13 22:44:16

It doesn't really bother me, I was just a little surprised about how few letters she recognised and was mildly curious. I try very hard not to be competetive about things like this but I suppose I might have come across as such.

We do have a family history of dyslexia which could obviously cause issues with reading and it would probably be better to pick up any signs earlier rather than later wouldn't it?

wigglywoowoo Fri 04-Jan-13 11:26:01

Children's performance varies and my Dr on one occasion was left questioning if dd was behind because she answered his questions wrong on purpose. Dd who is in the top groups thought it was very funny. She doesn't want to be bothered with thinking about this stuff outside of school.

I wouldn't judge your niece based on what she didn't show you while playing. We have dyslexia in the family too and as long as the school are aware of this, I wouldn't worry too much as she is still very young.

noisytoys Fri 04-Jan-13 11:49:18

DD is in reception. They sent a letter home with what they expect at the end of reception. It includes recognising their name written down, singing the alphabet, counting to 10 and reliably going to the toilet and changing themselves for PE. I wouldn't worry about your niece she seems as though she is doing fine

FrustratedSycamoreSnowflake Fri 04-Jan-13 12:00:47

I think a September birthday and a June+ birthday is a huge difference in terms of readiness, and stages, but your DNs school should be well aware of these differences and will be working with children and parents to achieve what they need to achieve by the end of YearR.

ShowOfHands Fri 04-Jan-13 12:13:34

DD is the youngest in her year and apparently I'm one of those annoying MNers whose dd was a free reader in reception. But there was a massive range and that's my point. Some ended the year only just starting on v basic books with cvc sounds, two were free readers and the rest were somewhere inbetween.

But why focus on reading in isolation? That's just one skill they are working on in reception. For some reason people concentrate on that above everything else. There are hundreds of things they're working on on a daily basis and imo a lot of the more important stuff is how to share, how to work together, what's expected of you when in a school environment. If we're talking 'expectations' then I would say that what's most important is being able to dress/undress, put on/take off coats and shoes, go to the toilet unaided etc. Everything else is down to individual abilities and interests and if there are any issues then it's up to the school and the parents to identify them and work together on them.

But a tiny 4yo not spelling out Shakespeare with magnetic letters? Doesn't really matter.

Itsjustafleshwound Fri 04-Jan-13 12:19:33

But sometimes progress isn't just about reading and writing. It can also relate to behaviour, interaction with others, how they follow instructions...

A child who can control their behaviour and listen is far ahead of a unmanagable child who can recite letters and numbers with no understanding ...

Our school gives a report/mark out of 9 for a whole lot of things at the end of the year - along with reading and concepts of writing and numbers also comes in behaviour and other things

simpson Fri 04-Jan-13 13:33:31

What is a free reader in reception??

Itsjustafleshwound - is that the EYFS scores??

DD loves reception and is learning so much more than reading/writing ie how to take turns (which she is not great at) how to be more independent and to take other children's feelings into consideration....

onesandwichshort Fri 04-Jan-13 13:55:30

Simpson - in dd's case, 'free reader in reception' meant that it was easier for us to find her books than for them to do it... grin

noisytoys Fri 04-Jan-13 14:04:51

They do extended reader books on the reading scheme too. DD is lime level which is usually the last level before free reader but because she's only 4 they will be putting her on extended reader books next

jojane Fri 04-Jan-13 14:11:31

Ds1 started reception able to read anything and everything, could count and add up and take away, knew lots about most things BUT he refused to try and write, hated drawing/painting and had toileting issues
Dd who is in reception and a July baby couldn't recite the alphabet in order when she started but was great at colouring and drawing and sociable play, complete opposite of ds1
After a term of school she can now read small words, add up small numbers,

bluebiscuit Fri 04-Jan-13 14:14:04

It depends what she has been taught really. In our school, the reception class have learnt all the letters and as each letter was done, it came home to be practised. So, yes, in my dd's school, a reception child who did not know the sound that each letter of the alphabet makes at this stage would be classed as behind, regardless of summer/winter born. They might have forgotten a few over the holidays but that isn't a problem, that is to be expected.

But schools do things differently. If your dn's school is covering things with a different structure and haven't learnt all the letters yet, then you can't expect dn to know them.

Blending cvc words needs to be practised. It depends how much they have done at school. In our school, most reception children could blend words like cat at this stage. But if your DN's school haven't done it, DN won't be able to unless she's ad help at home.

Either way, you will probably have to keep out of it and let the school decide if dn is behind. You run the risk of antagonising and worrying your sister if you interfere. You could keep an eye on things and see what dn can do at the end of yr R.

PastSellByDate Fri 04-Jan-13 14:59:42

Hi Festivedidi;

I agree with many who have posted - the 'golden rule' is if it isn't your kid, it really isn't advisable to say to someone you think their DC is a bit behind. Great to praise - but very bad form to suggest to someone the DC/ school should be doing more.

If you want to understand the 'gold standard' of what should be covered in a given school year by subject visit the Campaign for Real Education curriculum pages here: But take the health warning that this is 'ideal world' stuff and is very likely not to reflect what is happening at an ordinary state school.

Now in terms of worrying about your niece.

1) Every school is different and some very traditional primary schools spend most of the first term focusing on settling the children into school routines, starting to assess their individual abilities and focusing on behaviour and learning to follow instructions. [This makes a lot of sense - if school is a happy place for a child, a place they can't wait to come to, and learning is seen as 'fun' rather than a 'trial' or 'upsetting' - children will thrive].

2) At this age sometimes it's difficult to assess aptitude. You can have children who do understand the plot of a story (maybe even subtext) but because they are still learning to read/ write they would be unable to read that book or write about it. My DD2 had all sorts of bright ideas and an amazing vocabulary (she seemed to collect words and enjoy using them) - but has really only caught up with her verbal ability in writing now (Y3) and in reading in late Y2.

3) Most schools teach letters & early reading through phonics. So it may be worthwhile finding out from your sister (especially as you have a younger child) what phonics scheme the school is following. Many schools follow Jolly Phonics - and there are plenty of workbooks available (colouring books really, but good practice on sounding out and writing out letters, letter groups and ultimately words). Most good newsagents and book shops sell these. A page of the workbook shouldn't take more than 5 - 10 minutes, offers good practice/ consolodation and then there's plenty of colouring to be done. A great activity if you're waiting.

4) Finally as many have posted it is fully possible to leave Year R and not be very confident reader but go on to do well. I think as dyslexia runs in your family the issue to ask is does it run in your sister's DH's family. In order for your niece to have dyslexia she'll have to receive genes from both her mother & father - same for your DC (what is your DH's family history with dyslexia?). In general, dyslexia is less common in girls - however, when girls have it, often it is severe. Early clues are poor coordination, slow to reach most milestones (crawling, walking, speaking, etc...). It is always worthwhile raising this with the school - but possibly best not to worry about it at this stage, but raise it in Year 1 & Year 2 if reading skills are developing slowly.

I suppose Festivedidi the question to ask yourself is which would you have prefered yourself as a small child not very able to read/ write yet:

Parents/ Family who think you're doing great and are supportive/ ecouraging?

Parents/ Family who are disappointed and starting to push you to catch up?

Personally, I think 'keeping the faith' is the real secret. DD1 was dire at maths - couldn't even take 1 from 10 at end of year 2. But DH and I just took the view that it wasn't that the teachers were rubbish, or that DD was 'dim' (as Head suggested) - it was simply how maths concepts were explained clearly was not working for her. We found a solution, because we believed it was possible, and kept plugging away at it. Hopefully if your niece is really 'behind' you and her Mum can show belief that she'll get there eventually.

My brother, who's a school teacher, says it's best to think of this learning lark as a marathon and not a sprint. Slow and steady wins the race.


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