Year 1 English: what your child learns

Little girl writing
In Year 1 everything starts to become a little more formal, as the freedom and play of Reception are replaced with more organised activities. Here are the topics your child will learn in their more structured English lessons.

Literacy is a daily lesson, made up of three aspects:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening

Reading in Year 1 – your child will be:

  • Short words made up of a consonant-vowel-consonant, and progressing to longer words
  • Sounds made by groups of vowels
  • Letters which can make different sounds (eg, ‘g’ in get or gem)
  • How to work out two and three syllable words
  • To make sure that what they are reading makes sense to them
  • How to interpret stories using characters and dialogue

Your school will probably have a reading scheme which the children work through, and they will be expected to read at home – you’ll probably have a ‘reading record’ book to keep a note of this. At school they will read individually with their teacher, and also in small groups, which is known as ‘guided reading’.

Try this at home:

  • Visit your local library and let your child choose their own books
  • Read regularly to your child – even if they’re a fluent reader, they will still enjoy it
  • If your child is not keen on stories, try fact-based non-fiction books or a comic to spark their interest

Writing in Year 1 – your child will be:

  • Composing simple sentences using capital letters and full stops
  • Writing with 'finger spaces' between words
  • Learning to spell simple words
  • Attempting to spell new words using phonics
  • Forming letters correctly with a comfortable pencil grip, ready for joined-up handwriting later
  • Using a keyboard to write their name and simple sentences

During year 1 children work on their versions of familiar stories and fairy tales, as well as writing about their own experiences and putting together pieces of non-fiction; for example, they may produce a fact box about their favourite animal. By the end of year 1 most children will be able to write a short, simple story with a recognisable beginning, middle and end.

Try this at home:

  • Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw and write with a range of materials
  • Ask your child to help you write a shopping list
  • If they have a birthday party, they could write the invitations and thank you letters

Speaking and listening in Year 1 – your child will be:

  • Acting out and telling stories
  • Reading aloud
  • Joining in when a story is read aloud
  • Taking part in class discussions (this helps to build vocabulary)

Try this at home:

  • Encourage conversation by asking questions about your child’s day
  • Play role-play games as different characters
  • Read a story together and talk about it

Revise what your child is learning with some at-home practice: look through our Year 1 English worksheets to find a good activity to download and complete at home. Phonics is still a big part of literacy in Year 1, so make regular phonics practice part of your after school routine.

Check your Y1 child's progress in English with our free Y1 English Progress checks, three mini-tests for autumn, spring and summer term.