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Literacy and numeracy in the Foundation Stage

Pencils and sharperner
Literacy and numeracy underpin all Key Stages, so help your child get off to a good start with these top tips and resources.

Reading at Foundation Stage

Reading is essential for children throughout their education, and it is good to start as early as possible (as long as you're the person doing the reading)!

When your child is in Nursery, sharing books with them and starting to point out initial sounds will make a bit difference. Find out how your child's literacy skills are developed in Nursery, understand the building blocks of early reading and read our recommendations for brilliant picture books to share.

In Reception, your child will start to learn how to decode sounds to read: for more information about how they'll be taught to read using phonics look through our phonics guide for parents

Our guides to Nursery literacy and Reception English offer detailed introductions to the curriculum your child will be introduced to in the classroom.


Books for the Foundation Stage

With thousands of picture books for children available, and more published every day, it can be hard to know where to start when you're looking for great titles to read with your child. Read to the library to borrow these classic reads, or look through our round-ups of great books to read with five year olds and books to read to five year olds:

So Much by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books), is a lovely tale with repeating story patterns, in which everyone in the family shows the baby how much he is loved.

Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (Campbell Books) is written in rhyme and tells the story of a witch and her remarkably spacious broom. It will captivate and engage even reluctant readers.

Handa's Surprise by Eileen Brown (Walker Books) is a story about a girl's journey to deliver fruit to her friend. The surprise at the end of the story always captivates children and the repeating language maintains their interest.

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books). Each year Gerald dreads the great Jungle Dance, and feels sad that he can't tango and two-step with the rest of the jungle animals. One day he realises that it doesn't matter - he simply needs a different tune to dance to.


Words for Foundation Stage

Find out how Reception-age children learn to spell and how phonemes and then graphemes are taught in the classroom in our guide for parents.

Children will learn words at different rates, but there are some high frequency words all children are expected to know how to read and spell by the end of the Reception year. These include ‘in’, ‘yes’, ‘get’, ‘said’, ‘play’, ‘all’, ‘like’, ‘to’, ‘me’, ‘big’, ‘my’, ‘come’, ‘go’, ‘went’, ‘look’, ‘going’, and ‘this’.

Download a list of the top 100 high frequency words, Reception exception words or a cut-out-and-keep flashcard set containing all the Reception year high frequency words to print and use for at-home spelling practice.

Foundation Stage numeracy

In Nursery maths and Reception maths your child will be taught about numbers through songs, counting stories, games and play. As they progress, they will learn to count and understand numbers, as well as how to use comparative expressions, such as ‘smaller than' or ‘lighter than'. They will also be made aware of shapes and space.

Try these fun activities at home to support their learning:

Singing numbers: Songs such as ‘One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive' will help them remember basic number sequences.

Size it up: When you’re talking use adjectives of size to reinforce their vocabulary. ‘Big’, ‘small’, ‘long’ and ‘short’, are all words they will be expected to know before they go into Year 1.

Snap: Children learn about matching pairs at the Foundation Stage so you can help them build on that while having fun!

Think of a number: On a car journey, you could play ‘Think of a number’. One of you thinks of a number between one and 10 and the other has to guess what it is. Use terms such as ‘That's too high’ until they guess it correctly.

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