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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 able to use their phonic knowledge to read words
  • know all the 40+ phonemes (sounds) and know which letters or groups of letters correspond to them
  • read words with -s, -es, -ing, -ed, -er and -est endings
  • read a range of poems, stories and non-fiction
  • be able to re-tell stories that they know
  • correct their own inaccurate reading

Children should be allowed to choose a book at school to take home with them to read. You may be given an exercise book to write your comments in when you read with them. Children will also read with their teacher in groups once a week (this is called 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 learn:

  • learn to spell words containing each of the 40+ phonemes already taught (read our parents' guide to Year 1 spelling for a more detailed explanation)
  • learn to write the days of the week
  • learn to add suffixes, word endings (such as -s, -es, -ing, -ed, -er and -est) and also learn about the prefix un-
  • form all lower case and upper case letters, plus the digits 0 to 9
  • join clauses in a sentence using the word 'and'
  • punctuate sentences using capitals, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks
  • sequence stories to form short narratives
  • discuss what they have written with others

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 and then look for the items when they get to the shop
  • Encourage them to write to people as much as possible: Christmas cards, birthday invitations, thank you letters and postcards are a great way of giving them a real purpose for writing

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.

Browse the Year 1 English and Maths Learning Journey programmes.

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