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Parent's guide to nursery curriculum - what to expect when starting school

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

We’ve reached the end of our nursery curriculum explained series! This part is all about what you can expect when your little one starts primary school and handy resources to learn more.

If you’ve missed any of our previous sections, why not check them out now:

Let’s dive straight in!

We’ll follow the same format as the previous two sections, giving you an overview of where your little one’s development will be at in each early learning category followed by what you can do to help their learning.

But please note this will be a summarised version – speak to your nursery manager for more information.

Communication and Language

Your little one will understand how to listen carefully and why it’s important, whilst learning to use lots of new words!

They will also be able to use clear sentences to talk about their ideas, making connections by using words like ‘and’, ‘or’. ‘but’, ‘because’ etc. As well as talking about how to solve problems and giving explanations of how things work.

Helping their learning

· Share a wide range of books and stories.

· Play listening-based games like treasure hunts.

· Encourage back and forth conversations with others.

· Talk about and comment on actions to help your child form clearer sentences.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Your little one will be proud of themselves and know they’re important as an individual, being able to express their feelings, whilst also knowing how to listen to others and be kind/caring.

They will know the importance of and be able to talk about:

· toothbrushing,

· healthy eating and physical activity,

· keeping a sleep routine,

· good amounts of screen time,

· being safe when out walking.

Helping their learning

· Listen carefully when your little one is talking and encourage them to express their feelings using words.

· Help them solve problems by talking things through together.

Physical Development

Your little one will be learning to improve their physical skills including rolling, crawling, walking, running, jumping etc. Whilst being able to use a range of movements with ease.

Your child will also be able to use a range of tools like pencils, paintbrushes, scissors, knives, forks etc. and have good posture when sitting on the floor or at a table.

Helping their learning

· Give your little one time and space to be highly active and get out of breath daily.

· Encourage crawling, climbing, pulling themselves up on a rope etc.

· Let them use one-handed tools like peelers and knives.


Your little one will be able to read individual letters by sounding them out and blend sounds into words. They will also be learning to read some letter groups like ‘th’ and ‘sh’.

Your child will form lower-case and capital words correctly and be able to spell some words by sounding them out.

Helping their learning

· Read together daily.

· Play instruction-based games and spell out short words so they have to put them together e.g. ‘can you ‘h-o-p?’.

· Let your child make up stories.

· Make a photo book of family and experiences and allow them to write in it.


Your child will be able: recognise a group of up to 5 objects without counting, count beyond 10, compare numbers of items, understand ‘less than/more than’, compare length, weight and capacity, learn how shapes can be combined and more!

Helping their learning

· Name small groups of things e.g. ‘3 fish fingers’.

· Ask your little one to count out things in a group e.g. ‘can you get me 6 eggs?’.

· Make number bingo with numerals and pictures.

· Make patterns with different objects.

Understanding the World

This part is all about your little one learning to understand… Understanding that some places are special to members of the community, that people have different beliefs, and that there are similarities and differences between life in this country and life in others.

Your child will be able to name and describe people within the community like hairdressers, the police, doctors etc. They will also be familiar with the local area and enjoy exploring the natural world.

Helping their learning

· Share photos and tell stories about your family.

· Take your little one to places of worship and importance.

· Let them help you with cooking and talk about the process.

Expressive Arts and Design

Your child will be able to explore a variety of artistic effects to express ideas and feelings, they will also return to and build on previous learning, refining their ideas, whilst also being able to create collaboratively with others.

They will attentively listen to music, being able to express their feelings and emotions and sing in a group or on their own. Finally, your child will enjoy creating storylines, exploring, and making music and dance!

Helping their learning

· Sing and dance with them to their favourite songs, and encourage them to make their own dance routines.

· Give your little one resources like string, scissors glue etc. to make a model.

Resources for further reading


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