What Should My Child Know? Targets, activities and why it doesn’t really matter that much!

What Should My Child Know? Targets, activities and why it doesn’t really matter that much!

I want to start by saying that this is difficult for me to write.

Assessing children based on a set of criteria is one of the reasons I left my job in Education and why I thought about home schooling even before I had children.

Children aren’t robots. They don’t arrive pre-programmed. They don’t all learn the same things, in the same way at the same time. There really is no reason to expect your four year old to know the same as another four year old.

What should my child know?

This notion of levels and targets is a modern idea, designed by governments to decide whether their system is working. It tells us nothing about a child’s future and what they’re truly capable of.

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So, why do I want to put together a list of things that your child ‘should’ (cringe!) be able to do!?

  • For some people it really helps to have an idea of what their kids might be doing if they were in school, especially if they’re only taking them out for a short time.
  • A lot of home educated children will be doing far better than their parents realise.
  • Actual teacher led ‘learning’ time in school is surprisingly low. What is achieved in a classroom setting is easily replicable in just a few hours at home.
  • If you do feel that your child is way ‘behind’ you can seek support and advice from a professional.

 “I’m not clever enough to teach  my child.”

“Where do I start?”

“Will my child fall behind?”

“What are 5 year old learning in school anyway?”

I’ve heard these comments far too often!

I find it so sad that parents have been pushed to a place where they now doubt their own ability to educate their offspring. Somehow it’s become the norm to pack your children off as young as two and three. No, worse than that,  it’s become abnormal not to do this! I’ve been asked why my child wasn’t in school since he was around two (he’s big for his age)!

A friend of mine desperately wanted to homeschool her child. Her parental  instincts were telling her that school wasn’t right for her son. But, it took months for her to commit to deregistering.


Basically, because she worried that she couldn’t teach her child as well as a teacher would.

As an ex-teacher I find it quite worrying the faith that some parents have in teachers. As if we’re some all-knowing beings sent to educate the masses.

I’m not insulting teacher’s…I know some amazing ones. But, I was 21 when I got my first teaching job. Looking back now, I knew nothing. I learnt on the job and by having children of my own.

Basically, good teachers are good learners. They learn from their mistakes. They adapt. They listen. If you can do those things then you can be a good teacher! You can home school!

What should my child know?

I’ve based the following information on my own training and experiences in Wales in the UK. But, any parent, anywhere in the world can use it to gain a picture of what kids of certain ages are ‘supposed to be doing’.

What should my child know

Now, like I said…please, please, please, read this with the understanding that all kids are different. Some children can read at three others at nine…as they get older there’s often no difference in their reading abilities.

Infact, there is a large body of evidence that suggests that learning later is more beneficial. In many countries in Europe, children don’t even start formal education until age six so there really is no need to be drilling the alphabet with a three year old!

Studies that looked at the children who began formal literacy at age 5 or 7 and compared them again at age 11. The study found that by the time both groups of children were 11 there was actually no difference in their reading abilities.

Interestingly, the children who had been taught formally at the older age had a more positive attitide towards reading and better reading comprehension.

Basically, a lot of children will learn all of the skills listed below on their own, naturally through situations and play. They just need some guidance and support from the adults around them.

Ages 4-7 should be particularly focused on learning through experiences. In the school setting these ‘experiences’ consist mainly of role-play, school trips, setting the scene with stories, school visitors and school pets.

For home schooled children, these experiences happen every-single-day!

What should my child know

If this post is useful then I’d love to develop it further by linking more learning activities and ideas to each of the skills. It’d be great if you could give me a little thumbs up in the comments if you’d like to see this…

So, lets take a look…


4- 5 years

  • Sing familiar songs and rhymes with help.
  • Talk about things they like and don’t like and things they’ve done or seen.
  • Start to use appropriate language during role play e.g. playing shops, doctors.
  • Ask questions…all parents know the ‘WHY!?’ phase! 😂
  • Understand rhyming and carry on a simple rhyming string.
  • Listen to basic instructions and be able to follow them. Cooking and crafts are a great way to practice this one!
  • Retell stories and talk about things that they’ve done.

5 – 6 years

  • Talk about things with increasing confidence e.g. their opinions, the steps they took to make something.
  • Create simple rhymes and alliterations on their own.
  • Listen with growing attention and ask relevant questions.

 6 – 7 years

  • Express their opinions and give reasons.
  • Speak confidently to a range of different people.
  • Use rhyme to create more complex poems and verses.
  • Listen to others and ask questions to clarify meaning.
  • Make up their own instruction commands e.g. design recipes.
  • Talk in detail about a wide range of subjects.


4 – 5 years

  • Understand the concept of reading. i.e. that books have words that are read from left to right.
  • Identify some letters and know the sounds that they represent.
  • Recognise high frequency words (words that they see repeated a lot).
  • Start to use simple phonic strategies and context clues like pictures to read simple one syllable words like c-a-t.
  • Begin to blend letters e.g. understand that ‘t’ and ‘h’ make a ‘th’ sound when placed together.

We’re travelling at the moment so we don’t have much room for a tonne of resources. Our Kindle Fire is really useful as it stores do many educationsl games. Our son loves these Endless Apps.

 5 – 6 years

  • Blend phonemes (letter sounds) to read words with two syllables.
    Know the letter names (e.g. a = ay) i.e. the alphabet.
  • Read simple texts taking account of meaning.

6 – 7 years

  • Read texts more confidently.
  • Find information by using contents and glossary pages correctly.
  • Remember facts they’ve read in books and link it to other things that they’ve read.

How to teach my child to read?

Click here to find out how to teach your child to read…


4 – 5 years

  • Wtite recognisable letters
  • Begin writing simple words e.g. c-a-t
  • Dictate sentences e.g. to describe what is happening in a picture.

5 – 6 years

  • Form upper and lower case letters which are usually correctly shaped.
  • Use spelling strategies to spell simple words or high frequency words.
  • Start using connectives (e.g. and, but) aswell as capital letter and full-stops.

6 – 7 years

  • Upper and lower-case lesser are accurately formed and consistent in size.
  • Spelling is generally correct.
  • Use expressive punctuation.


4 – 5 years

  • Know number names and sounds.
  • Count, read, write, order numbers up to 10.
  • Use number facts up to 5.
  • Use 1p, 2p, 5p and 10p to pay for items.
  • Use comparisons when talking about length, height, mass e.g. bigger, smaller
  • Sing days of the week, months and seasons.
  • Use prepositions to describe position. e.g. over, under, through.
  • Recognise 2D and some 3D shapes in their play place.
  • Create simple symmetrical pictures.

5 – 6 years

  • Recite numbers up to 100.
  • Count, read, write, order numbers up to 20.
  • Use number facts up to 10 e.g. number bonds 5+4=9 or half 8 = 4.
  • Understand symbols × + =
  • Count objects in 2s, 5s or 10s.
  • Mentally ‘add one more’ up to 10.
  • Pay for things up to 20p with different combinations of coins.
  • Use non-standard units of measure for length, weight, capacity.
  • Understand the days of the week, months and seasons.
  • Describe, position, direction and movement.
  • Begin to sort 2D and 3D shapes based on their properties.
  • Complete symmetrical pictures.
  • Collect information and record with pictures or marks.

6 – 7 years

  • Understand symbols × + = × ÷
  • Sequence 2 digit numbers (e.g. put these is order 23, 43, 12, 55)
  • Work things out from what they know already e.g. 4 + 4 = 8 therefore 40 + 40 must be 80.
  • Mentally subtract 10 or 20 from a number up to 100.
  • Understand that multiplication is just repeat addition.
  • Use standard units to measure length, weight, mass, capacity and use symbols correctly.
  • Read hours and minutes of a 12 hour digital clock.
  • Read ‘quarter past’, ‘half past’ and ‘quarter to’ on an analogue clock.
  • Compare temperatures using a thermometer.
  • Record days of the week, months and seasons.
  • Recognise regular and irregular 2D and 3D shapes and understand their properties.
  • Identify a line of symmetry and complete symmetrical pictures.
  • Collect data and form block graphs, lists etc.


4 – 7 years

  • Learn to take care of their hygiene needs e.g. going to the toilet unaided, brushing their teeth.
  • What happens to their body as they exercise e.g. heartbeat, breathing, sweating.
  • Understand what their body needs and that some foods and drinks are healthier than others.
  • Understand that medicine can be given by a doctor to make them better.
  • Start to understand some of the dangers at home and out and about.
  • Talk about what to do if they need help.
  • Begin to recognise what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing. Everyone should know what they’re strengths are. It’s far too easy to focus on improvement! Celebrate successes!


 4 – 7 years

  • Talk about their feelings and recognise emotions in themselves and others. ( I know plenty of schooled adults who still struggle with this one!)
  • Be respectful and take responsibility for their own actions.
  • Talk about their thoughts, ideas and opinions. If your child sees a child at the park crying because another child took his bike. Ask them how it makes them feel. Do they understand right and wrong/ fair and unfair in this type of situation?
  • Put things right. When something goes ‘wrong’ can they come up with solutions about how to rectify the situation?
  • Know what’s important to them. Can they talk about the things that are important to them? Can they explain why? Do they understand that different things are important to different people?


 4 – 7 years

  • Understand that the world is full of different cultures and beliefs.
  • Learn to be respectful and tolerant. Kids learn this by what they see and hear. If adults are respectful then the children around them will be too.
  • Start to question stereotypes and inequalities. It’s a big ask but totally achievable through home schooling or better still world schooling.
  • Learn about where they live.
  • Use and make simple maps.
  • Recognise natural features like rivers, hills and human features like buildings and bridges.
  • Start to recognise the similarities and differences between where they live and other parts of the world.
  • Explore how places change e.g. seasons, weather.
  • Recognise changes caused by time e.g. that they were once a baby.
  • Learn about past events.


  • Learn the names for the main parts of the human body and plants.
  • Know the names of some animals and plants.
  • Understand some of the effects of different seasons on some animals and plants.
  • Start to be able to group different animals and plants by various characteristics.


4 – 7 years

  • Use senses to sort everyday objects into groups according to properties (e.g. it floats, it’s magnetic) and features (e.g. it’s smooth, it’s shiny).
  • Distinguish between man-made and natural materials.
  • Understand that some objects can be changed e.g. squashed, melted, bent.
  • Understand that light comes from many sources and that darkness is the absence of light.

If this post is useful to anyone then I’d love to hear from you. It’s work in progress and the aim is to link to all the amazing resources that are available to teach these skills.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date then join our Facebook group How To Homeschool…

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