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What to expect in first grade

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By Miriam Myers

Each child passes through a range of social, academic and developmental stages at his own pace. Here are some guidelines for what to look forward to in the year ahead.

Physical and social skills you can expect of your first grader:

  • Listen for longer periods of time
  • Work independently at her desk
  • Listen to longer sets of directions
  • Complete homework and turn it in the next day
  • Stay seated for a longer period of time
  • Be able to see things from another person's point of view so you can reason with her and teach her empathy
  • Relate experiences in greater detail and in a logical way
  • Problem-solve when disagreements arise
  • Crave affection from parents and teachers (eager to please?)
  • Experience minor difficulties with friends and working out problems with peers
  • Be able to plan ahead

Academic skills you can expect of your first grader:

  • Read directions off the board, some children may still have difficulty with this
  • Write words with letter combination patterns such as words with the silent e like make
  • Read and write high-frequency words such as where and every
  • Write complete sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation
  • Read aloud first-grade books with accuracy and understanding
  • Count change
  • Tell time to the hour and half-hour
  • Quickly answer addition and subtraction facts for sums up to 20
  • Complete two-digit addition and subtraction problems on paper

Learn more about where your child should be at the end of kindergarten.

Comments from readers

"I have a similar issue as the post October 7th. I recently found out my kindergartener was told not to move ahead in her reading and not to try and sound stuff other herself. I am terrified to send her to first grade there. She literally is ending kindergarten knowing less words and has sloppier handwriting than when she started. "
"I'm not quiet understanding how school districts can be so different. My son went to White Pigeon (Michigan) last year for kindergarten and was expected to do all of the things mentioned, now that he's attending Elkhart Schools he's expected to not progress??? I think there is something wrong with this picture. I think Elkhart Schools need to up their expectations and actually try challenging some of there students and they just may find that the kids do better, because they aren't bored "
"would like to see more indepth information, possibly new ideas to parallel learning home. "
"This website is very helpful in coming up with ideas on how to prepare my 5.5 yr old for 1st grade. Good info. "
"i have a son in one of the five top schools this web; is very helpful thanks for the inf."
"Hi, I am a Grandmother of a child who is about to begin first grade at Elmwood. You have a wonderful website with lots of good information. I think it will help us so that we can reinforce and support the teachers of our little students at home. Thank you very much and keep up the fine work you are doing!"
"wonderful program thanks for the invite, Vickie Grandmother of one to enter first grade in the fall :))))"