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Preparing for 1st grade

First grade involves increased responsibilities and huge growth in terms of learning to read. Children who are well prepared for 1st grade enter school being able to follow 2- and 3-step directions. They are also ready and able to complete lengthy projects by focusing their attention on a task for 15 minutes or more.

One way to prepare your rising 1st grader is to practice giving he or she verbal 2- and 3-step directions Allow your child more time to craft independently and provide opportunities for him or her to sit down and practice paper/pencil work at a table or desk area for time periods of 15 minutes or more.

Most children enter 1st grade being able to name the letters and identify the sounds. Knowing the first 50 sight words, such as: “you,” “the,” and “a,” are also important. Often times, schools will use Dolch or Fry word lists in their curriculum and parents should practice these words with kids at home.

Before school begins, read with your child often. Find or make easy to read books that include simple sentences. Have your child practice reading them to you. Make up rhymes and sing songs. Encourage your child to play with sounds and words by playing games such as, “What sound is in the beginning of the word ‘ball’ (or ‘horse,’ or ‘fan’)?”

Reading levels at this age vary a lot based on pre-school and kindergarten reading exposure, and that’s OK! If you’re not sure that your child’s reading skills are ready for first grade, let Sylvan help! Whether you want your child to catch up on his or her reading skills or jump ahead with activities that enrich and challenge, Sylvan’s 1st grade reading tutors make learning personal to your child.

Practicing reading before 1st grade will help your child be prepared!

What 1st graders should learn at school

1st grade reading

First grade is a BIG reading year and many children begin the year sounding out basic consonant-vowel-consonant three letter words such as “cat.” Spelling lists and weekly spelling tests are common in most 1st grade classrooms. These spelling lists might focus on teaching word families and basic word patterns.

By the end of the year, 1st graders are reading more complicated sentences such as “He is baking a pink cake.” without needing to sound out known words. They are reading grade level text with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression. Most 1st graders are also learning to answer questions about key story ideas, retell the story and describe the characters.

Parenting Tips:

  • Check your child’s online portal daily and make sure to read all communications.
  • Let your child complete his or her own homework, but check over it before submitting it.
  • Talk to him or her about what they are learning and have your child explain a concept or have them practice the concept in a different way at home. Since all children learn differently, see how you can incorporate art, movement and senses into reading activities.

1st grade math

Most 1st grade classrooms teach a variety of addition and subtraction strategies for numbers 0-20 in addition to sequencing, place value, measurement, telling time, using graphs and knowing three dimensional shapes.

Teachers will often present math lessons with the help of tools such as base ten blocks, unifix cubes, a calendar, dice, number lines, hundreds charts, clocks and counters for students to experience hands-on math.

Parenting Tips:

  • It is helpful for children to enter 1st grade with a firm grasp on identifying and understanding what the numbers 0-20 represent. Have your child count the number of steps it takes to get to the second floor.
  • Make a number line out of chalk on your sidewalk and have them jump the addition or math problems.
  • Talk with your child about numbers as often as you can.
  • Clocks and stores with price labels for merchandise are great ways to naturally let math sneak into your daily life and make it fun!

First grade students working on shapes

1st grade writing

Many 1st grade students transition from writing simple words to creating 6 sentence paragraphs. These paragraphs include topic sentences with supporting details and a conclusion.

The use of capital letters, phonetic spelling and punctuation is a must for writing.

First grade teachers often provide writing prompts for students asking them to summarize events from their own lives, write about academic content or create fictional stories.

Parenting Tips:

  • Help build your child’s writing skills by providing opportunities for your first grader to write often.
  • Have him or her write letters to relative, make lists for the grocery store and even write in a diary daily.

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