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1st Grade Reading: What Happens

1st Grade Reading: What Happens

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Updated on May 21, 2014

Teaching your child to read may seem like one of the great mysteries of life, but it's really much more simple than you think. Now that your first grader is either already reading or is certainly ready to read, you know that reading is not a single skill: It's a whole set of skills and subskills, with decoding (sounding out words) and comprehension (understanding what the words mean) at the core.

Curriculum varies from state to state, but there are a surprising number of similarities. Children working at the standard level at the beginning of first grade: 

  • Know words have meaning
  • Know letters make up words
  • Know all or part of the alphabet
  • Recognize familiar written words, such as their name
  • Recognize written words found in their daily environments
  • Imitate reading; make believe they are reading
  • Hold books and turn the pages

By the end of first grade reading students working at the standard level:

  • Develop appropriate active strategies, such as interpreting illustrations, to construct meaning from print
  • Decode unfamiliar words
  • Understand how speech sounds are connected
  • Understand or are able to figure out (using contextual clues) the meaning of what they read
  • Develop and maintain motivation to read
  • Extend a story
  • Predict what will happen next
  • Discuss the character's motives
  • Question the authors meaning
  • Describe causes and effects of events in the text
  • Discuss books by tying their comments directly to the text

Reprinted with permission from "First Grade Success: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn" by Amy James (Jossey-Bass 2005)

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