Your child is in first grade! You can look forward to watching him reach many developmental milestones this year. Besides blossoming academically, he’ll also mature socially, emotionally, and physically. Not all of that growth will take place at school; as his parent, you’ll be able to observe and nurture much of his development at home and in other settings.
But how will you know what’s normal development and what you should be concerned about? Below is a guide to typical development for 6- and 7-year old children. Use this information to keep track of his progress, making notes of both his strengths and challenges.
In first grade, your child’s learning curve is really ramping up! Here are some of the skills you can expect to see during his first grade year. Your child:
- Learns mainly by creating things, talking about events, and listening to stories.
- Makes little effort to learn or remember verbal material.
- Learns more by listening than by reading.
- Is becoming a good listener in class. Learn how to encourage his listening skills.
- Has a vocabulary of thousands of words! Get tips for encouraging your child’s speaking skills.
- Enjoys talking about the books he reads or listens to.
- Shares many details of a story or experience but has trouble summarizing it.
- May stutter when nervous.
- Recognizes many words by sight.
- Learns phonics, the sounds of all letters and letter combinations. He uses this knowledge to "decode" new words.
- He still reads “word by word” rather than fluently. Find out how to support your emerging reader.
- Begins to use visual imagery to reinforce his memory, especially if his teacher or parent suggests doing so.
- Writes in less detail than he speaks.
- Organizes physical objects as a way to remember them.
- Wants “everything” and has trouble making choices.
Your first grader is growing up physically, but he may look and feel like an unguided missle at times! You may notice that he:
- Is full of energy and often restless.
- Fidgets and has trouble sitting still.
- Is clumsy due to poor coordination and rapid growth spurts.
- Is very aware of and interested in physical gender differences.
Social and Emotional Development
By ages 6 and 7, your child is becoming more independent and is developing his own identity. You may find that he:
- Identifies with adults outside the family, such as his teacher or a neighbor.
- Wants to be independent but still feels insecure.
- Has trouble concentrating in class. He may fool around with (or bother) classmates.
- Has trouble accepting criticism, blame, or punishment.
- Thinks the world revolves around him.
- Wants to be the winner in games and contests and changes the rules to benefit him—or accuses others of cheating.
- May not have a sense of loyalty to his group or team.
- He may be unkind to peers and be a tattletale.
Partner With the Professionals to Track Your Child’s Progress
You know your child better than anyone does, so you can offer key insights and information when meeting with his teachers, pediatrician, and any other professionals involved his education and care. Are you worried that a problem may be serious? Don’t wait until the next parent-teacher conference or routine doctor appointment to voice your concern. Keep the communication flowing while your child is growing!