First Grade Facts
What do First Graders learn? Here's a brief summary of what children in first grade learn in the five core subjects and what parents can do to enhance their learnings. Get the five top tips to an elementary school head start.
What You Need To Know
With so many new experiences, from joining a ‘big school’ to reading a book cover to cover to playing unsupervised at recess, First Grade really is all about the firsts. Though the step up in age group may initially seem scary, the amount of exciting new activities makes this year a lot of fun for most kids.
For parents concerned about their child’s reading ability, or worried that they can’t tell the time yet, or anxious about what first graders actually learn, here’s the lowdown.
Reading. Teachers will evaluate reading levels and teach using both entire words and phonics (connecting letters to sounds), so that students not only expand their vocabulary, but learn to ‘decode’ unfamiliar words.
Math. Children cover the fundamentals of the decimal system, reading and writing numbers from 1 to 100, learning place value, addition, and subtraction. Many teachers use geometric shapes, such as number cubes, to make understanding easier. First graders also learn the basics of how to tell time.
Writing. First graders start writing, from made-up stories to journals, using ‘invented’ spelling.
Science. The world is one big classroom. First graders develop scientific skills by using the natural world, learning to see patterns and categorizing (same or different, alive or dead). Everything offers an opportunity to make discoveries, from the complex human body to simple plant structures, from the contents of river water to the weather.
Social Studies. For a six-year-old, last year sometimes seems like ancient history. First grade introduces students to timelines, enabling children to understand the difference between past, present, and future.
How You Can Help
Parents can play a vital part in supporting academic development. Learning doesn’t happen only at school, so here are a few pointers on encouraging your child’s intellectual growth.
Reading. For children who like books, read, read, and read some more. For active students less interested in stories, start with picture books, which are a valuable way for first graders to connect words with objects. Always keep the tone fun – you want your child to learn, but you also want them to learn to love reading.
Math. From peas in a pod to grains of rice – you can count anything. Count to ten with your child, then a hundred, then see if you can go higher. There are math problems everywhere, the trick is to find calculations in normal activities. Pay for small purchases with cash instead of credit cards, and encourage your child to work out the change.
Writing. Encourage your child to write little stories, or brief thank you notes, but don’t worry about the spelling. That comes later.
Science. Get out and about. This one’s a terrific opportunity to get dirt under all your fingernails, as you explore the natural world together.
Social Studies. Strengthen your first grader’s ideas about past, present, and future by telling stories about what happened before they were born. Here’s a nice chance for grandparents to get involved.
It isn’t just school which is new to first graders. With the skills they’re acquiring, they’re starting to see the world in a new way. Parents don’t need to be in the classroom to help. Keep an eye out for moments where your child can learn, and who knows, you may start seeing things differently too.
For more information on what to expect in first grade, please see the full article:
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