Reading and writing are important and challenging skills for your first grader to learn, but math comes in close behind them. First grade math is generally made up of skills that can be divided into groups such as number sense, geometry, operations, and problem solving.

Number sense, a set of math skills that describes your child's understanding that numbers represent quantity, and that you can use numbers to count “how many”, sits at the center of it all. To progress in math, your child must acquire several conceptual building blocks in this area, including:

  • Numbers and counting to 100
  • The language used in math, from concepts such as measurement and money to the technical
  • vocabulary of math, such as greater than, less than, add, subtract, difference, and sum
  • An understanding of ratio and proportion
  • Recognizing colors, shapes, and patterns

Curriculum varies from state to state. But children working at the standard level at the beginning of first grade:

  • Understand that numbers are symbols that tell you how many
  • Know about time and can tell hours
  • Recite numbers 1 through 20 corresponding to flash cards
  • Combine and separate sets using objects
  • Classify and sort shapes
  • Solve addition facts through 10
  • Compare more, less, and same
  • Recognize half of a whole object

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

  • Work with patterns and sequences
  • Add and subtract single-digit numbers
  • Tell time by hours and minutes
  • Estimate and predict simple outcomes
  • Count money
  • Identify place values to hundreds
  • Practice measuring length, capacity, and weight
  • Work with geometric shapes
  • Become familiar with the concept of symmetry
  • Count higher than 100
  • Identify the fractions 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
  • Solve simple word problems

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