Loving Life and School Too in 1st Grade

Noisy 1st grade classrooms reflect the enthusiasm of sunny 6s, who are eager to learn and please.




In 1st grade, kids are interested in everything. They love school (and their teachers!). They are excited about learning and eager to please. For them, school is a good time. But all this enthusiasm makes the classroom a noisy place. Five- and 6-year-olds can't wait to share what they know. Answering before being called on happens frequently in 1st grade, but children aren't being rude — they just haven't learned the rules.

Developing self-control takes practice, and teachers spend a lot of time going over proper conduct. Gentle (and frequent) reminders about hand-raising help them keep good behavior in mind. Teachers like to call attention to a job well done. For example, "I like the way Sarah put her hand up when she had a question. Great job, Sarah!" Teachers sometimes reward good conduct with tickets that can be redeemed for small prizes. That kind of recognition — along with teacher praise — usually causes a chain reaction in the 1st grade classroom.

  • Signs of Maturity
    After a summer off, the first few weeks of school are considered an adjustment period. Many children coming into 1st grade are accustomed to shorter school days. (About 40 percent of public school kindergarten programs are part time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.) They're also used to being helped with everything from putting on jackets to using the bathroom.

    But in 1st grade, children are ready to become more self-reliant. Their attention spans are longer, so they don't give up as easily on new tasks. Learning to read is empowering and hastens them along the road to independence. Sitting at individual desks, rather than at tables with other kids, is another big change from kindergarten to 1st grade. First graders enjoy the big-kid feeling that comes from having a desk of their own, and whether they're messy or neatniks, many take pride in their space.


  • Focus on the Tooth Fairy
    Of all the major milestones in 1st grade, losing teeth is arguably the most momentous. Most 6-year-olds can provide a rundown of the status of each class member's baby teeth, and teachers often post a chart to keep track of tooth fairy visits. Some kids purposely wait until they're in class to give a tooth its final pull. When that happens, the school nurse usually stops the bleeding, and the child is given a cool plastic tooth necklace to keep the tiny treasure safe.


  • Split Personalities
    Many parents complain that their model students aren't as well behaved at home. In 1st grade, kids can seem to have a bad case of selective hearing at home, although the ailment isn't a problem at school. One strategy for dealing with a dawdler would be to alter the routine. For example, if your child needs some playtime before school, you could try waking him up 15 minutes earlier.

Whatever minor difficulties may emerge, the best advice is to enjoy your little learner and embrace all of his passions. This 1st grade year of exciting developments is apt to whiz by all too soon.

Stages & Milestones
Following Directions
Attention and Focus
Self Control
Age 6
Child Development and Behavior
Adjusting to School
Elementary School
Social Skills
Learning and Cognitive Development