Getting Ready for First Grade

Get a sneak peek at what your child will learn and do in first grade.
By Sasha Emmons



Getting Ready for First Grade

The focus is on…well, focus. She’ll be pushed to concentrate—and read fluently.

What she’ll be learning:

  • Decoding two-syllable words
  • Topic (cats) and opinion (cats are better than dogs) writing
  • Expanding her sight-word vocabulary
  • Figuring number place value
  • Telling time (No more fudging bedtime! Oh, well.)

What you’ll love:

First grade is a big leap in hard work, especially as far as reading is concerned, so kids get a lesson in perseverance. “If they keep at it, they get it. It makes them feel so good about themselves,” recalls Karen Fletcher, who taught first grade in Murfreesboro, TN. 

Don’t stress over . . .

Distractions: “There are fewer yes-or-no questions and more that require higher-level thinking,” says Fletcher. "The emphasis is on listening and answering questions thoughtfully," agrees Jill Thomas, a first-grade teacher in Edwardsville, IL. “We’re building the ability to concentrate, from 5 minutes to 30 by year’s end,” adds Fletcher. Try giving your kid practice at expanding on her thoughts by asking open-ended questions: “Yep, that’s a windmill. What do you think it does?”; “Joey got a lizard? Wow, how does he take care of it?”

Best Friend Blues: Your daughter may notice that her lifelong pal next door is a boy (!). First-graders suddenly become aware that they “should” have a same-gender BFF. Try being proactive about playdates. But it’s more about calling somebody—anybody!—a bestie. It’s normal to have one best friend on Monday and another on Thursday. It’s the idea of being liked that makes them happy.

Plus: Read more on first-grade skills, lessons, and readiness.

Find out what to expect in:

What to Expect by Grade
Cognitive Skills
Age 6
Child Development and Behavior
School Life