New Year, New Grade

Review the essentials in order to help your child thrive this year.



New Year, New Grade

A milestone is fast approaching. Your child will enter a new grade, and with this comes fresh challenges and rich rewards. Find out what key changes to expect and how best to support school success.

Your child is entering a bold new world. While exploratory play is essential to her development, you'll probably find kindergarten is more academically rigorous than it used to be. She may explore basic science by growing plants in paper cups. Her classroom may include a computer area where she'll explore educational software. She'll learn to identify colors and basic shapes. Perhaps most importantly, her social and emotional skills will develop. You may discover over the course of the year that she is better able to listen to directions.

Sample subjects: Counting, rhyming, creating and replicating patterns, recognizing basic sight words

1st Grade
This year brings a change to more desk time. Your 1st grader will most likely be in a state of constant motion. He will depend on the comfort of established routines in order to face big challenges like having daily homework and needing to sit in his chair for longer periods. Fine motor control is still being refined, and he will practice forming letters. Invented spelling is most likely still acceptable, and he may use it to pen original stories. He may begin reading on his own this year.

Sample subjects: Days of the week, numbers over 10, holidays and flags

2nd Grade
Your child may move from beginning to fluent reader this year, but don't despair if reading is still a challenge — most children will get there in their own time. Reading for comprehension is the next goal. Chapter books are on the menu, and your child may be expected to complete her first book report. Fundamental math skills like multiplication and division may be introduced.

Sample subjects: Beginning book reports, adding and subtracting to 20, map skills, telling time

3rd Grade
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, your child encounters her first taste of national standardized testing in this grade. It also often heralds the arrival of the hardcover textbook. Writing becomes more sophisticated with an expectation of utilizing correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Your child may be expected to turn in assignments in legible cursive. Tests become common, but for now, pay attention to your child's experience taking tests rather than the actual scores.

Sample subjects: Beginning multiplication and division, story components such as setting and theme, taking notes effectively, basic library research

4th Grade
While this is a pivotal year for academics, it can also be a challenging one for your child personally. She may fear not being competent. Homework is her responsibility, but she'll still need your help getting it all together. She'll likely write multi-paragraph essays and encounter word problems in math.

Sample subjects: Current events, local and state history, long division, fractions, decimals

5th Grade
Many schools approach health issues like drug awareness and puberty this year. Math becomes increasingly complex and may prove challenging to a child who previously found it elementary. He'll hone his writing skills with frequent assignments. Essays must include a clear beginning, middle, and end, and be revised and polished from first to final draft. Increased responsibility means he's in charge of getting homework done.

Sample subjects: American history, geometry, fractions, probability, research reports

Middle School
Not since kindergarten has your child had to acclimate to so many changes. Subjects are often taught by separate teachers and investigated more deeply. Your child will most likely be expected to have computer skills, including how to research effectively online and properly cite references. If basic math concepts have been missed, it's time to take action because a strong foundation will be expected from here on out. Academically, your child will probably begin figuring out which subjects she enjoys — and excels in — the most.

Sample subjects: Algebra, myths, biographies, life science, American or ancient history

Social Skills
Language Arts
What to Expect by Grade
Age 13
Age 10
Age 12
Age 11
Age 9
Age 8
Age 7
Age 6
Age 5
Child Development and Behavior
Back to School Experiences
Elementary School
Middle School