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Things Your Child Should Know Before Entering First Grade

Posted by Sarah Rutzler on September 11, 2017

The transition from kindergarten to first grade is a big step for a child. A child is now apart of a “big school,” meaning he/she is surrounded by more students, can eat in a cafeteria, and play outside during recess. He/she will also adjust to a longer school day, receive more homework, and learn to get around without much help. These changes in routine will cause a child to start feeling independent.

A child has applied what he/she has learned in preschool to kindergarten and has now gathered more information in kindergarten to apply in first grade. It is important that children have learned certain facts and information in kindergarten so they can apply those skills next year to help them grow. By the end of kindergarten, their knowledge of reading, writing, numbers, and problem solving have grown, along with being introduced to other subjects like social studies and science.

Here is an example checklist of what a child needs to know before starting first grade (checklist can vary based on your state’s academic standards).


Reading and Reading Comprehension Skills

  • Recognize upper and lower case letters
  • Know, identify, and increase site word vocabulary (site words are words that reappear on different pages of books. Common site words are and, an, but, from, after)
  • Know the alphabet and basic features of letters and words
  • Memorize and correctly spell around 130-150 words
  • Decoding (being able to use letter sounds and patterns to recognize and pronounce written words)
  • Rhyming more words (ex: frog and clog)
  • Tell the difference between facts and fiction (ex: fish swim and bears can read books)
  • Recall sequence of events in a story (first, second, third, ending, etc.) 

Writing Skills

  • Write upper and lower case letters
  • Write ones’ name
  • Use letters and shapes to detect different objects
  • Create simple words and sentences
  • Write in complete sentences

 Fine Motor Skills

  • Hold a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly 
  • Hold scissors correctly

 Mathematic Skills

  • Recognize that addition means putting two groups of numbers together (5+4) and that subtraction means taking away from one group (5-4) 
  • Add and subtract numbers 1 through 10
  • Use objects to show how to break up numbers less than or equal to 10 in different ways (ex: 6 apples = two groups of 3 apples, or 6 apples = a group of 4 apples and a group of 2 apples.)
  • Use objects or draw pictures to help show addition and subtraction
  • Count simple money
  • Know numbers from 1-30
  • Recognize different patterns (ex: blue square, red square, blue square; should know what comes next)
  • Recognize more shapes and master previous knowledge of shapes (square, circle, sphere, star, rhombus)
  • Know the tools to measure time and temperature

 Social Studies Skills

Social Studies is a subject that is gradually introduced to children in kindergarten. They will learn about past history and events that took place in America. Your child should be able to:

  • Understand what history is and know some stories, events, and people in history
  • Know important people in United States history (George Washington)
  •   •  Understand broad categories of time (past, present, and future)
  •   •  Know basic cultures and their traditions 
  •   •  Know people and events honored in commemorative holidays
  •   •  Recognize American symbols (the flag, the eagle, the Statue of Liberty)
  •   • Understand that there are other instruments used to locate places (maps, globes)

 Science Skills

Science is another subject that is introduced to children in kindergarten. Science teaches about the universe and the natural world through experiments. There are many different areas of science that are introduced upon grade level. Your child should be able to:

  • Do easy, hands-on experiments
  • Know the four seasons and their different climates
  • Know the importance of the sun and what it provides the Earth with
  • Know the difference between living and non-living things (a plant vs. a teddy bear)
  • Recognize how we impact the Earth in terms of recycling and pollution 

  Social Skills and Abilities 

  • Participate in group activities
  • Share and communicate appropriately with other students
  • Respect their peers
  • Raise their hand before being called on
  • Seek help with assignments when needed
  • Show eager and willingness to learn
  • Sit for a longer period of time than in kindergarten (15-20 minutes)


Click the links below to see an outlined model curriculum for first grade (note this outline is for the state of New Jersey. State model curriculums will vary)




“1st Grade Skills Checklist.” LeapFrog. Web. 29 Aug. 2017.

“Preparing for 1st Grade.” Scholastic. Web. 29 Aug. 2017.

Topics: Education, Enhanced Learning, Academic Standards, First Grader, Problem Solving, Number Writing

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