What Do Kids Learn in First Grade? Be Prepared

When you have a child going into the first grade, it’s essential to be prepared. Understanding what things your student will learn in first grade is a great way to do that. Knowing which objectives are part of first-grade curricula helps parents to be able to support and uplift their kids to academic success. 

What Do Kids Learn in First Grade?

First-Grade Math

During your child’s first-grade year, they learn about many new math skills such as simple addition and subtraction, multiplication, and division. First-grade curricula are designed to help children set a stable foundation for learning in the years to come. So, even though these concepts might seem simple to an adult, they are actually some of the most essential skills students need to know to be successful as they move toward graduation.

Kids also start learning the basics of number sense, geometry, and measurement during their first-grade year. By the time they are ready to move into second grade, children should be able to compare the length, weight, height, and volume of objects. 

Additionally, they will be taught how to compare shapes, correctly identify shapes based on their sides, and learn how to combine two or more shapes to make another (i.e., combining two triangles to create a rectangle or square.)

Number sense is another essential part of math curricula in first grade. Number sense is important because it teaches students how to understand place values. It also shows them how to determine the relationships between numbers. Kids should understand how to group numbers from one through ten together to make more significant numbers. 

So, by the end of first grade, your child should understand how grouping tens together can make hundreds or thousands. They should also be able to identify numbers down to their place value.

They will also begin to learn how to measure objects using a ruler or small measuring tape. Since teachers are only focused on the basics of first-grade instruction, expect your child to be able to measure and identify the length of small objects such as paper clips and pencils. 

First-Grade Reading 

In the first grade, students start learning how to read independently. One of the approaches teachers use to help them reach this objective is helping them understand sight words. These high-frequency words such as “the, we, me, and be” are essential to learning not only because they appear in text so often, but also because they are not easily sounded out or illustrated. Being trained to understand these words on sight is critical to developing strong reading skills. 

First-grade independent reading is also fostered by assigning grade-level books to be read in class. Students typically start reading in small groups, later moving on to reading alone, needing minimal help from teachers or classmates. Part of this is learning how to sound out simple words by considering sounds or letters. They will also begin learning how to use context clues to understand new vocabulary in literature.

In addition to learning how to read, first graders also learn how to identify parts of a story. This means kids should be able to identify the beginning, middle, and end of the stories they read. By the end of the school year, they are expected to retell stories they have learned in the correct order.

First-Grade Writing 

Writing is another essential part of learning for first-grade students. Here are some key points kids focus on in first-grade writing:

  • Write his or her full first and last name 
  • Work on improving penmanship
  • Be able to write simple sentences independently
  • Understand and correctly use punctuation and capitalization
  • Learn and understand singular and plural forms of nouns
  • Be prepared to write short stories and paragraphs independently
  • Learn new spelling words, precisely three and four-letter words 

First-Grade Social Skills

Social skills and social awareness are two non-academic things that kids learn and develop throughout their first grade year. 

At this age, kids are learning how to understand, deal with, and express their emotions. You can expect your first grader to learn about how to express their feelings verbally and non-verbally. They will also begin to learn how to identify others’ emotions based on body language and other non-verbal cues, like facial expressions.

In addition to being aware of and having control over their emotions, kids must also know how to interact with those around them. Being socially aware means that kids understand how their feelings and actions affect the people around them. First graders use this knowledge to begin learning how to form and maintain relationships with classmates, teachers, and administrators.

First-Grade Science

Science in the first grade is generally high-level and easy to understand for most kids. Most of the science curricula at this grade level consists of learning how to classify animals (i.e., mammals, amphibians, reptiles, etc.), getting to know marine life creatures, and about life cycles.

First-Grade Art, Physical Education, and Music

First-grade art is all about exploring. Kids are encouraged to get in touch with their creativity by exploring new mediums and having fun along the way. First-grade art projects can be class-related, such as drawing a picture of a marine animal, or they might consist of self or family portraits. Either way, teaching kids how to get more in touch with their inner creativity is an integral part of first grade.

Music education is another crucial part of fostering kids’ creativity. It’s also a great way to teach children listening skills since children must listen to themselves and their ensemble. Math skills are also developed during music education class since reading music involves quarter, half, and whole notes. In addition to the academic abilities that music helps reinforce, music helps solidify, creating music also helps to reduce stress and improve kids’ self-esteem.

Physical Education classes in first grade set the pace for a lifetime of healthy living. Kids learn how their bodies store and use energy and how to use that energy to make their bodies healthy. Physical activities such as running, skipping, jumping, and rolling are just a few things that you can expect your child to participate in during P.E. Group activities will likely also take place to teach kids how to move quickly. 

First-Grade Social Studies

Students’ first interaction with social studies happens in the first grade. This primary education involves learning about economics, geography, history, and civics. Usually, teachers focus on relating these subjects to families by encouraging children to think about families nearby versus families far away. 

Here are some things kids should understand as a result of studying first-grade social studies:

  • How families change over time 
  • Why families choose to live in a particular place
  • The roles and responsibilities of families and family members
  • How families meet needs and wants 
  • How decisions are made in a family 

First-Grade History 

The key objectives of first-grade history lessons are the history of national holidays and how to identify landmarks, symbols, and documents that are essential parts of history. Kids also learn the basics about immigration, such as lessons about pilgrims and how the United States was founded. This is a necessary part of first-grade curricula since it teaches children about important historical events while also encouraging them to think about and understand the world around them.

Learning About Time

A significant objective in first-grade classrooms is reading analog and digital clocks. Even though understanding how to do these things helps children to be able to understand what time it is, that’s not the only reason it’s crucial. 

Being able to tell time empowers kids since it gives them the structure they need to begin practicing excellent time-management skills. When a child can identify what time is and how much time is left within an hour, they can better plan their day and use their time more effectively. 

Although digital clocks have taken over a majority of the technology space in today’s world, knowing how to read an analog clock is essential since it helps kids understand the concept of the passage of time.

Learning About Money 

It’s undeniable that having a firm understanding of how to count money is one of the most critical skills a person can have. Kids in the first grade learn about the value of coins and dollars, as well as how to do basic money counting. These are vital skills for children to learn early since they are essential to properly manage money, leading to a better quality of life for kids and more responsible, successful adults in society later down the road.

First Grade Learning

Committing to educate yourself about what your child will learn in the first grade is a great way to be prepared to support your child. Since having support and extra help at home is one of the best ways to lead your child to success, having some inside knowledge about what is being taught is a great tool to have in your back pocket.

About Jessica Phillips

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