First Grade

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First Grade Parents' Guide to Student Success

English Language Arts & Literacy

In 1st grade, your child will become a more independent reader and writer. Your child will continue to learn and practice rules for recognizing the sounds that make up words and will be able to sound out more complex words. Such foundational skills are necessary and important components of developing proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend a wide range of materials. Students will learn to think about what they read and talk about the main ideas of simple stories. As they write and speak, 1st graders will learn to use language appropriately; this includes using complete sentences and spelling words with increasing accuracy

A Sample of What Your Child Will Be Working on in 1st Grade 

  • Using phonics (matching letters and sounds) and word analysis skills to figure out unfamiliar words when reading and writing
  • Describing characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details
  • Getting facts and information from different writings
  • Writing about a topic, supplying some facts, and providing some sense of opening and closing
  • Participating in shared research and writing projects (e.g., exploring a number of “how-to” books and using them to write a sequence of instructions)
  • Taking part in conversations about topics and texts being studied by responding to the comments of others and asking questions to clear up any confusion
  • Describing people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly and with complete sentences
  • Producing and expanding complete simple and compound statements, questions, commands, and exclamations
  • Identifying the correct meaning for a word with multiple meanings, based on the sentence or paragraph in which the word is used (e.g., deciding whether the word bat means a flying mammal or a club used in baseball)
  • Learning to think about finer distinctions in the meanings of near-synonyms (e.g., marching, prancing, strutting, strolling, walking)


In 1st grade, your child will build on last year’s work and gain important new skills. One of the most important outcomes for the year is to improve speed and accuracy adding with a sum of 20 or less and subtracting from a number 20 or less (e.g., 17 – 8). Another important goal in 1st grade is adding with a sum of 100 or less; this will rely on understanding what the digits mean in a number such as 63 (namely, 63 is six tens and three ones). Working with multi-digit addition this year will set the stage for 2nd grade, when your child will be working with three-digit numbers and adding and subtracting with larger numbers.

A Sample of What Your Child Will Be Working on in 1st Grade

  • Solving addition and subtraction word problems in situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing (e.g., a taking from situation would be: “Five apples were on the table. I ate some apples. Then there were three apples. How many apples did I eat?”)
  • Adding with a sum of 20 or less, and subtracting from a number 20 or less, for example by using strategies based around the number 10 (e.g., to solve 13 – 4, one can start with 13, subtract 3 to reach 10, and then subtract 1 more to reach 9)
  • Quickly and accurately adding with a sum of 10 or less, and quickly and accurately subtracting from a number 10 or less (e.g., 2 + 5, 7 – 5)
  • Understanding what the digits mean in two-digit numbers (place value)
  • Using understanding of place value to add and subtract (e.g., 38 + 5, 29 + 20, 64 + 27, 80 – 50)
  • Measuring lengths of objects by using a shorter object as a unit of length
  • Making composite shapes by joining shapes together, and dividing circles and rectangles into halves or fourths

Help Your Child Learn at Home

English Language Arts & Literacy

  • Encourage your child to read to you books such as Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik. Help him or her sound out difficult words. To find more books for your child to read, visit
  • Act out stories together from books, television, or your child’s imagination.
  • Pick a “word of the day” each day starting with a different letter. Have your child write the word and look for other things beginning with the same letter.
  • Visit the library with your child every week. Have your child sign up for a library card.


Look for “word problems” in real life. Some 1st grade examples might include:

  • If you open a new carton of a dozen eggs, and you use four eggs to cook dinner, close the carton and ask your child how many eggs are left.
  • While putting away toys into bins, count the number of toys in two bins and ask your child how many more are in one bin compared to the other.
  • Play the “I’m thinking of a number” game. For example, “I’m thinking of a number that makes 11 when added to 8. What is my number?”