45 Things Your Child Should Know Before Entering First Grade

    Posted by Sarah Rutzler on June 15, 2022

    how to get your child ready for 1st gradeThe transition from kindergarten to first grade is a big step for any child. Your child will now be a part of a “big school,” meaning they are surrounded by more students, can eat in a cafeteria, and play outside during recess. They 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 your child to start feeling independent.

    Your child has applied what they have 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 your child needs to know before starting first grade.

    Reading and Reading Comprehension Skills

    1. Recognize upper and lower case letters
    2. Know, identify, and increase sight word vocabulary (sight words are words that often are spelled differently than how they sound and children must recognize them by sight. Common sight words are: "their", "if", "of", "each")
    3. Know the alphabet and basic features of letters and words
    4. Memorize and correctly spell around 130-150 words
    5. Decoding or sounding new words out (being able to use letter sounds and patterns to recognize and pronounce written words)
    6. Rhyming more words (ex: frog and clog)
    7. Tell the difference between facts and fiction 
    8. Recall the sequence of events in a story (first, second, third, ending, etc.) 

    Writing Skills

    1. Write upper and lower case letters
    2. Write their name
    3. Use letters and shapes to detect different objects
    4. Create simple words and sentences
    5. Write in complete sentences

    Fine Motor Skills

    1. Hold a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly 
    2. Hold scissors correctly

    Mathematic Skills

    1. Recognize that addition means putting two groups of numbers together (5+4) and that subtraction means taking away from one group (5-4) 
    2. Add and subtract numbers 1 through 10
    3. 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.)
    4. Use objects or draw pictures to help show addition and subtraction
    5. Count simple money
    6. Know numbers from 1-30
    7. Recognize different patterns (ex: blue square, red square, blue square; should know what comes next)
    8. Recognize more shapes and master previous knowledge of shapes (square, circle, sphere, star, rhombus)
    9. 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:

    1. Understand what history is and know some stories, events, and people in history
    2. Know important people in United States history (George Washington)
    3. Understand broad categories of time (past, present, and future)
    4. Know basic cultures and their traditions 
    5. Know people and events honored in commemorative holidays
    6. Recognize American symbols (the flag, the eagle, the Statue of Liberty)
    7. 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:

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

     Social Skills and Abilities 

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

    Genie Academy provides after-school enrichment programs for students covering math, reading, writing, and coding. With locations throughout New Jersey, including Plainsboro, our programs are tailored for students in Pre-K through 8th grade. 

    Read the Rest of the Series!

    Have multiple children in multiple grades? Read the rest of the series!


    • “1st Grade Skills Checklist.” LeapFrog. Web. 29 Aug. 2017.
    • “Preparing for 1st Grade.” Scholastic. Web. 29 Aug. 2017.
    • "Model Curriculum English Language Arts Units," New Jersey State Government,
    • Model Curriculum Grade 1 Mathematics Units, New Jersey State Government,

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    Topics: Problem Solving, Number Writing, First Grade, New School Year, Elementary School

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