Getting Ready for the First Grade

Getting Ready for the First Grade

Is your child ready for the first grade and, just as importantly, are you? Each child develops at their own pace, but educators agree that having certain social and academic skills make going to school easier for first graders. Here is a basic guideline of the skills your child should have. If you feel they need work in an area, utilize the summer break to get them up to speed. If your child has been attending kindergarten, ask his or her teacher what their thoughts are. They will be able to advise you on areas that need attention and will be able to suggest activities that will help develop skills your child needs to make the change to first grade as seamless as possible.

Social Skills

First graders can be shy, but they must be able to make friends and converse with teachers and students. This will enable them to work, play and share with their classmates. They must be able to follow instructions and use equipment (like scissors and glue) safely and carefully. Other social skills that are essential are the ability to use words to resolve conflicts and seek the help of adults with tasks they are struggling with or to resolve problems.

Writing Skills

Students should understand the concept of writing. This means that they can use pictures to tell a story or shapes and letters to represent ideas. They should be able to recognise the letters of the alphabet and read and write their own names. They must be able to hold a pen or pencil correctly and demonstrate an understanding of left-to-right progression and top-to-bottom progression.

Reading Skills

Reading and comprehension skills revolve around stories. If you read to your students regularly and they show an independent interest in books, then you are already most of the way there! Students should show an interest in books which are read aloud and be able to tell simple stories of their own. They should be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet and their associated phonetic sounds. They should also be able to distinguish between capital and lower case letters.

First graders should also be able to recognise rhyming patterns and add to them. For example: if you say cat, hat, bat, they should be able to add another rhyming word. Students should also be able to sort words into categories like clothing, animals, colors etc. A basic knowledge of simple punctuation is also a good asset for the future reader.


Prepare your child for the first grade by encouraging them to learn rhymes, songs and poems. They should be able to tell short stories of their own with a logical plot and a beginning, middle and an end. They should be able to distinguish between the way they speak to their friends and the more formal way they speak to teachers. They should be able to follow instructions, ask questions and make requests.

Speaking with kindergarten teachers, tutors and other care givers will help you to form a comprehensive idea of what your student should be capable of. You can ask their first grade teacher about their progress in the first week of school. Your first grade teacher is the best person to advise you on areas that your student needs to work on.

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