What Do Kids Learn in 1st Grade?

What you can expect kids to learn in 1st grade

first grade classroom - kids raising hands
What do kids typically learn in first grade?. Christopher Futcher/Getty Images

What Will Kids Learn in 1st Grade?

For many kids, 1st grade is a year to feel "big." They're no longer the youngest in the school, they can read a little bit and they've most likely experienced a physical growth spurt since kindergarten. First grade teachers use that bigness as a way to challenge students to learn bigger things this year. Reading takes off, math becomes more complex and science and social studies explore beyond kids' inner circles. State-by-state, lessons and topics may vary, but there are some common topics 1st grade kids will learn this year.

  • Math

First grade is a year to explore and introduce a number of different concrete building blocks of math, such as problem solving, operations and number sense. Last year, your 1st grader learned to count with one-to-one correspondence, recognize numerals and sort into groups. This first grade year continues to build on these concepts, using hands-on manipulatives like Cuisenaire rods and snap cubes to more concretely visualize the numbers as your child begins basic addition and subtraction.

She will learn to use an analog clock to tell time to the minute, be asked to recognize coins, count money, solve simple word problems, count beyond 100 and understand basic place value.

  • Reading

First grade is the year when students seemingly begin to read overnight. By now your child is able to recognize her name and some other core words in print, is able to write, recognize and have sound correspondence of most of the letters in the alphabet and, even if she's not reading yet, she has a good grasp on concepts about print. 

This year she will continue to build phonemic awareness with more complicated sounds like blends and digraphs. She will be taught a number of strategies for decoding words she doesn't know or is unable to sound out and start to answer questions about the meaning of what she's read.

  • Writing

Your child's fine motor skills have improved a great deal since she began kindergarten, providing the control she needs to really begin writing. Expect your child to begin formal work on handwriting skills this year in addition to creative writing tasks. Some teachers will focus on inventive spelling, allowing children to write the sounds they hear in words, while also instructing students using weekly spelling words. Your 1st grader will learn how to use punctuation and capitals, but, more importantly, she will start to use writing as a tool for communication.

  • Science

Like math, science in 1st grade focuses on finding patterns, though in science the patterns explored are in the natural world. Your child will spend time learning about insects and their common characteristics and may even follow the life cycle of a butterfly.

She'll learn about weather patterns and how they contribute to the water cycle, as well as learning how the water cycle is a pattern for sustaining life. Other areas of study include: dental hygiene, magnets and animal and plant life.

  • Social Studies

Expect your child to begin exploring the concept of community beyond her family this year. She'll learn about how neighborhoods make up cities, cities make up states and states make up nations, with a focus on how all of those components work together to create a cohesive unit. For many students, this year brings a number of field trips to neighborhood businesses, local government and public institutions like the library.

Was this page helpful?