What Your Child Learns in Grade School

From Kindergarten to Fifth Grade

Grade school is an action-packed time, full of learning and development. Your child will learn to read and then transition to reading to learn. They will mature emotionally and physically as they grow more independent and approach adolescence. From kindergarten to ​fifth grade, here is a grade-by-grade overview of what you can expect your child to learn in grade school.


What You Can Expect in Kindergarten

Teacher Telling A Story to children.

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Kindergarten curriculums today are less about play and more about academic achievement. Kindergarten is the "new first grade." ​

  • Social skills: Your child will learn self-control skills, how to listen quietly, follow directions, and cooperate with others.
  • Reading and writing skills: Your child will learn the alphabet, letters, corresponding sounds, and sight words. They will also begin to write about themselves and write stories as part of class projects. They'll talk about stories they are reading to show they understand them.
  • Math skills: Your child will count items and recognize numerals up to 20 or higher. They'll begin to learn basic addition and subtraction and other concepts.
  • Science skills: Children learn about plants, animals, parts of the body, senses, seasons, weather, and more.

What You Can Expect in First Grade

first grade class students raising hands smiling

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Your first-grader is becoming surer of themselves and their surroundings. Here's what you can expect in first grade.

  • Social skills: Your child will become more adept at paying attention, following instructions, and exercising self-control. They'll work with classmates on group projects and gain confidence in speaking up in group meetings.
  • Reading and writing: Your child will read books in small groups and independently. They will learn words with similar patterns and become more skilled in using the sounds of letters. They'll work on their handwriting, write words and sentences, and create short stories.
  • Math: Your child will recognize and write numbers up to 100, understand math operations, and do addition and subtraction. They'll begin to understand fractions and measures.
  • Science and social studies: First-graders will learn more about the senses, animal classifications, life cycles, the oceans, and continents.

What You Can Expect in Second Grade

second grade - girl in classroom smiling

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Second-graders are seasoned pros when it comes to knowing how school works. Here is some of what you can expect to see in your child in the second grade.

  • Social skills: Your child continues to mature and develop. They'll build close friendships. They'll learn to concentrate longer and have more patience and self-control.
  • Reading and writing: Your child will read more often independently and read longer stories and books. More emphasis will be placed on spelling. They'll write longer essays and stories using correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and paragraphs. They'll learn to identify parts of speech.
  • Math: Second graders learn counting money and telling time. They perform more complicated addition and subtraction and solve number problems.
  • Science, social studies, and technology: Your child will learn basic computer skills. They'll learn more about the human body, geology, and geography. They'll learn about other cultures, both in current events and history.

What You Can Expect in Third Grade

third grade class

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Having mastered reading, writing, and math, third-graders are on an adventure of discovery. Here's what you can expect from third-grade reading, math, science and other third grade activities and subjects.

  • Social skills: Your third-grader will find friends a more important part of his life. They'll take on more responsibility for homework. They'll work cooperatively on group projects.
  • Reading and writing: Your child will read longer chapter books and write detailed stories and essays with plot points and endings. They'll use reference materials. They'll learn and practice cursive writing.
  • Math: Your child will learn multiplication, fractions, and decimals. They'll multiply and divide double- or triple-digit numbers by single-digit numbers. They'll learn more about weights and measures and use math in real-world problems.
  • Science, social studies, and technology: Your child will learn the states and state capitals, space and the solar system, and how to use maps and globes. They'll learn to use logic and conduct experiments. They'll learn how to analyze and display data. They'll be more skilled at using a computer and keyboarding.

What You Can Expect in Fourth Grade

fourth grade classroom

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Fourth-graders use the skills they've learned in previous grades to find out more about their world. Fourth-grade math, reading, and other subjects will be tackled with reference books and internet searches.

  • Social skills: Your child's sense of self will play out through their social interactions. They will have friendship preferences, but you may need to be aware of issues including cliques, peer pressure, and labeling others. Fourth-graders will be more responsible for organizing and prioritizing their work. Your child may show competitiveness and be emphatic about preferences.
  • Reading and writing: Your child will understand themes and different genres such as fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. They'll increasingly use research materials for reports. They'll build their vocabulary.
  • Math: Your child will work with increasingly difficult fractions, multiplication, and division using multiple digits. They'll start learning geometry and algebra. They'll collect data and display it with graphs, charts, and tables. They'll solve word problems.
  • Science, social studies, and technology: Your child will learn about electricity and energy, American history, geography, and biology. They'll learn how to read maps and about cultures around the world.

What You Can Expect in Fifth Grade

fifth grade class - computer lab

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Your fifth-grader is about to make the big leap into middle school. As fifth-grade science, math, and other subjects become more challenging—and your increasingly social fifth-grader has more demands on their time—they will need to learn how to balance and organize their time and responsibilities.

  • Social skills: Puberty may have begun for your child and their peers. Your child will be more aware of clothing, music, and other things to identify with peers. Your child may spend more time socializing with friends, in person or electronically.
  • Reading and writing: Your child will be able to analyze characters and plots, read periodicals, and research and write reports. They will give oral presentations.
  • Math: Your child will learn about complex fractions, prime numbers, statistics, triangles, area, and operations on fractions.
  • Science, social studies, and technology: Your child will learn about early American history, and how the government is organized and operates. They'll learn more about biology, physiology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, weather, and the environment.
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  1. Brix N, Ernst A, Lauridsen LLB, et al. Timing of puberty in boys and girls: A population-based studyPaediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2019;33(1):70‐78. doi:10.1111/ppe.12507