First grade is very different from kindergarten. If you have a child who is about to start first grade, you can expect this school year to be slightly more difficult. In first grade, your child will learn many new things, including different phonics patterns, sight words, and writing and punctuation skills. All of these skills are learned to help make your child a better reading and writer.
Sight words will prove to be the foundation for your first grader’s developing reading skills. There are many common words used in basic text that cannot be sounded out. Since these words can’t be sounded out, they need to be recognized on sight. Knowing sight words will help your first grader read appropriate text with ease, allowing him or her to build fluency and comprehension. Talk to your child’s teacher or school to find out which sight words your first grader will need to know. Practice these sight words daily so that your child will have the necessary foundation to progress in reading.
In kindergarten, your child learned the basics of phonics. This includes knowing the sounds each letter makes, as well as how to use those sounds to decode simple CVC words like top and hat. In first grade, these phonics skills will be further developed so that your child can sound out words that use long vowel teams, digraphs, and silent –e endings. This includes words like beam (ea vowel team), chin (digraph ch), and skate (silent –e ending). Knowing these phonics patterns and rules will help your first grader sound out more difficult text, including words with two syllables.
Understanding what is being read is an important skill every first grader will need to develop. Many times, when children first learn to read, their focus is solely on figuring out what the word is. This can take away their attention from comprehending or remembering what the story is all about. To help build comprehension, encourage your first grader to retell the story, including any key details, main characters, and major events. If your child cannot recall this important information, encourage him or her to re-read the story. After reading the story a second time, your child should be able to retell the story and answer questions about the text.
In kindergarten, your child was expected to write 1-2 sentences at a time to describe or explain something. For example, if your kindergartener was asked to write about what happened on spring break, the teacher would expect to see something like, “I went to Florida on spring break. It was fun.” In first grade, however, writing expectations will be higher. Instead of two simple sentences, your first grader will be expected to write multiple sentences and use varied vocabulary to help tell a story or describe an event. A first grader who has been asked to write about spring break will be expected to write more, such as, “I went to Florida on spring break. It was fun because I got to go to the beach. When I was at the beach, I found some sea shells and a star fish.” If you want to give your first grader a boost when it comes to writing, ask questions that will encourage details, such as, “What did you do in Florida? Was there anything else that happened?”
In first grade, your child will be expected to use the proper punctuation for a sentence. That means that your child will need to know the difference between a period, comma, exclamation point, and question mark. This punctuation skill will come in handy whenever your first grader is writing independently.
Children are taught the basics in kindergarten, but now they will learn even more. First grade is all about extending what was taught in kindergarten so that your child continues to grow and develop important reading and writing skills.