Updated: Jun 25
Kindergarten acts as a vital stepping stone towards 1st Grade, but certain aspects often go unnoticed or overlooked if we aren't attentive enough. So, what can you do during the summer to ensure that your child is well-prepared? As a former teacher, I believe there are a few important things that incoming first graders should focus on to set themselves up for success in 1st Grade.
Independently write their first name. This doesn't mean that their name needs to be written perfectly. Most children at this age tend to write their name with a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters and that's okay! This is something you can be working on, as well as learning their last name, followed by their middle name if they have one.
Letters and sounds. By the time a child enters 1st grade they should have a firm grasp on all 26 letters of the alphabet and their sounds, including long and short vowels. If you're not sure they are comfortable with every letter, take a letter each day and talk about it. Every time you see an object that begins with that letter point it out!
Writing lowercase and uppercase letters. If a child knows how to write all of the letters, both upper and lowercase, writing their name as well as other words, even if they need to copy the spelling, shouldn't be too difficult. If a child is struggling with writing, incorporate writing into your daily letter work. Focus writing that one letter throughout the day. Upper and lower case, on lined paper, in the air, with their finger...get creative!
Reading & Writing age appropriate sight words. Fry words children usually learn in Kindergarten are generally 2-4 letter words such as: the, of, as, you, had, were...etc. There are lists of these online that are easily accessible. Another way that you can practice these words is while you are reading to your child. Have them point out words they recognize and then write them out after the story!
Write a simple sentence. Sentences that children learn in Kindergarten are generally very simple and only consist of 3-5 words. For example: I have a cat; I like red. Sentences include sight words that the child is already familiar with. If a child is struggling with writing a sentence on their own, first have them dictate to you, then copy what you have written. Model the correct way to write a sentence: with a capital letter and end mark.
Identifies math symbols such as :+, -, =. In 1st grade, children will be adding and subtracting a lot more, as well as getting into double digits. Understanding the math symbols and what they represent will be very important in order to keep up. Something silly I have done with one of my students who sometimes forgets the difference between the addition and subtraction symbols is every time we get to a math problem, I have him hold up his arm, either horizontally to represent a subtraction sign, or cross both of them for addition, and it has helped!
Counting to 100. Counting can be done in numerous ways and does not require any materials. Count everything! Count the cars in a parking lot, or the amount or chips you have left. Counting is the foundation of many math skills, especially in 1st grade, so having that down with be helpful.
Adding & Subtracting within 10. As I mentioned above, 1st grade will begin to introduce adding and subtraction, at least within 20 and sometimes higher, so knowing how to add and subtract all the numbers within 10 before that will make sure your child is right on track! This is also something that is very easily done at home without boring worksheets.
I always say that children don't always learn at the same pace or in the same way so we might have to pivot our methods that might have worked with a different child or student. If your child doesn't have all of these down before 1st grade that is okay! Some children start out a little bit slower in Kindergarten but all you can do is do your best to work with them at home and encourage them. At this point they are only 5-6 years old, still babies! Let them be young children, school isn't everything, but I hope this list of what most schools expect in the 1st grade was helpful!
As always, if your child is struggling and you need some help, please reach out! This is what Inspired Tutors is all about. Join my summer program! June 12-16 is strictly for children entering 1st grade this fall.