BlogSchool Resources for KidsWhat Do First Graders Learn: Overview, Subjects & Skills

What Do First Graders Learn: Overview, Subjects & Skills

It was like yesterday when you were walking your child to kindergarten. And now, they are ready to start the first grade. It’s such an emotional moment for a parent when their child achieves a milestone like first grade. But, it is also overwhelming and daunting for parents because they have no clue what what do first graders learn.

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First grade is a big transition for a child—from the playful and fun environment of prekindergarten, they are moving towards a more academically challenging environment. It can be overwhelming for both parents and students.

Therefore, if your child is starting 1st grade this year, you should learn all about what to teach a grade 1 child so you and your child can come prepared on the first day of school. This guide on 1st-grade course outline is a small step to help you understand what 1st grade will bring your way.

6 Reasons Why Grade 1 Is Important?

Why first grade is important written with 2 kids on the side

You’ve just completed an overload of sensory and cognitive experiences, and now it’s time to refine and utilize them. Welcome to first grade!

Why is first grade so important? It’s not merely an introduction to more advanced concepts; it’s the foundational stage upon which your child’s future education is built. Here’s why it matters:

1st grade is a super important year in a child’s school journey! But you might wonder, why is it so important? Well, let me explain it to you in simple words.

1. Building the Learning Foundation: First grade is like the starting point of a big race. It’s where kids begin to build the foundation for all their future learning. Just like you need strong bricks to build a sturdy house, you need 1st grade to build a strong base for your education.

2. Reading Magic: In 1st grade, kids learn to read, and that’s like learning a superpower! When you can read, you can explore amazing stories, learn new things, and even go on adventures through books. Reading opens a whole new world, and 1st grade is where it all begins.

3. Math Skills: Math might sound tricky, but in 1st grade, kids start learning the basics. It’s like learning to count, add, and subtract. These are like the building blocks of math, and they will use them in math class for years to come.

4. Friendship and Social Skills: 1st grade is not just about books and numbers. It’s also about making friends and learning how to get along with others. These social skills are super important because you’ll use them throughout your life.

5. Confidence Boost: When kids succeed in 1st grade, it gives them a big boost of confidence. They start believing in themselves and their abilities. This confidence helps them tackle more challenging tasks in the future.

6. Setting the Tone: How kids feel about school in 1st grade can affect how they feel about school in the years ahead. If they have a positive experience, they’re more likely to stay excited about learning

According to research published on the Harvard Graduate School of Education website, academic success can be determined as early as first grade. However, if your child is struggling, it doesn’t mean they are destined for failure. It simply signifies the need for adjustments, such as additional help in reading and math, changing classrooms, or considering alternative educational approaches. The first grade lays the foundation, and it’s essential to ensure it’s a solid one.

What do First Graders Learn: 8 Subjects

So, what do first graders learn? You will find some variations in the course outline outline around the states. However, basic grade 1 topics are mostly the same everywhere. Usually, students learn math, reading, writing, science, and social studies in the 1st grade. Here are fundamental grade 1 subjects that are taught to kids in the first grade:

1. Reading in the 1st Grade

First grade students in a classroom

Your kids have already learned different sounds and read small words during kindergarten. The reading level will increase in the first grade, and your children will learn more complicated words and sounds. They will also be asked to read paragraphs and answer questions based on them. 

First graders are expected to read fluently and understand the information they read. Some of the other topics that the first-grade reading course outline includes are:

  • A comprehensive reading of the entire first-grade material.
  • Re-telling stories provided in the academic books.
  • Creating characteristics based on the stories.
  • Learning the meanings of similar words and how to use them in a sentence.
  • Distinguish between narrative and nonfiction texts.
Related Reading: Best Books To Read For 1st graders

2. Writing in the 1st Grade

Schoolgirl does homework at school desk

The writing level in first grade will increase by a couple of levels. As your child’s motor skills have already developed in kindergarten, teachers will focus more on creative and inventive writing. 

Teachers can ask their students to use their imagination and write something unique. They can also motivate students to understand the sounds of words and write them. Besides this, handwriting improvement is one of the main agendas in the 1st-grade course outline. Other things that first-grade writing lessons include:

  • When to use lower and upper cases while writing.
  • Correct usage of ending punctuation like full stop and question marks.
  • The right way to use frequency words in writing.
  • Make writing more detailed and comprehensive. 
  • Usage of descriptive words.
  • Learn to write narratives with two or more sequenced events.
  • Correctly spell the familiar words. 
  • Learn to edit their writing. 
Related Reading: Fun Writing Prompts for 1st Grade: Journal Prompts

3. Math in the 1st Grade

A girl doing addition

Your children already know how to count, recognize numbers, and organize them into different groups. So, all the previous math concepts will be revised in the first-grade math course outline. Afterward, teachers will introduce more problem-solving and common addition or subtraction problems to your child. 

In the first grade, teachers focus more on setting the foundation for advanced math learning. Thus, they will teach your child:

  • Addition and subtraction for small or single numbers.
  • Counting money
  • Learn to see time on an analog clock. 
  • Identify different shapes
  • Recognize coins and currency notes. 
  • Number Sense
  • Measurement and Geometry 
  • Time and Money 
  • Solve simple word math problems
  • Learn to read, write and count numbers more than 100.
  • Understand base values. 
  • Count numbers based on their tens or one’s place.
  • Compare two or more objects based on length, weight, and volume.
  • Find more than and less than a given number using the symbols =, <, or >.
Related Reading: How to Make Math Fun for Kids – 15 Best Ways

4. Science in the 1st Grade

Child going back to school Start of new school year after summer vacation

Your child will learn more about life science and natural science in first-grade science. The teacher will introduce basic science concepts in the 1st grade using pictures and intuitive experiments, such as:

  • The life cycle of a butterfly. 
  • Learn about animals and insects and their characteristics. 
  • Understand the earth’s weather, climate, rain formation, etc. 
  • Basics of physical science and different properties of gas, liquid, and solid. 
  • Introduction to common measurement tools like thermometers.
  • Weather patterns.
  • Environmental science. 
Related Reading: Easy Science Experiments for Kids to Enjoy & Learn

5. Social Studies in the 1st Grade

Beautiful children teacher and parent together in a classroom at the school

Social studies is one of the important subjects taught in the first grade. This subject helps students develop social skills and understand how communities worldwide work. Some of the basic social science concepts taught in the 1st grade are:

  • How many states are in the country?
  • How do neighborhoods and local communities help to form a city?
  • The concept of a community. 
  • Information about public and private institutions like libraries, public healthcare facilities, etc. 
  • The way various community components work together as a cohesive unit.

6. Geography in the 1st Grade

Kids pointing at a globe

In 1st grade, children are introduced to the wonderful world of geography. This subject helps them understand more about the Earth and the places on it. Here are some of the things they learn in their geography lessons:

  • Maps and Globes
  • Countries and Cultures
  • Directions
  • Exploring Your Own Area
  • Caring for the Earth

7. Art in 1st-Grade

A kid painting

Art encompasses various forms beyond drawing and painting, including music, sculpting, building, and woodworking. First graders are inherently creative thinkers, and with the right techniques, they can be motivated to unleash their imaginations. Here are some of the exciting things kids learn in their art classes:

Related Reading: Best Online Art Games for Kids for Fun and Creativity

8. Physical Education in 1st-Grade

Kids practicing hula hoop

In a time when childhood obesity and diabetes are prevalent, physical activity is crucial. Encouraging physical activity in first grade sets a pattern for a healthy lifestyle. In 1st grade PE classes, kids have a blast while learning important physical skills:

6 Tips for 1st Graders’ Parents

Mother sending her kid off to school

If you are stressed about what do kids learn in first grade you should take it easy. If you start to panic, your child will automatically feel the pressure. Here are some tips that you can use to ease the tension: 

  1. Visit the school and classroom to understand what environment your child will get in the first grade.
  2. You can interact with your child’s new first-grade teacher to know what they will teach your child.
  3. Connect with other first graders’ parents to know their children’s problems during the first grade.
  4. You can talk to your child openly and prepare them for a new class, friends, and teachers.
  5. Go online and find information related to the 1st-grade course outline in your district.
  6. Before sending your child to a new grade, you can start teaching some concepts at home like addition, subtraction, life sciences and more. This way, your child will feel prepared when the teacher teaches the subjects in the class.


Sending off your child to 1st grade can be overwhelming and challenging for you. But, it would help if you did not lose your calm. We know it’s easier said than done.

However, you will feel relaxed when informed and aware of what to teach class 1 students. This guide has touched on all the essentials of what do first graders learn. So, you now know what to expect in the first grade. Therefore, relax and start preparing for the new milestone of your child.

Related Reading: Best Picks for 1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the basic elements of the 1st-grade course outline?

The structure of first-grade subjects should include elements to help students become independent readers and improve their phonics, phonemic awareness, and comprehension. It should also include grammar and basic life lessons to develop a child’s speaking and listening skills.

Is the structure of first-grade skills the same all around the state?

The foundation of the first-grade is the same everywhere. However, you might find some variations in the lesson planning or teaching methods. Therefore, you should consult your child’s school and teacher to know more about what they will teach in the first grade.

What do first graders learn before starting first grade?

A first grader should have a basic understanding of numbers, letters, and simple reading skills. Social skills like sharing, listening, and following instructions are also important.

Jill Baker
Jill Baker has been teaching for 10 years and she loves sharing everything she has learned to help other teachers.