How Do I Know If My Child Is Ready for First Grade?

Child Ready for First GradeMany parents who ask the question, “How do I know if my child is ready for first grade?” scour the internet for checklists and comparison sheets to ease any fear associated with their student’s transition to a full day of learning, interaction, and responsibility. Though the checklists can be helpful (and something of the sort is provided below), it is important to remember that each child develops differently, at a different rate, and through various means. No list is all inclusive, and often there are other factors to consider in determining your child’s readiness, such as his or her fit with the school program he/she will be enrolled in.

Parents also have the important task of thinking about these things before the sound of that first-day school bell. In addition to tracking your child’s development throughout the kindergarten school year (and discussing concerns and plans with teachers and counselors), remember to make your child’s home environment equally stimulating. Some examples of ways to interact educationally at home with your child are listed in the article below, but there are countless other ways to add to your students development as well. Many schools offer conferences and workshops to aid in “at home learning”; thousands of websites offer free online games for every topic you can imagine;  academic extracurricular activities, such as A Grade Ahead,  are offered throughout the year. Taking advantage of these opportunities are beneficial to both you and your growing student.

In general, a first grader is responsible for certain academic, social, and personal milestones that need to be met for success before entering the first grade. Additional lists can be found in places like the Common Core Standards, program pamphlets, and classroom websites.


Subjects such as Math and English in kindergarten and preschool are full of information that should be well ingrained in your child by the time he or she is ready to move up to first grade. At home, you can work on honing these skills by playing games and getting your child involved in thinking tasks.  

First Grade Math Skills

  • Counting up to 30
  • Addition and subtraction for numbers 1-10
  • Concepts of greater than and less than
  • Breaking up numbers into countable groupings
  • Simple word problems
  • Introductory usage of graphs
  • Rulers
  • Thermometers
  • Calendars
  • Counting and recognizing money


  • Adding or subtracting objects in the home
  • Playing counting games like Pass It!
  • Playing card games like Addition War
  • Cooking or baking together
  • Keeping track of the daily temperature
  • Using a family calendar to organize daily tasks and events

First Grade English Skills

  • Writing of lower and uppercase alphabet
  • Simple Sight words
  • Good understanding of rhyming words
  • Retelling of simple stories
  • Can make predictions about a story
  • Can identify the where, when, what, why, and who of a story
  • Can compose his or her own simple story
  • Can name things in a picture


  • Play rhyming games
  • Write stories together
  • Have a family spelling bee
  • Read together daily
  • Work on photo albums that require labeling
  • Explore new places and objects to increase vocabulary


  One of biggest changes from kindergarten to first grade is that a child is now expected to spend a full day, five days a week within a classroom setting. It might be an overwhelming change for some students, but with certain skills already in hand, it shouldn’t take too long to adjust. There are also things parents can do to at home to help their child feel prepared socially.  

Social Skills

  • Follows the rules of conversation
  • Can share and take turns with others
  • Asks questions if unsure of something
  • Follows rules and asks permission
  • Follows instructions
  • Asks an adult for help when needed
  • Can be away from home all day
  • Can pay attention for 20-30 minutes at a time
  • Can work alone
  • Can work in small groups


  • Practice conversation etiquette on topics of your child’s interest
  • Talk and listen to people outside of your child’s family
  • Do crafts using paper, scissors, markers & glue such as Chinese Lanterns
  • Work on puzzles as together
  • Give your child a daily chore
  • Give your child a task with instructions that require remembering two to three steps


  Since first grade students will most likely be in a classroom where there is one teacher to many children, it is imperative that a child of this age knows how to do certain things for him or herself. Many of these skills your child has probably learned already just by having to do them at home. However, if there are certain things he or she is struggling with before the beginning of the school year (or even after the school year begins) these skills are easy enough to practice at home.  

Personal Skills

  • Able to tie shoes
  • Able to button buttons
  • Able to zip zippers
  • Uses the restroom with proper bathroom etiquette
  • Knows when and how to use a tissue
  • Maintains personal belongings (backpack, lunch, etc.)
  • Can clean up after him or herself
  • Knows when and how to wash hands

      Knowing if your child is ready for first grade is unfortunately, not as simple as checking off a list of skills. However, having a general idea of the expectations going into this new environment will help you feel more confident about your child’s ability to succeed. The most important thing to remember is to give support and encouragement in all aspects of your child’s development. With your involvement and dedication toeducation your child is certain to have a strong foundation to grow on.

What things have you done to help prepare your child for first grade?

Author: Celeste Irving, Writer & Editor at A Grade Ahead


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