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Parents of First Graders

These skills usually develop during first grade. 

My child...

knows all the letters of the alphabet-the names and various sounds

knows the difference between letters and words, and knows there are spaces between words in print.

knows that written words represent speech and can show how words are represented by letters arranged in a specific order.

knows some punctuatuion marks and where sentences and paragraphs begin and end.

is beginning to understand and explain why people read.

can put together (blend) and break apart the sounds of most one-syllable words and can count the number of syllables in a word.

can sound out words he/she doesn't know and recognize some irregularly spelled words, such as have, said, you, and are.

reads first grade books aloud, and can tell when he/she cannot understand what he/she is reading.

reads and understands simple written instructions.

uses what he already knows to enrich what he/she is reading.

predicts what will happen next in a story.

asks questions (how,why,what if?) about books he/she is reading and can describe what he/she has learned from a book.

uses invented spelling in his/her writing and also understands that there is a correct way to spell words.

uses simple punctuation marks and capital letters.

writes for different purposes-stories, explanations, lists, letters-and reads and revises his/her writing.

uses language with more control, speaks in complete sentences, and uses more formal language at school than at home and with friends.

is curious about words and new words when he/she speaks and writes.

is beginning to see that some words mean the same thing (synonyms) and some mean the opposite (antonyms).

is learning that words play different roles in sentences-that nouns name things and verbs show action, for example.

This checklist is adapted from A Child Becomes a Reader-Birth Through Preschool.  Get a free copy at

Your child probably knows more than is listed here, but this may be helpful in seeing where your child is and how they are doing in some areas.