Below is an informal 12-point checklist for your 1st grade child at the midyear mark. Use this to measure six important math and six important English/Language Arts skills that are crucial to 1st grade progress. As a 1st grade teacher with many years of experience, I strongly recommend that you check your child’s midyear academic progress as measured by the Common Core State Standards.
By midyear in math, your 1st grader should be able to:
Count to 50 by ones, fives, and tens.
Start to distinguish common shapes by attributes. For example, a triangle has three sides and three corners; a circle has no sides or corners.
Understand connections between counting and addition and subtraction. For example, that adding two is the same as counting by twos.
Know most addition and subtraction facts to 10. Part of this means knowing “turnaround” facts. For example, if 6+3 = 9 is known, then 3+6 = 9 should be also. Conversely, if 9–3 = 6, then 9–6 = 3.
Begin to understand and use “greater than” and “less than” symbols ( > or <) .
Begin to understand place value. This means seeing the number 54, for example, and knowing that the five is in the tens place and represents 50, and the 4 is in the ones place and represents 4. So 54 means 5 tens, and 4 ones.
In English/Language Arts by midyear, your 1st grader should:
Know all uppercase and lowercase letters.
Start to understand beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words.
Begin to make substitutions to create new words. For example, if the “h” in “hat” is changed to “s,” what is the new word? If the “t” in “hat” is changed to an “m,” what’s the new word? If the “a” in “hat” is changed to an “o,” what’s the new word?
Start to know and apply learned phonics skills to decode unknown words. In other words, “sound out” a new word.
Ask and answer some questions about key details in both fiction and nonfiction texts.
Begin to understand the main idea of a story, and find some evidence from the text to support that idea.
If you have concerns, schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher. At this meeting, ask for suggestions of what you can do at home to help him succeed. Between January and June is a good length of time to remediate or accelerate preparation for grade 2.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.