Do you wonder about developmental milestones in first grade? The physical skills a 6-year-old has when going into first grade won’t differ that much from those of a 7-year-old at the end of first grade. But typical first-grade development includes big changes in social and thinking skills.
Most children gain stamina and coordination during first grade. They typically start the year uncoordinated and clumsy, because the big muscles in arms and legs are better developed than the small muscles used for smaller movements. What they can do physically doesn’t change as much as how well they’re able to do it. Most children reach these milestones in first grade:
Have improved hand-eye coordination for things like kicking a ball or tying shoelaces
Dance in time with the music, perhaps even adding cool moves like spinning in place without moving from one spot
Have improved handwriting that becomes neater and easier to read
Your child’s thinking skills in first grade allow him to start exploring the world to find answers to his own questions. During first grade, most children:
Start developing the skills to reason and think logically; try to think about things before making decisions
Use what they hear and read to start learning—not just what they see and do
Find it hard to make choices because they want to do everything at once
Can read a number of sight words (words they see frequently and can read without sounding out) and sound out and read other words
Begin to have a better sense of time; understand increments of time, days, weeks, months and seasons
Start to show specific learning strengths—the ways they learn best
By this age, your child may use language in long and complicated sentences to tell about past, present and future. He may start combining spoken language with reading and writing this year. First graders typically:
Start sounding out words; understand the relationship between letters and sounds
Know, use and understand thousands of words
Stop reversing letters (by the end of first grade)
Social and Emotional Milestones
First-grade social and emotional skills are an interesting mix of independence and an increased need for your attention and approval. By age 7, kids typically start to understand that friendships aren’t something they can control by themselves. That may make them a little anxious. Many children also:
Are more independent, but less secure; want a lot of attention and approval from adults
Form and break friendships easily; can be critical of other kids
Have feelings hurt more easily and start being very aware of other people’s feelings
Are eager to please and want to “be first” and win
Understand right from wrong, but look for the loopholes in rules to get what they want
Become more gracious losers and are able to reflect on their role in conflicts (by the end of the year)
There’s a lot of variation in the pace at which kids develop skills throughout first grade. Your child may meet social and emotional milestones before physical milestones or vice versa.
However, if your child isn’t able to do most of these things by the end of first grade, consider speaking with his teacher or talking to his doctor about the possibility of an evaluation. If your child needs support in some skill areas, now is a good time to start!
Take a look forward at developmental milestones for second and third graders.