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Reading & Language

First Grader Language Development Milestones

A girl reading on a treeCracking the Code of Words

The number of words your first grader can read and spell increases dramatically during this year. Children can achieve this through lots of practice, at school and at home. Through talking with adults, listening to books read aloud, and discussing everyday experiences, they continue to develop the language skills that help them learn to read and write. Most importantly, your first grader starts to “crack the code” of written language, as he sounds out words, learns to identify them, and understands their meaning.

First graders develop the tools for reading the printed word. They learn to recognize many common words by sight, and they develop strategies for “decoding,” or figuring out, words as they read. By the end of the year, most first graders are able to read easy books all by themselves. Writing daily helps your first grader learn to read by reinforcing the relationships between sounds and letters. At the same time, through talking and listening, she continues to develop new vocabulary and knowledge about the world that will help her understand what she reads.

First graders spend a large part of their day at school reading and writing. However, parents still have a huge effect on a child’s literacy development. When you talk to your first grader about new words, listen to her read books aloud, and communicate with her teacher on a regular basis, you take simple but important steps in supporting her reading and writing. Learn more ways you can encourage and inspire your first grader as she learns to read and write.

How to Help Your First Grader Read and Write

  • Play word games and board games. Games are an easy and enjoyable way to help your child increase reading-related skills, such as vocabulary, categorizing, letter-sound relationships and problem-solving. It’s fun and useful to play board games or make up your own word games.
  • Help your child fix her own reading errors. Children learn best when they can fix their errors by themselves. If your child is stuck, ask questions such as, “Did that make sense?” or “Do you see a little word you know inside that big word?” to help her correct her own mistakes.
  • Talk together about books you read. Talk with your first-grader about the books you read aloud to help her improve her comprehension. When you ask your child to describe her favorite part or to make a prediction, you are helping her to make sense of stories.
  • Help your child write a bit each day. First graders learn to write best when they write everyday about things that interest them. When you help your child write important dates on his calendar or encourage him to write in his diary, you are giving him the practice he needs.
  • Talk to your child’s teacher often. Talk with your first grader’s teacher about her progress often, and find out how reading and writing are taught in your child’s class. When you and your child’s class. When you and your child’s teacher work together, you can help your child learn to read and write.

Next: Learn about your first grader’s listening abilities.

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