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First Grader
Help Your First Grader Learn to Read”

This checklist is adapted from
A Child Becomes a Reader-Birth Through Pre-School

Reading involves learning and putting together the many “sub-skills” involved to make meaning and to get information from print.
Use the following checklists to make sure your child has learned and can put together the “pieces” of the reading puzzle.

Give your child the gift of reading.
Learn About:


  • My child can identify and name all the letters of the alphabet.
  • My child can match upper case letters with lower case partners.
  • My child hears and can voice the sound of each letter.
  • My child knows the difference between letters and words.
  • My child can put letters together to make simple words.
  • My child can break words apart and put them back together.

What to do:

Use magnetic letters and a smooth metal surface, refrigerator, cookie sheet, side of a metal file cabinet, etc.
Use letter tiles.
Play letter- finding games.
Sort letters into groups - round letters, short letters, tall letters, etc.
Make the names of family members (including your child)
Make simple words.
Change letters in words to make new words (ex. cat, hat, bat, etc.)
Practice printing letters with correct formation and sizing.

  • My child is curious about words.
  • My child knows words are made up of letters arranged in a specific order.
  • My child knows that written words represent speech and can show how words are represented by letters arranged in a specific order.
  • My child knows that there are spaces between words.
  • My child knows that written words represent speech.
  • My child is able to hear and identify patterns in words that rhyme, like the “ell” in bell, tell, sell, w
  • My child is able to hear and identify words with the same beginning sounds, like the “m” in moon, monkey, map, etc
  • My child can hear and identify words with the same ending sounds, like the “t” in cat, boat, hit, fort, etc
  • My child can hear and identify the middle sound in a one syllable word, like cat, bed, top, hit, cup, etc.
  • My child can put together and break apart the sounds in one syllable words, like /d//a//d/, dad
  • My child uses new words when he speaks and writes.
  • My child uses sounds she knows to attempt to spell words.
  • My child knows there is a correct way to spell words.
  • My child can sound words out he doesnít know.
  • My child recognizes some irregularly spelled words, like have,  said, you, are, etc.
  • My child is beginning to see that some words mean the same thing (synonyms) and some mean the opposite (antonyms).
  • My child knows that words work together to make sentences.

What to do:
Write letters and words together ñ labels, names, signs, short notes, etc.
Play word games like hangman, Boggle, Jr., Scrabble for Juniors, etc..
Encourage your child to read signs, labels, food containers, etc.
Use junk mail, newspapers and magazines to go on “word scavenger hunts”
        Ex:  How many 3-letter words can you find?
                Can you find a word that begins with each letter in your first name?
                Can you find all the words on this list?
                Can you find 10 words that begin with the letter “b”?       
Help your child label objects in her room.
Make books together.
Supply your child with wordbooks and First Dictionaries.
Make and label informal scrapbooks.  Sort words into categories, like rhyming words, same beginning letter, names of animals, color words, etc.

  • My child uses language with more control and speaks in complete sentences.
  • My child notices when language doesnít “sound right”.
  • My child notices when language doesnít “make sense”.
  • My child uses picture clues as a decoding strategy and to enrich comprehension.
  • My child recognizes the Title of the book.
  • My child is able to use the title and the pictures to make a “smart guess” or predict what the book is about.
  • My child holds a book upright and follows the direction of the printed text.
  • My child knows some punctuation marks and where sentences and paragraphs begin and end.
  • My child reads and understands simple written instructions.
  • My child reads first grade books aloud and can tell when she does not understand what she is reading.
  • My child asks questions about books he is reading.
  • My child can retell and talk about a story he has read.
  • My child can describe and express opinions about the  characters and their actions.
  • My child can describe what she has learned from an informational book.
  • My child enjoys reading and has some favorite books, stories and characters.
  • My child asks for stories and poems to be read to him/her.

What to do:
        Read to and with your child every day and every chance you get, even if it is the newspaper, a magazine, etc.
        Set a good example.  Put a book in your hands.
        Let your children know that you read for enjoyment as well as for information.
Encourage reading for the fun of it and as a free-time activity.
Read great stories with lots of expression and joy.
        Read poetry and songbooks, repeat the chorus and rhymes.
        Set aside “family reading time” once a week.
        Take your child to the library and both of you sign up for a library card.
        Write notes to you child.
        Listen to your child read.  Pay attention.
        Encourage and praise your childís efforts.
        Help your child problem-solve those tricky words.
  • Tell him to skip over the word and read on, - then ask “What word would make sense here?”
  • Help her to use what she knows about letters.
  • Remind your child to look at the picture clues on the page.
  • If these strategies do not help, - tell your child the word, then go back and re-read the corrected sentence.
        Encourage your child to re-read easy and familiar books and poems to build fluency (and confidence).
        Engage your child in “story talk”,  
                Describe the characters ad their roles in the story.
                Is the setting familiar or unfamiliar to your child?
                Where, when and how does the story begin?
                Was there a problem?  Was it solved? How?
        Invite your child to imagine and role play ñ become part of the story.
        Help you child to compare and make connections…
                to other books
                to other characters
                to themselves and their own life experiences
        Make books with your child about themselves, your family, your home, your neighborhood, a favorite sport or hobby, a special place, etc.