How to Bridge the Gap From Kindergarten to First Grade

By the end of the year, kindergarten students should be able to sound out three-letter words independently.
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Your child has worked on many new skills during the kindergarten year. Many of these must be mastered before he goes to first grade to ensure that the transition will be successful. If your child has struggled in some areas during kindergarten, you can help bridge the gap by reviewing specific skills and reinforcing classroom instruction through the summer.

1 Reading Comprehension

Read to your child daily. Ask questions before, during and after reading. Demonstrate how to make predictions based on the pictures on the front cover. Stop after reading a few pages to let your child comment on the story or ask questions about something he doesn't understand. After reading, ask questions that test basic comprehension such as naming the characters and identifying the setting and plot. Then ask more complex questions: "Why do you think the boy lied to his mother in the story?" or "Does this story remind you of something that happened to you or make you think of another book almost like this one?" Your child will be exposed to more complex books in first grade, so it is important for him to keep practicing comprehension skills.

Vocabulary Builder

2 Phonics

Your child learned the names of letters and their sounds in kindergarten. He also learned how to blend these sounds to make simple words. In first grade, the words will be longer and will consist of long vowel sounds and blends. Help your child read stories that contain these words and listen as he sounds out the words. When he encounters a new sound, teach it to him, then tell him other words that have this sound but are spelled differently. For example, if he sees the word "loud," tell him "ou" says "ow" as in cow even though "cow" is spelled with an "ow."

3 Math

When your child enters first grade, the teacher will expect him to be able to count aloud and write to 100. She will begin math instruction reviewing basic skills including counting, number recognition, and simple addition and subtraction. Kindergarten teachers cover all these skills, but your child may not have mastered all of them. This is especially true of adding and subtracting because they are second-semester objectives. Practice both of these as much as possible in a variety of ways. Write addition and subtraction problems on paper and give your child objects such as toothpicks or pennies to solve them. Reinforce his mental math ability by dictating a word problem such as, "Your brother has 20 toy cars, but he lost 10. How many does he have now?"

4 Writing

Your child's writing ability has progressed from scribbling to writing letters, numbers and simple sentences by the end of the year. Kindergarten teachers stress capitalizing the first word of the sentence and writing a period or question mark at the end of it. More punctuation will be taught in first grade, along with writing simple paragraphs composed of three to five sentences. You can help your child by having him copy sentences that you write and then asking him to think of his own sentences on a topic. Help him correct spelling errors but focus on neatness, spacing and completeness.

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.