A List of Math Skills for 1st Graders

Addition is often taught and mastered in the first grade.
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Although very basic counting skills are taught in kindergarten, the foundation for elementary math begins in the first grade. In order to best support your child or student, it is important to be aware of both the math skills first-graders should have upon arriving in elementary school, as well as the skills they should acquire during their first-grade year. Practice and reinforcement is important as early lessons on addition and subtraction will be revisited throughout a student's education career.

1 Math Skills Required Prior to the 1st Grade

Perhaps the most important skill that students need to acquire before the first grade is counting. An understanding of numbers will be expected as first grade teachers move to teach addition and subtraction. The use of number lines, number books and number games are great ways to reinforce the learning of counting that is often taught in preschool and kindergarten. In addition to counting, students should come to first grade with an understanding of patterns and shapes, so that they can be prepared to learn measurement and comparison in a first-grade mathematics class. Students should be able to add and subtract with fluency by the end of the first grade.

2 Number Quantities, Addition and Subtraction

In the first grade, students should understand quantity. For example, if a student sees three books on a table, he or she should recognize that three books is greater than two books. Once students understand quantity, they can move on to apply the skills of addition and subtraction to number quantity. After learning addition and subtraction within 20, teachers should focus on the relationship between addition and subtraction and the commutative and associative properties of addition.

3 Number Sequence and Place Value

Once addition and subtraction is taught, students should move to learn number sequence up to 120, so that they can add and subtract within 100. Teach place value by explaining tens and ones, so that students understand the difference between 1-10 and 10,20,30,40, etc. Number lines and bar graphs are especially helpful in introducing place value and base ten. Teaching money value will also help students understand the number sequence up to 100.

4 Measurement, Time and Geometry

Students will learn measurement by comparing and distinguishing the lengths and sizes of objects by using numbers. Related to measurement, first-graders will be introduced to geometry. They will be exposed to a variety of different shapes and should be able to distinguish circles, triangles, squares and rectangles. Teachers will ask first-graders to draw these shapes and will introduce them to sections of different two-dimensional shapes. Finally, first-graders will learn how to tell time using hours and minutes.

Kelly Chester is an educator and writer who has worked in both public and private schools for almost a decade. Her areas of expertise include literature, writing, history and art for adolescents. In addition to writing reports for NYSAIS, she has also written a biography on artist Frank Covino, which was published in the anthology “Teaching Lives.”