The milestones you want to see in your gorgeous Grade 1 child

The milestones you want to see in your gorgeous Grade 1 child


Part 1: Speaking, Reading and Writing

Each year we see fledgling school careers begin to take flight nationwide with the first day of school for the Grade 1’s. These littlies are usually very excited even though many shed a few tears. Their moms and dads often have a little cry too.

The age and admission for Grade 1 in South Africa is five, turning six by the 30th June of the admission year. For many children this is the first year of “big school”. Grade R is the last year of pre-school, after all.

Grade 1 learners keep on with the direction that Grade R has set in place. It is the second year of the crucial foundation phase. The following are some of the milestones of this important first year of “big school.” These are some benchmarks for progress during and by the end of Grade 1.

Speaking and Listening

In Grade 1 the little students are going to develop in their speaking. They will be able to talk about their feelings and personal experiences in their home language. The students will also be able to give their feelings about a story they have listened to. They will be able to enjoy jokes, word puzzles and riddles.

Grade 1’s will listen to instructions and announcements. They will make suitable responses. They will also learn to listen and not make interruptions. They will take turns to speak and ask questions if they are not sure about something.

Grade 1’s will learn to tell stories they know. The stories will start to take shape. There will be a beginning, middle and end. The children will also be able to role-play. They will be able to act out different characters in different situations.

First grade is the year when a child can start being part of classroom chats. They will also be able to answer questions asked by the teacher.

By the end of this first year, learners will understand parts of writing. They will know what a sentence is. They will also be able to tell what full stops and capital letters are.


Phonics is the main method employed to teach reading skills. It teaches Grade 1’s to read by linking the sounds of speaking with letters. The letters represent the sounds we make when talking.

Grade 1’s are taught to build words up out of the sounds they learn throughout the year. Single letters and their sounds will all be known by the end of the year. Using blends of consonants, simple words can be broken down and reconstructed.

Grade 1’s will be able to recognise letter combination sounds. Examples would be “ch” and “sh” sounds. They will also be able to make sound families of common words.

Grade 1’s are also taught to identify plurals and word endings.

Viewing and Reading

The milestones you want to see in your gorgeous Grade 1 childGrade 1’s will learn their classmates’ printed names. Logos and labels in their environment will be read.

The children will learn to hold books properly. Pages, words and letters as ideas will be internalised. They will know to begin at the front of book and work to the end.

Grade 1’s will also be able to predict the content of a book based on the cover. Pictures will be interpreted to make a story.

They will be able to tell who the main characters are. They will be able to tell what the story is about and what happens in the story. They will learn to give their opinions on the story. Grade 1’s can see the cause and effects that drive the story.

First grade students can answer open-ended questions about what they have been reading. They can also interpret information from simple tables, pictures and posters.

As the year progresses, fluency and expression will increase. Punctuation will be understood when reading aloud. They will use sight words, structural and context clues and phonics when reading. They will learn to read from their own books out loud. This will be in a guided reading group led by the teacher.

They will also be able to read their own writing. Grade 1’s will also begin to correct errors they notice. Independent reading will also become more usual for these students.  Comprehension will increase, as will self-monitoring.


The milestones for Grade 1 childGrade 1’s become better and better at using pencils and crayons. They are able to write from left to write on a page, and progress from top to bottom. By drawing patterns and tracing, their hand-eye co-ordination continues to increase. First grade teaches the students to hold their crayons and pencils correctly.

Grade 1’s will be able to copy short words and sentences. This is over and above writing their own names. First graders learn to print letters. They will know how to write small and capital letters. They will also be able to write numbers correctly. All this is done with correct spacing.


At the beginning of grade 1, learners will be able to draw pictures to tell a story. This will be from personal experience, though simple made-up stories will follow soon. They learn quickly to participate in shared writing. This is where they can contribute ideas for class and group stories. They can also revise stories, by answering questions about how they think a story should have ended. Or if they think a character should have done something different to what they actually did in the story.

They will be able to copy sentences from charts or the board correctly. This progresses to being able to write short messages of their own. An example would be writing a birthday or get-well card. Grade 1’s learn to illustrate captions and short sentences on a given topic.

Grade 1’s develop the ability to write at least three of their own sentences. This will be either a creative story or news from their week. They will be using capital letters and full stops correctly.

These sentences will comprise sight words and phonic sounds already taught. Grade ones begin to display the correct usage of present and past tense. With assistance they accurately use pronouns and prepositions. They learn plurals of words they are familiar with. Their spelling of common words will be accurate too.

Grade 1’s can organise simple charts or timelines. This is the beginning of an ability to organise information, which will be used throughout their lives. They also build their own personal word bank as the year progresses. This can be thought of as a personal internalised dictionary.

The importance of Grade 1

By the end of Grade 1, students should be prepared for learning that is more independent. They will be getting support, but Grade 1 should prepare the children to learn at a Grade 2 level.

The foundation stage’s importance cannot be overstated. Without an established foundation students will not reach their academic potential. This will have a negative effect on career options into their future.

Japari has an incredible team of teachers for the foundation phase

Japari has an excellent Grade 1 program. We have small classes and attentive, caring and qualified teachers. Our grade ones get the personal attention they need to ensure a solid foundation in reading, writing and maths. They get the emotional support they need to become the best students they can be. We also have a reading program that produces lifelong reader with a love for the written word.

We also have the experience and facilities to help with any difficulties these little students might face. All of this sets up our first graders for schooling success.

Bibliography/Further reading:,in%20the%20year%20of%20admission.