Key Skills Preschoolers Need for Grade 1

Kindergarten gives your child the much-required foundation upon which all future learning depends. Learning for kindergartners is focused more on developmental goals rather than only teaching kids to read and write. It prepares your child to take on first grade as they enter the world of regular school. The transition from kindergarten to first grade can be a big step for both your child and you, equally. Your child will have longer school days, be surrounded by more students, eat at school, etc. In a nutshell, it can bring about a whole lot of changes to your child’s life.

Children are equipped with appropriate pre-literacy, pre-numeracy, cognitive skills, and social skills throughout preschool. These are important skills preschoolers need for grade 1 and to perform well in a school environment. 

Here are some skills preschoolers need for grade 1 as they begin to unpack the world around them.  

Socio-emotional Skills: every child is a bundle of different emotions and tonnes of energy. They need continuous support and guidance to navigate their feelings and respond to social situations. Some socio-emotional skills preschoolers need for grade 1 are: the child

  • shows respect, interacts, shares, and communicates properly with other students. Participates in group activities Interacts comfortably with familiar adults;
  • can regulate one’s own emotions and behaviour;
  • follows basic rules and routines at home and preschool;
  • shows curiosity, eagerness, and willingness to learn;
  • likes to sing, dance, and act;
  • uses materials and resources properly with purpose and respect;
  • creates a positive personal identity- demonstrates more independence, self-confidence and a sense of self-worth;
  • may comfortably adapt to changes. Can sometimes be demanding and cooperative.

Physical Skills: through their early years, kids begin to understand, learn to manage, and control their bodies. Physical skills, comprising gross and fine motor development, include: 

  • muscle control, body awareness, balance, and coordination;
  • more skilled at running, catching, jumping, throwing, and kicking. Can walk on tiptoes, hop on one foot, and skip using a jump rope;
  • steady grip when holding items. Can grasp writing/ drawing tools (pencils, crayons) comfortably;
  • develops a basic sense of self-care and hygiene. With supervision, the child can carry out grooming activities and use the toilet by themselves.

Cognitive Skills: cognitive skills in children refers to skills pertaining to learning and thinking. Here the focus is not on the child’s ability to retain facts and information. The child- 

  • pays attention to a task for a longer period of time (15-20 minutes);
  • aware of his/ her name, names of immediate family and friends, basic details of the school they attend;
  • solves problems on their own or with the support of an adult;
  • recognizes basic colours and shapes;
  • can visually distinguish (match, compare, sort, and organize) objects, patterns, shapes, colours, etc;
  • starts to understand time. May recognize the days of the week and months of the year.
  • seeks adult support when needed;
  • develops basic reasoning skills;

Literacy Skills: the literacy skills preschoolers need for grade 1 include 1st grade reading and writing skills as these are closely connected.

Kids Learning Reading and Comprehension Skills: the child- 

    • recognizes letters of the English alphabet, both the upper and lower case letters;
    • has a fair understanding of basic phonics concepts, which include phonic sounds, CVC words, sight words for first graders, digraphs, trigraphs, and blends
    • can recognize written words through the use of sounds and patterns of letters, rhymes and rhyming patterns; 
    • reads three-letter words and simple sentences;
    • recognizes and sorts common words (eg: food, colours, shapes, etc) into categories;
    • shows general interest in reading-related activities;
    • listens to stories read aloud with interest;
    • can identify and understand the basic plot and characters of stories. In some cases, they may also be able to relate to some of the characters or situations from the stories.


Writing Skills: the child-

    • can handle writing and drawing tools (pencils & crayons) with better grip;
    • can write both upper and lower case letters of the English alphabet. They can write their name;
    • can write simple words and sentences. They may be able to complete sentences; 
    • uses letters or shapes to depict words, objects, stories, or ideas.


Effective Communication Skills (Listening and Speaking Skills): the child-

  • can understand and follow simple instructions and directions;
  • can count/ recite number up to 10, correctly and consistently;
    • identifies the beginning and end sounds of words;
  • recognizes and knows the name for most of the common objects;
  • can understand basic English words, simple sentences, greetings, different expressions, and respond in English or mother tongue;
    • understands basic opposites (eg: yes-no, big-small, up-down, etc);
  • can listen attentively to others for short periods of time without interrupting and also make eye contact;
  • recites nursery rhymes, poem songs, stories, and finger plays with comprehension;
  • can retell stories and answer simple questions related to the stories;
  • can use pictures and text to make predictions about a story;
  • can clearly articulate needs and thoughts using complete sentences. Asks questions;
  • participates in conversations. Shares likes, dislikes, and talks about personal experiences with a reasonable amount of details. The child may be more descriptive during conversations.

Numeracy Skills: It involves understanding numbers, solving number problems, counting, measuring, adding, subtracting, recognizing patterns, etc. Math for kindergartners focus on the following numeracy skills preschoolers need for grade 1: 


  • number sense- children will recognize numbers and what they stand for. For instance: they will be able to connect the number ‘3’ with a picture of three apples;
  • counts to 10 correctly and consistently, name/ write numerals 0-30, and number names 0-10;
  • understands first grade addition and subtraction. Use objects or pictures to show their understanding of these concepts. Can add and subtract using numbers 1-10;
  • basic understanding of mathematical concepts like ascending and descending order, use of greater-less than and equal to sign, fractions, counting simple money, etc;
  • recognizes and identifies basic shapes and patterns.

The skills shared above are just guidelines. Each child develops at their own pace and the exact age varies. Remember, school readiness is much more than your child knowing their A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s.

In addition to the skills developed at preschool, it is also important for you, the parent, to practice and engage your child with these skills through different kids learning activities at home. Similar to kindergarten readiness activities, here are some school readiness activities for preschoolers that you can try out at home:

  • create opportunities for your child to interact with other kids of similar age;
  • spend time every day interacting and playing with your child;
  • through daily activities, encourage your child to follow simple instructions;
  • practice reading for grade 1 every day. When reading English for kids, encourage your child to point to/ name different things/ words they read. It helps to expand their vocabulary;
  • practice basic phonics concepts regularly;
  • practice letter sounds through games, rhymes, songs, stories, and sight words for kids;
  • practice first grade addition and subtraction; 
  • talk to your child about the day, different shapes and colours, concepts like opposites, encourage them to count, etc;
  • encourage them to draw and colour to improve their fine motor skills;
  • talk to your child about feelings and emotions. Help verbalize the different emotions they may witness in people;
  • build body strength and endurance through play and other physical activities;

Your child sets foot into 1st grade as they are slowly developing their personality. Along with their growing independence, they are filled with curiosity about the world around them. As they soak the sights and sounds around them, it is important, as parents, for you to encourage them to explore further and expand their creativity. In that process, be prepared to be delighted and blown away by your child’s growth daily.