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Speech and Language Milestones - Kindergarten & First Grade

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Starting kindergarten and first grade is a very exciting time for your child and the whole family!  Entering primary school is a big deal and you may be wondering, "is my child ready?"  The following information can be used as a general guideline for the speech and language skills that are important for your child to have before starting kindergarten and first grade.

(Please note that this list may not apply to bilingual children, particularly those who are just starting to learn English.  For more information, please click here.)

Before ENTERING KINDERGARTEN, children are expected to have the following skills and abilities:

Listening

  • Follow simple one- and two-step directions.
  • Listen to others when they are talking.
  • Recognize rhyming words.

Speaking

  • Talk to adults and ask for help.
  • Use words to talk about their thoughts and express their needs, wants and feelings.
  • Use sentences of more than five words and speak clearly enough so others can understand.

Reading

  • Begin to recognize familiar words such as "stop" on stop signs.
  • Engage and interact with books.  Children may pretend to read books to themselves or their toy dolls by making up words or using actual phrases from the book.  They should also be able to make reasonable predictions about what will happen in a story.

Writing

  • Write his/her own first name.

By the end of kindergarten, before ENTERING FIRST GRADE, chidren should have the following skills and abilities:

Listening

  • Follow one- to two-step directions in a sequence.
  • Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud.
  • Follow a simple conversation.

Speaking

  • Answer simple "yes/no" questions and open-ended questions such as, "What did you have for lunch today?"
  • Retell a story or talk about an event.
  • Recognize and provide rhyming words (e.g., cat and hat).
  • Describe people, places, actions and things (e.g., color, shape, size).

Reading

  • Know how a book works (e.g., books in English are read from left to right and top to bottom).
  • Understand that letters represent speech sounds and be able to match sounds to letters.
  • Recognize and name uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Recognize some words by sight.
  • Imitate reading by talking about pictures in a book or "read" picture books by memory.
  • Identify characters, settings, and important events in stories.

Writing

  • Print own first and last name
  • Write both uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
  • Draw a picture that tells a story and label what is happening in the picture
  • Use letters and words spelled out how they sound (i.e., not necessarily spelled correctly) to write about experiences, stories, people, or objects.

 

Please click here for tips to help your kindergartner develop reading and writing skills.

By the END OF FIRST GRADE, your child should have the following skills and abilities:

Listening

  • Follow two- to three-step directions in a sequence and be able to restate the directions.
  • Listen attentively and remember information.
  • Ask questions when they do not understanding.

Speaking

  • Tell and retell stories and events (real or make-believe) in a logical order.
  • Ask and respond to "wh" questions (who, what, where, when, why).
  • Start and maintain conversations, taking turns speaking with the conversation partner.
  • Speak in complete, coherent sentences.

Reading

  • Identify all sounds in short words and be able to sound out words when reading.
  • Identify what letters, words, and sentences are.
  • Read aloud with fluency in a manner that sounds like natural speech.
  • Identify and describe the plot, setting, and character(s) in a story as well as the story's beginning, middle and ending.
  • Remember and be able to talk about books read during the school year.

Writing

  • Use punctuation such as begining sentences with capital letters and using ending punctuation like periods, question marks, or exclamation points.
  • Write brief stories (real or imaginary) describing an experience.
  • Write in complete, coherent sentences using legible handwriting.

Red Flags (for Kindergarten & First Grade)

If your child is unable to do many of the skills listed on this page and you are not sure if you should be concerned, please click here.

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