Writing is one of the major skills first graders will tackle. It's a complex task of formulating ideas, decoding words into written form and having the fine motor skills to get it down on paper. The amount of growth in writing over the first grade year is tremendous. For students coming into first grade, a few baseline skills are essential for writing to take off.

Phonics Skills

First graders should begin the year knowing letters and letter sounds. Students should know how sounds go together to make words and be able to segment words into individual sounds. Students need to understand that writing involves listening for the sounds in words and writing them down. Ideally they'll be able to hear first, middle and ending sounds. They should be able to do this with some level of independence.

Purposes for Writing

Writing is about getting ideas across to the reader. Students arriving in first grade should understand people write for different reasons. They should be able to formulate ideas and decide how to express them on paper. According to the national common core standards, by the end of kindergarten students should be able to write an opinion piece about a favorite book, an information piece and a narrative that gives details about something that happened. In completing these writing pieces, students should use a combination of drawing, dictating and writing. This basis will be built on throughout first grade.

Language Conventions

Students should come to first grade with basic knowledge of language conventions. They should differentiate between capital and lowercase letters and know that capital letters are used at the beginning of sentences and names. Students should know that spaces separate words and should begin to put spaces between words as they write. They should also be able to recognize punctuation, and know what punctuation goes at the end of a sentence.

Improving Writing

Writing is meant to be shared. Students should understand that good writers improve their writing. Students should be able to take suggestions from readers of their writing to make improvements. Improvements can be made to make the writing more readable by listening more closely for sounds in words or adding spaces between words. The writer can also add details or change the sequence of ideas to make the writing more interesting. Students should recognize that writing more than one draft of the same writing piece will improve their work.

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