Select Page

The first grade school year is coming to an end, and as a parent your thoughts are probably turning towards second grade. Is your child ready for second grade reading? How can you be sure? On today’s post, I am going to discuss some really important first grade reading benchmarks that will help you determine if your child is on the right path to second grade reading, and give you some activities to do if they are not.


First grade is a very big reading year.  Students will begin the year sounding out basic consonant-vowel-consonant three letter words such as cat, sit, bog, etc. and progress to complex sentences, multisyllabic words and word patterns.   

By the end of first grade, your child should be comfortable reading simple first grade books with fluency and comprehension. For a list of simple first grade books >CLICK HERE<

By the end of first grade, your child should have these first grade reading benchmarks accomplished:

  • Identify and sound out all beginning consonants, short and long vowels
  • Read and spell words with digraphs such as th, sh, ch, wh
  • Apply simple spelling rules such as Floss Rule (ss,ll,ff, zz)
  • Read and spell words with initial and final blends (shrimp, mask, belt, etc.)
  • Use welded sounds in both reading and spelling (ang, ing, ong, ung, ank, ink, onk, unk)
  • Decode simple multisyllabic words (pancake, muffin, kitten, etc.)
  • Have strategies to decode multisyllabic and unfamiliar words
  • Identify nouns, verbs and adjectives
  • Identify plurals, contractions and compound words

Reading Stories and Poems

In addition to developing phonics and decoding strategies, your child should be able to comprehend and understand the language of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

By the end of first grade, your child should have these first grade reading benchmarks accomplished:

  • Demonstrate reading comprehension skills in a story or poem by asking and answering questions about it using the who, what, where, when, why and how prompts
  • Understand the difference between fiction, nonfiction and poetry
  • Identify the main parts of a story (e.g., main idea, setting, characters)
  • Read fluently and with expression
  • Discuss what they have read
  • Understand how an author paints a picture with words
  • Be able to summarize a story or text using sequencing

 Sight Words

By the end of first grade, a child typically has learned around 150 sight words or high frequency words. Sight words and high frequency words are those words that are very common in text and stories. Sight words are everywhere, they give direction and meaning to almost every sentence. By memorizing these common words, your child will read stories and text with more fluency and comprehension.

Here are some strategies that I like to use when teaching sight words and that will help you reach those first grade reading benchmarks:

Drilling with Flash Cards

When using flash cards to drill those sight words, be careful to introduce only one new word at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm your child with too many words at once. Spread it out over time. You can write all of the Dolch Sight Words or Fry Sight Words on index cards and teach a new word each day while reviewing already learned words over and over again.  This repetition is the key to learning those words.

Multisensory Activities

When you help your child learn the sight words, make it fun, memorable and interactive by using a lot of multisensory activities. Studies from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development have shown that for children with difficulties learning, a multisensory teaching method is the most effective way for kids to learn. Multisensory teaching means the teacher taps into all learning modalities – see it (visual), feel it (tactile), hear and say it (auditory), and move with it (kinesthetic).  

For some fun multisensory activities that you can use with any first grade phonics skill you are working on, check out my posts:

Fly Swatter Phonics Game

BINGO (with free download)

Multisensory Reading Activity: Beach Ball Toss

My Favorite Sight Word Activities

Do you have concerns?

Not all children will develop and learn at the same pace and in the same way. Your child might be more advanced or need more help than others in his or her peer group. You the parent, are the best judge of your child’s abilities and needs. The above first grade reading benchmarks that I write about, are just guidelines. They are not rules.


If you do have concerns about your child’s reading development and are interested in my Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and spelling program, check out:

>The PRIDE Reading Program<



Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at or visit the website at

Don't go without signing up for the Weekly Roar! Get the latest posts and helpful information from the PRIDE Reading Program.

Join our list to receive the latest news and updates with The Weekly Roar.

Thanks for signing up for the Weekly Roar. If you would like to learn more about the PRIDE Reading Program, please continue to explore our site, or feel free to contact us at any time.