Seattle Public Schools

Family Learning Guide

1st Grade

A Family Guide to 1st Grade

In every grade, SPS’ core work is supporting student learning. We believe it is our responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure that every child, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, language proficiency, learning style or disability, achieves to their highest level. 

First grade is a new adventure for your child!

They are starting to understand how school works. Still, first graders are working on the basic elements of learning, and because children develop in different ways at different rates, they may seem like they are shooting ahead one day and falling behind the next. Or learning may come easily in one area but seem much more difficult in another.

Families and teachers play important roles in helping young children understand that learning comes with practice, and that when things are hard, there is opportunity to grow! When your child recognizes sight words or finally reads a whole book by themselves, they feel powerful.

You can help them find their “Super Reader” and “Super Mathematician” powers by recognizing small daily achievements, as well as bigger accomplishments.

Your child’s teachers can help you turn “I can’t” into “I can” by finding “just right” materials that challenge them step by step. As first graders develop thinking and planning skills to answer their own questions and make decisions, they are also developing social skills to build relationships. You can support their learning by letting them “teach” you about their school experiences.

Important Dates


  • 1st day of school


  • Parent-Teacher Conferences


  • End of 1st Trimester; 1st Progress Report Available


  • End of 2nd Trimester; 2nd Progress Report Available


  • End of 3rd Trimester; 3rd Progress Report Available

View the full school year calendar

Student Progress Reports

The report cards are a tool for conversations about student developing social-emotional skills and learning readiness.

Teachers can help you understand how those skills affect your child’s time in the classroom and their progress in language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education and arts. Talk together to nurture confident 1st grade learners!

How to Access Progress Reports

Families will use The Source to view Student Progress Reports.

Parent and guardians can create an account with the email on record at their student’s school.

Student Success by Subject

Social Emotional Learning

Three students stand together with a school mascot Orca

At Seattle Public Schools we believe that social emotional learning prepares students for learning and life.

Social emotional learning (SEL) helps children:
• Manage emotions, show empathy
• Develop a healthy identity
• Make responsible decisions
• Have positive relationships
• Contribute to their community

These skills are important for learning and life.
At school, students learn and practice SEL skills throughout the day.

More about social emotional learning at SPS.

At home, remember:

  • Saying how you feel makes it easier to make choices. Children and adults can talk about their thoughts, how their body feels, and their emotions every day so it’s easier during times of stress.
  • Setting and celebrating goals makes it more fun to get things done. Learn from mistakes and pay attention to what works so you can do more of it!
  • Solving problems with kindness gives us a chance to understand each other and practice being “our best selves”

Reading and Writing

In English language arts (ELA), 1st grade students learn to:

  • Read and understand grade-level text and figure out meaning of unknown words when reading 
  • Retell what is read, using key details from the text 
  • Ask questions about their reading 
  • Describe characters, settings, and events in stories 
  • Start to determine and identify topics and big ideas in a text 
  • Write and draw and add details to communicate for different purposes 
  • Take part in collaborative conversations about their learning and what they have read 

Read more about language arts at SPS.

  • Create a reading space that is comfortable and free from distraction 
  • Ask your child to tell you about their reading (questions they have, a favorite character, what they learned) 
  • Encourage your child to create stories with writing and/or drawings 
  • Go to the library and find books that your child would like to read 

Remember, when your child is learning to read, listening to them and reading together are important ways to show that you value their learning ! 

How Can Families Help Students in ELA

Encourage reading at home with your child. Read to them or listen to them read every day.


In 1st grade math, students will build on their kindergarten experiences counting to 100 and working with numbers within 20 to: 

A young student sits at a computer with headphones
  • Use objects, draw pictures or use symbols to solve real world problems within 20
  • Understand the relationship between addition and subtraction and use it flexibly to solve problems within 20 
  • Learn addition and subtraction facts within 10 
  • Understand and use the equal sign 
  • Read, write and count within 120 
  • Understand place value (tens and ones) of 2-digit numbers 
  • Compare 2-digit numbers using symbols <, >, = 
  • Use place value understanding (with objects, pictures and numbers) to solve problems within 100 
  • Measure length using length units (such as inches) 

We believe all students have mathematical brilliance. Your child’s teacher seeks to cultivate brilliance to develop your child into a mathematical thinker and problem solver. Your child will see who sees the value of math in their life.

More about elementary math at SPS.


What are 1st graders learning in science?

This is a time for transition in science education, with teaching and learning focused on three key areas in Washington state Science Learning Standards:

  1. Science/engineering practices used by professionals to explain the world or solve problems.
  2. Core ideas that include fundamental scientific knowledge.
  3. Crosscutting concepts frame scientific thinking across life, earth/space, physical sciences.

Your child’s report card shows performance expectations, for what students should be able to do by the end of a unit. The three dimensions are woven into each performance expectation.

More about elementary science at SPS.

  • Ask open-ended questions and take time to encourage thoughtful answers: “Tell me about what you made.” “What do you think caused the change?” “Can you think of a different way to do it?”
  • Observe carefully and notice small details about natural and physical things like shapes in a spider web or types of bread.
  • Make predictions and test how things work “How long will an ice cube last on the counter?” “Will it melt faster on another surface?”
  • Encourage investigation. Try taking things apart to see how they work – from flowers to old appliances. Don’t worry about putting them back together!
  • Let your child teach you by explaining or modeling through drawing, writing, or conversation.
  • Challenge your student to argue from evidence. This is not fighting but using facts to explain their thinking. Ask: “How do you know that?” “Why is that so?”

Download Grades K-2 Parent Guide (English)

Preparar a los estudiantes para que tengan éxito (Spanish)

Engage in Science at Home

Get outside together, taking time to notice, appreciate, and wonder about the natural world.

Social Studies

What’s Important About 1st Grade Social Studies?

The report card shows four areas of social studies that you and your child can discuss.

  • Civics – Understanding the purpose of rules in the classroom and school community 
  • Economics – Understanding that families make choices to meet needs and wants 
  • Geography – Using maps and globes and Understanding how environment shapes how families live 
  • History – Creating timelines to show events in a sequence, or order 

More about social studies at SPS.

Physical Education

In physical education (PE), students build movement skills, knowledge, fitness, social well being, and confidence so they can enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Seattle Public Schools is committed to providing a quality physical education program to help students develop in these areas. 

Our PE standards are based on motor and movement patterns and skills, as well as concepts like physical literacy, which is the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life. PE is an instructional program, which makes it different from recess, free play, recreational sports, or athletics.

PE teachers work with general education teachers to provide high quality instruction for an average of 100 minutes per week, which is required by Washington state law. Schools organize PE times in different ways, but all students should be learning about their physical selves all year long! 

More about physical education at SPS.

Visual and Performing Arts

Research shows that students with an arts education are more engaged, do better in school, and are more likely to graduate and participate in community life. In Seattle Public Schools, we want every student to receive a comprehensive, predictable arts education during their K-12 years.

Each elementary school offers different arts programs, from possibilities including visual arts, general music, theatre, dance, or instrumental music.

Progress report standards come from the Washington state Arts Learning Standards, which focus on aspects of artistic process:

  • Creating: developing new artistic ideas and work.
  • Performing: interpreting and presenting artistic ideas / work
  • Responding: understanding and evaluating meaning in the arts
  • Connecting: Relating personally to artistic ideas and work

The arts are a core subject!

More about arts education at SPS.

  • Ask your children what they created today. 
  • Have your child describe what their art is about. 
  • Art is an area children experiment and make mistakes. 
  • Ask them to tell you about a “beautiful oops.” 
  • Make art together! 
Support the arts at home!

Make art together!