How you can help your child achieve in Grade 1

Ensure that your child knows what to expect

Everybody needs to know what to expect when starting something new. Talk to your child and find out what he expects and what he is worried about. Answer his questions and explain that school is a place where he’ll meet new people, get to make lots of friends and learn to read, write and calculate.

Tell him that you will help him with his reading and writing in Grade 1 and that you will help him learn many new words. Explain that he should listen carefully in class and do the work he is given to the best of his ability. Suggest that learning is exciting and fun.

Explain that the two most important things he must do is to learn how to read and how to do sums, and that these skills are very important because they open doors to the world of learning.

Parents also need to be prepared

In order to assist your child, check pages 3 and 4 to see what he will need to learn in Language and Mathematics by the end of Grade 1.

Snapshot of the Language syllabus

What your child must know and be able to do by the end of Grade 1

Listening and speaking: In Grade 1, your child will learn to listen carefully and to ask questions. She will also sound the alphabet and learn how to build and pronounce words. She will enjoy stories her teacher reads her.

Reading: Being able to read will open your child to more of the real world and more of the world of the imagination. By the end of Grade 1 she should have learnt to recognize and sound all the letters of the alphabet, including simple words and sentences.

Writing: In Grade 1 your child will learn how to use a pencil, paintbrush and crayon. By the end of Grade 1 she will be able write all the letters of the alphabet, including simple words, sentences and stories.

What you can do to help your child develop language skills

Here are some tips to assist your child:

  • Set aside time in which to talk about school.
  • Encourage eye contact in order to help him concentrate on what is being said.
  • Keep alive your child’s natural curiosity by answering questions fully.
  • Develop a love for reading by regularly visiting the library and helping choose books your child will enjoy.
  • Read your child a story every night before bed.
  • Develop a love for story-telling. Tell family stories and encourage him to tell stories about his own experiences. Ask questions about the stories.
  • Ask him questions. Find out how he feels and what he thinks.
  • Give books as presents.
  • Make your child conscious of the alphabet. (“Is this a ‘b’ or a ‘d’?”).
  • Help your child to read words (“What is the name on this label?”).
  • Increase your child’s vocabulary by 5 to 10 words every day.

Snapshot of the Mathematics syllabus

What your child must know and be able to do by the end of Grade 1

Numbers: Your child’s ability to work with numbers will help him forge a natural link with the outside world. In Grade 1 your child will learn how to recognise, describe, record, compare and order, as well as solve word problems with answers up to 20.

Patterns: Patterns are everywhere: Your heartbeat, breathing, music, seashells, sand dunes and breaking waves. Numbers also form patterns, as in 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, … Your child must be able to recognize, describe and copy patterns, where possible. He will also work with shapes to create his own patterns.

Space and Shape: You child will learn about three-dimensional objects (spheres, balls, boxes, prisms) and two-dimensional shapes (circles, triangles and squares). Of importance also is the relationship between objects (“Is the triangle above or below the circle?”).

Measurement: Your child will use informal units of measurement to determine the mass of an object (e.g. a balance scale), length (e.g. string, hand spans) and volume (e.g. bottles, containers). He will use words like ‘more’, ‘less’, ’empty’ or ‘full’ to describe what he observes.

Time: Your child will learn to distinguish times of the day (morning, evening) and to use a calendar to determine the days of the week and months of the year.


Please talk to your child’s teacher about how to build your child’s reading, writing and maths skills at home. By supporting your school you can do a lot to ensure your school is a happy place in which to teach and learn.

What you can do to assist your child with mathematics

If your child can learn to enjoy and not fear mathematics then the world of patterns, numbers, shapes will open up for him. Therefore, think and talk maths with your child:

  • If the newspaper costs R 15 on Saturday and R 5 on Monday, how much more do we pay on Saturday?
  • Which bucket holds more water?
  • How much time before we take the bread out of the oven?
  • What shape should we make this cookie?
  • When shopping, point out how items are arranged on shelves, how they vary in shape, size and cost.
  • Play number games with your child (e.g. dominoes, snakes and ladders).
  • In addition to the date, weeks and months, use the calendar for counting and number patterns.


In addition

You can also help your child and your teacher by

  • ensuring your child arrives at school on time.
  • ensuring your child obtains exercise books and any other relevant books in the first week of school.
  • checking that your child has read, written and practised maths every day.
  • ensure that your child has adequate exercise and sleep
  • checking your child’s exercise books regularly.
  • appreciating the importance of homework; although it should not exceed 10 minutes a day in the first two terms of Grade 1, and 15 minutes in terms 3 and 4.
  • discussing your child’s progress with the teacher (Your school should provide you with an assessment plan at the beginning of the year and a formal progress report at the end of each term.); and
  • ensuring your child attends school every day for the 200 days of the school year.


Literacy and numeracy resources

WCED Online website

  1. Web address:
  2. Our website is updated daily and gives you a find-a-school facility, curriculum information, education news, frequently asked questions and much more.
  3. There is also an excellent Tips for Parents page: particularly

    • Grades R to 6: How to build your child’s reading, writing and maths skills at home
    • Grade 3: How to improve your child’s reading, writing and language skills at home
    • Grade 3: How to improve your child’s maths skills at home
    • Holiday and leisure-time reading guide
    • Links to a selection of Internet (“online”) games and activities to help reinforce your children’s literacy and numeracy skills
    • You can click on Education Update on our home page to read online editions of our newspaper.


WCED YouTube channel

  1. Web address:
  2. Check out the following TeacherTips YouTube videos
    • Getting every child in your class reading series of seven short video clips on YouTube that will give you insight into how a good teacher encourages reading in her classroom and ideas for things to do at home.
    • The MST Project‘ (MST stands for Maths, Science and Technology), with the following titles of particular relevance: Shapes and relationships, More shapes and relationships, Numbers, Volume and size, Shape and perspective, Giving and following instructions, Area, Solids, Building confidence, Temperature.
    • The channel also features the Western Cape’s award-winning teachers and principals. View the videos to see what top quality teaching and school leadership are all about.


Recommended reading

Children should read during holidays and leisure time to practise reading and to develop a love of books. Here are examples of fun books for children in Grades R to 6 that are usually available in libraries and bookshops.

Local publications:
Foundation Phase Picture books

  • Niki Daly: A song for Jamela
  • Niki Daly: Happy Birthday, Jamela!
  • Niki Daly: Jamela’s dress
  • Niki Daly: Where’s Jamela?
  • Niki Daly: Yebo, Jamela!
  • Joan Rankin: First day
  • Lesley Beake / Karin Littlewood: Home now
  • Maryanne Bester: Mealies and beans
  • Maryanne Bester: The long trousers
  • Mari Grobler: Lulama’s magic blanket
  • Mari Grobler: Musa’s journey
  • Mari Grobler: Siyolo’s jersey
  • Mari Grobler: Thandiwe’s choice
  • Hartmann, Wendy: We’re having a party
  • Hartmann, Wendy: In a house, in a house
  • Hartmann, Wendy: Just Sisi
  • Wendy Maartens: A star with stripes
  • Wendy Maartens: Lena’s bottle tree
  • Chris van Wyk: Ouma Ruby’s secret
  • Sindiwe Magona: The best meal ever
  • Gcina Mhlophe: The singing chameleon
  • Elinor Batezat Sisulu: The day Gogo went to vote
  • Pat Thomson / Niki Daly (ill.): The squeaky, creaky bed


International publications:
Foundation Phase Picture books

  • Jeannie Baker: Belonging
  • Jeannie Baker: Window
  • Bernard Ashley: Double the love
  • Trish Cooke: Full, full, full of love
  • Sam McBratney: Guess how much I love you
  • Eileen Browne: Handa’s hen
  • Jane Yolen: How do dinosaurs eat their food?
  • Jane Yolen: How do dinosaurs go to school?
  • Jane Yolen: How do dinosaurs learn colours and numbers?
  • Jane Yolen: How do dinosaurs say good night?
  • Lauren Child: I am absolutely too small for school
  • Lauren Child: But excuse me, that is my book
  • Lauren Child: I am not sleepy and will not go to bed
  • Lauren Child: I will not ever never eat a tomato
  • Lauren Child: We can honestly look after your dog
  • Mo Willems: Knuffle Bunny
  • Mo Willems: Knuffle Bunny too
  • Ian Falconer: Olivia
  • Ian Falconer: Olivia saves the circus
  • Ian Falconer: Olivia helps with Christmas
  • Bob Graham: Let’s get a pup!
  • Bob Graham: How to heal a broken wing
  • Emily Gravett: Little Mouse’s big book of fears
  • Emily Gravett: Meerkat mail
  • Emily Gravett: Wolves
  • Mary Hoffman: Princess Grace
  • Rob Scotton: Russell the sheep
  • Rob Scotton: Russell and the lost treasure
  • Patricia Polacco: Thank you, Mr Falker
  • Alice McLerran: The mountain that loved a bird
  • Eric Carle: The very hungry caterpillar
  • Graham Base: The waterhole
  • Julia Jarman: Class Two at the zoo
  • Nancy Coffelt: Fred stays with me
  • Michelle Knudsen: Library lion
  • Anthony Browne: Little Beauty
  • Carl Norac: My grandpa is a champion
  • Joyce Carol Thomas: The blacker the berry
  • Norton Juster: The hello, goodbye window
  • Jessica Swain: The hound from the pound
  • Jerry Pinkney: The lion and the mouse
  • Bernard Ashley: Double the love
  • Trish Cooke: Full, full, full of love
  • Sam McBratney: Guess how much I love you
  • Eileen Browne: Handa’s hen
  • Jane Yolen: How do dinosaurs eat their food?
  • Lauren Child: I am absolutely too small for school
  • Mo Willems: Knuffle Bunny
  • Bob Graham: Let’s get a pup!
  • Emily Gravett: Little Mouse’s big book of fears
  • Emily Gravett: Meerkat mail
  • Mary Hoffman: Princess Grace
  • Rob Scotton: Russell the sheep
  • Patricia Polacco: Thank you, Mr Falker
  • Alice McLerran: The mountain that loved a bird
  • Eric Carle: The very hungry caterpillar
  • Graham Base: The waterhole.


Foundation Phase

  • Peter Riley: Bang!: sound and how we hear things
  • Julie Haydon: Grow your own lettuce
  • Helen Lanz: Jamela’s dress
  • Claire Llewellyn: Making with paper
  • Jim Pipe: Racing cars
  • Frances Ridley: Supercars.

 Thanks to Western Cape Education DepartmentWCED Home page 


Social & Emotional Development: This area of learning focuses on assisting the child to mature emotionally, developing a sense of self and self worth. The child will learn to be more independent and able to take responsibility for him or herself. He or she will develop an understanding of social interaction and relationships, as well as develop appropriate social behaviours and skills.

Cognitive & Perceptual Development: Cognitive and perceptual development is integrated and demonstrated across all the other areas of learning. It is important that it is not viewed in isolation. As the child progresses from one grade to another his or her skills will increase in sophistication and maturity. The child will develop visual and auditory perceptual skills, as well as the ability to think and problem solve using a variety of strategies.

Physical Development: This learning area is divided into two components: fine motor and gross motor development. Gross motor development refers to the activities that stimulate and strengthen the development of large muscles to facilitate balance, coordination, locomotion and builds core strength. Fine motor development focuses on the small muscles required for manipulating small objects and tools. However, attention is also given to aspects of physical development that affect both gross and fine motor skills development, such as laterality (dominance of one side of the brain in controlling particular activities or functions), dominance, core strength and crossing the mid-line.

Language & Literacy (First Language): This learning area focuses on the development of language and literacy skills. As part of language development the child needs to cultivate strong communication skills, which includes listening and speaking skills. Prereading and reading skills develop progressively across the different grades. A child will also develop drawing and writing skills alongside reading skills.

Within this document the guidelines make specific reference to teaching English and will need to be modified for schools that teach another language as the First or Home Language.

Different schools utilise different literacy programmes, such as THRASS, Letterland. RAVE-O, Jolly Phonics and so on. Each of these programmes adheres to its own specific methodologies and content. These curriculum guidelines highlight the general foundation skills and principles that should be developed within each grade and that underpin most reputable literacy programmes. They can be referred to and used to supplement existing literacy programmes within schools.

Differentiation is made between the First/Home Language programme and Additional Language programmes at schools.

Language & Literacy(Additional Languages): Language and literacy development extends to the acquisition of additional languages. These languages will differ from school to school and between regions.

Within state schools and those strictly following CAPS, learners are required to select one first additional language from as early as Grade 1. CAPS has introduced significantly higher expectations of leaners in this area than was required in the past. Within most ISASA schools the trend remains to expose children to more than one additional language between Grade 000 to Grade 5 and most children select only one additional language to take forward from Grade 6. Within the ECD phase the focus is on aural exposure and transmission and the expectations, with specific reference to reading and writing, are significantly lower than that of CAPS. It is usually within the Intermediate Phase that learners within private schools will become more proficient in these areas. This approach has both benefits and shortfalls. An attempt has been made within these guidelines to find a balance between pushing children too early to learn an additional language when they are still trying to bed down their first or home language versus children having to make a significantly large jump in learning expectations in this area of learning when they reach the Intermediate Phase.

Educators are reminded that these guidelines are not aligned to CAPS in this specific learning area. Learning outcomes are significantly lower than CAPS; therefore, educators are encouraged to provide extension where and when possible. It is also important to note that the guidelines are as generic as possible as different schools and regions offer different language choices. Guidelines need to be adapted and modified, used or excluded, where appropriate for the language being taught.

It is recommended that if more than one additional language is taught at a school, the additional languages need to be given the same time and effort in the classroom so that when children are expected to choose between them, all additional languages are on an equal footing.

Numeracy: Numeracy focuses on the development of the understanding of number and mathematical concepts. It incorporates patterns, functions and later algebra; as well as space and shape (geometry). A child will also develop an understanding of measurement and data handling.

Creative Arts: This learning area encompasses the performing arts, such as music, movement and drama as well as the visual arts. A child is encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that promote creativity, imagination and originality. In addition, there is a section on art appreciation, which has been included to stimulate an interest and understanding of the various art forms.

Knowledge & Skills: The final learning area encompasses a range of topics and learning experiences. The purpose of this learning area is to broaden a child’s knowledge of self and the world he or she lives in and to develop appropriate life skills.

National Early Learning and Development Standards for Children Birth to Four Years (NELDS)
CAPS National Curriculum Documents (Foundation Phase- Grade R to Grade 3)
ECD Workgroup regional reports