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How LVDS Builds a Strong Foundation in 1st Grade: Key Skills for Academic Success

As children embark on their educational journey, the first grade holds a pivotal role in setting the stage for future academic success. During this critical stage, students learn a variety of foundational skills that serve as building blocks for their educational journey. In this article, we will explore the key foundational skills that students learn in first grade and how these skills lay the groundwork for future academic achievement.

  1. Language and Literacy Skills

In first grade, students dive into the world of language and literacy, developing crucial skills for reading and communication. The language program at Las Vegas Day School (LVDS) emphasizes creative writing, poetry, letter writing, and the development of strong handwriting skills. Students learn to form complete sentences, employing proper use of verbs, nouns, proper nouns, and punctuation. Spelling and grammar instruction further refines their language skills, enabling them to express themselves effectively.

The comprehensive, literature-based reading series used in first grade exposes students to a range of texts, fostering a love for reading and enhancing their comprehension skills. Through phonics instruction, students learn the relationship between sounds and letters, enabling them to decode words and read fluently. In addition to phonics, students develop oral reading skills, improving their ability to understand and articulate the meaning of what they read. Encouraging students to read for enjoyment helps cultivate a lifelong love for literature and develops their overall language proficiency.

  1. Mathematical Skills

Mathematics instruction in first grade focuses on building a solid foundation of numerical and problem-solving skills. At LVDS, first graders review and strengthen their counting skills, extending their understanding of numbers through basic addition and subtraction up to 99. They also work on memorizing plus-and-minus facts through 20 and gain a grasp of place value up to 100. These foundational skills provide a strong basis for future mathematical concepts.

First-grade students are introduced to essential mathematical operations such as time, money value, logic, reasoning, graphing, problem-solving, measurement, and three-dimensional shapes. By engaging in hands-on activities and real-life applications, students develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and build critical thinking skills. These foundational skills not only support academic success in mathematics, but also develop logical reasoning abilities that are applicable across various disciplines.

  1. Social Studies and Science

Social Studies

First graders at LVDS have the opportunity to explore social studies and science, gaining knowledge about the world around them and developing essential inquiry and analytical skills. The social studies curriculum covers various topics, including the study of the United States and the world, cultural variations during holidays, and the development of map skills. Students also learn about themselves, their families, and important concepts such as fire safety. These lessons help students develop a sense of identity, cultural awareness, and an appreciation for diversity.


In science, first graders engage in hands-on learning experiences that spark curiosity and foster scientific inquiry. The curriculum includes topics such as engineering and technology, sound, light, plant and animal structures, living things and their young, as well as objects and patterns in the sky. Through observation, exploration, and experimentation, students develop a deeper understanding of the natural world and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  1. Art, Physical Education, and Other Subjects

At LVDS, first-grade education extends beyond core subjects taught within a self-contained classroom. Students experience enrichment specials weekly, such as art, physical education, computer literacy, library, and Spanish.


The art curriculum integrates art history, culture, aesthetic perception, and creative expression. Students learn about the elements of art and principles of design, and develop skills in drawing, painting, sculpting, and crafts. These artistic endeavors encourage self-expression, creativity, and the development of visual literacy.

Physical Education

Physical education classes enhance large and small motor coordination skills, rhythmic activities, and perceptual movements.

Students engage in various physical activities, including team and individual sports, cooperative games, and exercises that promote health and well-being. These classes also emphasize the importance of cooperation, skills development, teamwork, participation, and sportsmanship.

Computer Literacy

First graders at LVDS also receive instruction in computer literacy, where they develop basic knowledge of computers, keyboarding skills, and the use of software. They learn to create Microsoft Office Suite projects, developing skills that are essential in the digital age. Emphasis is placed on online safety and proper computer etiquette, ensuring responsible and informed use of technology.


Library classes focus on information access and problem-solving skills. Students learn how to use the library by locating books using the online catalog and finding the books on the shelves. Literature appreciation is also emphasized through class discussions. The extensive selection of books and digital resources available at LVDS’s library provides students with opportunities for independent reading, research, and exploration.


Elementary Spanish lessons at LVDS introduce students to vocabulary, communicative competence, and cultural awareness. Themes such as greetings, family, community members, clothing, time, animals, numbers, school life, food, and cultural awareness are explored through stories, songs, and videos. These lessons lay the foundation for further language learning and promote multicultural understanding.

LVDS First-Grade Program Fosters Essential Skills for Lifelong Learning

First grade serves as the foundation for a child’s educational journey, where they develop essential skills in language and literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, arts, physical education, computer literacy, library skills, and Spanish. The comprehensive first-grade program at Las Vegas Day School (LVDS) provides a nurturing environment where these foundational skills are fostered, enhancing a love for learning and setting the stage for future academic success. By recognizing the significance of first-grade education and supporting the development of these foundational skills, parents, educators, and students can pave the way for a lifetime of educational achievement.

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