First Grade
Students all posing for a photo on the playground equipment.

The first grade teachers at Harrowgate take a theme-based approach to teaching the Chesterfield County curriculum. Themes help our young students to focus and strengthen their speaking and writing vocabularies. Students enjoy becoming experts on a topic, continuing to research their favorite topics on-line or in the library, and demonstrating their expertise. Each theme has a reading, writing, and technology component. Many themes have higher level thinking activities for students.

Language Arts

Reading and writing is greatly emphasized throughout the school year in first grade. Many students begin first grade with knowledge of letters and sounds and know some words by sight. Letter and word knowledge is built throughout the year as students acquire more sight word recognition and learn to decode more complicated words. A strong emphasis is placed on the comprehension of a story – making predictions, setting, characters, the beginning, middle, end of the story. Students clarify, visualize, predict, infer, summarize, make connections, and form questions about what they are reading. In writing, students learn basic conventions of writing, such as capitalization and ending punctuation. They learn to add “spark” to their writing using describing words. They grow from writing single sentence compositions to crafting longer stories that include a beginning, middle, end, and feeling sentence. First graders study word features as they learn about using short and long vowels in their spelling.


In first grade mathematics, students work extensively on learning relationships between numbers. Understanding number concepts allows students to use addition and subtraction strategies efficiently. First graders will learn to use strategies such as adding on or counting back 1 or 2, doubles, near doubles, and relationships with 10. As we work on building number sense throughout the year, we weave in many other math units. Students will learn to tell time to the half hour, count coins, properties of plane geometric shapes, count by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s,10’s and create increasingly difficult patterns.


In Science, students learn about sun and earth relationships, seasonal changes, natural resources, motion of objects, interaction with water, and basic needs and characteristics of plants and animals through interactive lessons and experiments.

Social Studies

Our year begins with learning social skills within and outside the classroom in our citizenship unit. In the fall, we focus on Virginia History and Virginia historical figures. First graders will learn about American leaders and famous Virginians within the months of January and February. They will also be introduced to landforms, climates and seasons, Virginia government, and map skills. Economics is the final topic we explore, including the concepts of wants vs. needs, goods vs. services, producers vs. consumers, economic choices, and saving.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to assist their children by teaching them to be organized.

  1. Have a special place to keep backpacks and library books.
  2. Have a designated time and place for you and your student to do homework together. Be aware of PE day so your child wears sneakers.
  3. Look in your child’s daily folder each night and discuss your child’s day.
  4. Read ten minutes nightly. (As the year progresses, your student should take over.)
  5. Help your child with his/her homework monthly beginning October.
  6. Help your child learn to read and spell the weekly word wall words. Do not get behind. Keep the word list that you are given at the beginning of each quarter so that you can review constantly.
  7. Be sure your child returns their daily folder each morning.
  8. Contact your child’s teacher when you have questions.
  9. Celebrate your child’s learning frequently in small ways!!
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