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- In Bahrain, the minimum age for the first grade is 6 years old.
- In India, children enter Class 1 or 2 when they are 6 or 7 years old.
- In Malaysia's education system, First Grade or most commonly known as Standard or Year 1 begins at the age of seven.
- In Bulgaria, the minimum age for the first grade is 6 years old.
- In Finland, children are aged 7 to 8 years in this grade.
- In France, first grade would correspond to cours préparatoire (preparatory course).
- In Germany, it would correspond to 1. Klasse.
- In Ireland, the equivalent is known as First Class or Rang a haon. Students are usually 6 or 7 years old as it is the 3rd year of primary school.
- In Poland children enter the 1st year of school (klasa 1) aged six or seven.
- In Portugal, children enter the 1st year of school (1º ano) aged five or six.
- In Sweden, children are 7 years old.
- In the Netherlands, first grade corresponds to Group 3, the third year of primary education.
- In Russia, children are 6 to 7 years old.
- In Ukraine, children are 7 years old.
In England, the first year of school is called reception, and the pupils are 4 to 5 years old. However, the first compulsory school year is Year One, when children are 5 years old. As most primary schools have a reception class which is treated like a compulsory school year, i.e. the children wear uniform and have the same school hours, most children start school in reception. The first grade is the equivalent of Year Two.
Scottish and Welsh pupils usually enter the corresponding stage one year younger. In Northern Ireland they are two years younger. In Scotland, first grade is equivalent to Primary 3. Pupils in Primary 3 are 6 to 8 years old.
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In mathematics, students may learn about addition and subtraction of natural numbers, and about measurement. Basic geometry and graphing may be introduced. Clock and calendar time and money may also be in the curriculum.
In language, first graders are taught the fundamentals of literacy, including reading sentences, writing very simple statements and mastery of the alphabet, building on what the students have learned in kindergarten or other forms of pre-school (although because first grade is the first compulsory level of education in many U.S. states, the level of literacy in incoming students can vary widely). The expectations for first grade have changed due to the Common Core Standards. Curriculum is typically based on state standards developed by educators in each state. Most states use the Commmon Core Standards, so most schools across the country are using similar curricula. First graders are now expected to read and comprehend stories ranging in lengths and difficulty. They are also expected to show an improving fluency rate during the school year.
Students are also typically introduced to the concept of social studies with an emphasis on establishing ideas of history or civics in either a personal or larger sense. Some states focus on the basics of US history and patriotism is taught, with a focus on the founding fathers and the time period surrounding the American Revolution; other states require a social studies focus on family relationships in first grade, leaving community, state, and nation studies to higher grades. Basic geography is also taught in the first grade. Focus on the school's municipal area and culture, along with basic state geography, may also be focused upon in first grade in some states. First grade science usually involves the discussion of matter, plant and animal science, earth materials, and balance and motion, along with the human body, and basic health and nutrition.
Science as inquiry is taught and practiced in first grade. Students are encouraged to observe the world around them and begin asking questions about things they notice. As they become more comfortable investigating the world around them, students will also begin asking better questions and making better, more advanced predictions.
- In New Zealand, this level of class is called J2 or Year 2. Children generally start this level when they are 5 to 6 years old.
- In Brazil, the minimum age for the first grade was changed from 7 to 6 years old.