Elementary School Learning

In elementary school, children learn how to learn—and remember—new information. Students study a variety of subjects. These help them develop both creativity and critical-thinking skills. These skills are what they’ll need to meet the challenges in later years.

Grades K–5 set the foundation for:

  • reading
  • writing
  • listening
  • speaking
  • math
  • science
  • social studies
  • health
  • physical education
  • the arts

Kindergarten

Kindergarten forms the basic building blocks of literacy and arithmetic. NYC students can apply for kindergarten in the year they turn five. In this grade, students will:

  • learn the alphabet (including sounds of letters, words, pronunciations)
  • share ideas and feelings through speech, drawing, writing
  • explore music, movement, and playmaking
  • identify numbers and count up to 100
  • add and subtract numbers up to 10
  • learn about family, school, and community members
  • study plants and animals, and identify certain materials (for example metal and wood) and their characteristics

First Grade

First graders build on their knowledge of words and math, including:

  • understanding place values and whole numbers
  • subtracting numbers up to 20
  • describing shapes
  • telling time
  • identifying and comparing animals of different shapes, sizes, and types
  • recognizing properties of solids, liquids, and gases
  • basic understanding of weather and seasonal change
  • exploring music and rhythm

Second Grade

Second graders advance reading and writing skills through a variety of texts while expanding math skills even further. Students begin to:

  • edit their own writing
  • ask “who, what, where, when, why, and how” questions about what they read
  • learn to solve math-based word problems
  • add and subtract numbers up to 100
  • work with fractions and units of measure, such as money
  • study NYC history, geography, and local government
  • explore basic earth science

Third Grade

Once in third grade, students learn how to express their ideas clearly while improving their mastery of math to include multiplication and division, students:

  • solve problems with multiplication and division of numbers up to 100
  • learn about world communities and cultures for the first time
  • gain a better understanding of sound and heat
  • study how animals and plants live and adapt to their surrounding environments
  • are expected to take NY State Math/ELA exams (Grades 3–8) for the first time

Fourth Grade

When students reach fourth grade, they:

  • identify themes or main ideas of texts, take notes, research, and organize information
  • solve multi-step, word-based math problems
  • add, subtract, and multiply fractions
  • measure angles, volume, mass, and time
  • study NY State history and government
  • learn more about animals, plants, natural environments, electricity, magnetism, and the ways that water, land, and air interact with one another

Fifth Grade

Students in the fifth grade—last grade before middle school—spend their time preparing for the curricula they will review in grades 6–8. Throughout this academic year, fifth graders:

  • build their vocabulary by reading more demanding books and learning new words
  • understand and use figurative language
  • explain and summarize texts while also sharing their own interpretations using evidence
  • study the use of decimals to the hundredth place
  • incorporate advanced fractions, geometry, measurements, and exponents
  • study world geography, Western cultures, early Western societies
  • learn more about earth science, including ecosystems
  • review positive health and nutrition practices
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