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Most Important Academic Goals for Elementary School

by Jillian L. Wendt , studioD

Elementary school is the beginning of a fruitful educational experience when academic goals are structured to meet the specific needs of the young learner. Knowing which academic goals are most important at this critical age will help you provide learning opportunities that foster the academic goals most important for your child. The widely accepted Common Core State Standards Initiative lists the essential academic goals for young students to be prepared for their futures.


Reading opens the door for your child to enjoy a lifetime of learning. The ability to read and comprehend text is essential as your child enters the middle and high school years, when an enormous amount of information is learned by reading texts. Even more importantly, the ability to use language to communicate is essential to psychological development. According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, by the end of elementary school, your child should have the ability to identify key ideas and details of stories; retell stories; identify characters, settings, and major events; relate the relationship of illustrations to a story; understand the central messages of stories; distinguish between fact and fiction; identify the person who is telling the story; reconstruct stories from diverse cultures and points of view; identify the parts of stories, such as introductions and conclusions; identify patterns of events; understand inferred meanings that are not explicitly stated.


The ability to count is not only important in child development but also important for your child’s future success. Counting is the first step toward an understanding of mathematics that will translate into the future ability to function in society, manage money and make wise financial decisions. By the end of elementary school, your child should be able to count by 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s; write numbers; understand place values; understand, write and manipulate decimals; and understand, write and manipulate fractions.


Another integral part of child development is the ability to recognize and manipulate objects in the environment and make connections between objects and actions. These skills allow your child to develop higher order thinking skills, which aid in critical thinking and problem solving. By the end of elementary school your child should be able to recognize shapes, partition shapes, recognize shapes in patterns and use shapes to form patterns, combine shapes to form new shapes, understand angle concepts and measurements, and draw shapes, angles and lines.

Mathematical Operations

A critical foundation in mathematical operations learned in the elementary years is built upon for years to come. In addition, a mastery of basic mathematics is essential for your child to think critically and propose solutions to problems. By the end of elementary school, your child should be able to solve word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; represent problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; work with groups of objects to represent addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; perform multi-digit arithmetic; exhibit familiarity with factors and multiples; and write simple equations.


About the Author

Based in Northern Virginia, Jillian Wendt has been in science and teacher education for eight years. She has been writing education-related articles for practitioner and research journals for several years. She holds a Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University. Dr. Wendt is passionate about education and is a fervent reader, writer and researcher.

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