“How old are you in 1st grade?”
Since you are asking a simple question, we will give you a simple answer:
The average 1st grader (in the U.S.) is 6 years old when the school year begins, and 7 years old by the last day of the school year.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this “rule.” We will cover the topic in more detail — and discuss these exceptions — below.
How Old Are 1st Graders?
As mentioned above, the “typical” 1st grader in the U.S. is 6 years old at the beginning of the year and 7 years old when the year ends.
For students that “skip” a grade, it is likely that the student will be 5 years old at the beginning of the year (and 6 at the end).
For students that were “held back” for one year, it is likely that the student will be 7 years old at the beginning of the year (and 8 at the end).
- Lastly, because the age “cut-off” doesn’t always coincide with the first day of school, some students with birthdays near the cut-off will begin 1st grade at the age of 5 years, 11 months, while others will begin 1st grade at the age of 7 years, 0 months. (More on this below).
When is the “Cut-Off” Between Grades?
Generally, the cut-off date is somewhere in late summer or early fall. For students born anytime between October and July, there is an “obvious” time to begin school — start kindergarten at age 5 and progress from there.
However, students with birthdays in August and September can be more challenging.
These parents must choose whether their child should be the youngest (perhaps 4 years and 11 months old) or the oldest (perhaps 5 years and 11 months old) student in his/her class.
Education Week provides a great discussion of this topic, along with a state-by-state breakdown of entrance ages and compulsory school ages.
“First” Grade Confusion
One final topic that should be discussed — “1st” grade isn’t actually a student’s first year of school (in the U.S.).
Because most American children have a year of kindergarten prior to beginning 1st grade, the math is a bit confusing.
So, in order to calculate years of schooling, you have to add 1 to the stated grade. (For example, a 7th grader is in his 8th year of school, while a 12th grader is actually in his 13th year).
The simple answer here is that 1st graders are 6 to 7 years old.
However, it isn’t uncommon for a student to begin 1st grade at age 5. Nor is it rare for a student to complete 1st grade at age 8.
Lastly, don’t forget that cut-off ages vary from one state to another. So, if a new student transfers into your school that is older or younger than the rest of the class, don’t assume that he was advanced or held back at his previous school.