Fourth grade challenge? Bring it on! Fourth graders are ready for more complex and independent work. Their classrooms must allow them to spread their wings, socially and academically. During the next few years, it's so important that an emerging adolescent feel competent. How do schools make sure this happens with the right amount of encouragement and challenge?
A strong, challenging curriculum that includes many hands-on and real life applications and experiences is the right recipe. Practice, practice, practice! Think of these next few years as a chunk of time in which students will become masters of critical thinking! But it all begins with practice that includes success and failure, both socially and academically.
Here are several characteristics of a challenging 4th grade experience that lead to competence and success:
- Students practice drawing information from printed material. Students continue to move from "learning to read" to "reading to learn,"
- Students take advantage of opportunities provided by teachers to become more responsible in the areas of homework and self-motivated reading,
- Schools properly manage homework and make it worthwhile,
- Classroom lessons, projects, and routines are designed according to the knowledge of students' strengths and needs,
- Every child is unique, they will not develop at the same rate, so teachers must accommodate and differentiate as needed.
A parent reminded me about a story she loves to tell about when her son was struggling to memorize his math facts. The night before a timed test she called me to let her know that although he had been studying and seemed to know his facts, he could not get all the answers on the paper in the allotted time, and he was afraid he was going to bomb the test.
The next day I tested her son by giving him the test orally and he did very well. The student was able to be successful because of the parent's communication with me and because I was able to tailor his assessment to meet his individual needs. The mom said she doesn't know if her son, now in our Upper School, remembers this at all, but it made a big impact on her that I took the time to do this.The relationships that students develop with us are so important at this age. As with 3rd graders, 4th graders, who are becoming more aware of how others see them, may need to be encouraged to take creative and intellectual risks. An observant teacher and an emotionally safe classroom environment will help your child embrace challenges rather than turn away from them.