"Third and 4th grade were magical years for my daughter," says the mother of a rising 5th grader. "Her teachers went above and beyond making sure she was known, challenged and loved at school. Their encouragement made for a very successful Lower School experience."
Although there are a number of adults who support a child’s education, the primary responsibility for each child lies with his or her classroom teacher, the most important relationship a 4th grader will experience during the year. This was an important reason behind our recent decision to return to single homerooms for 4th graders, who are developmentally ready — and benefit from developing relationships with subject teachers and moving from class to class — but we believe will gain more from a deeper relationship with one teacher for all core subjects.
While our 4th graders enjoy the consistent relationships they have with all of their specialist teachers throughout their Lower School years, we believe that developmentally, they need the close relationship with a core classroom teacher.
This is an age when children are working hard to find out who they are and how they fit in. They are learning to be contributing members of a group, and the feedback they receive from a teacher who spends the greater part of a day with them is invaluable to this process.
Another mom, after attending the 4th grade spring trip to Williamsburg with her son, remarked, "For us parents, seeing our children interact with their teachers and peers is a valuable experience! I was so taken with how engaged they were for the full trip. It was so cool to watch them work together on their notebooks at the end of every day. They all loved adding to the discussion and coming up with detail, after detail for every question. The group got along so well. It was amazing!"
Our 4th grade program provides students with many experiential learning experiences, where they learn by doing, starting the year with an Ellis Island simulation and concluding it with the Oregon Trail expedition.
Here are some of the experiences our 4th graders enjoy:
- Engineering and design challenges - students work in small cooperative groups to solve challenging problems using a specific process. "I love that my daughter was able to spend time in the Design Lab problem solving and being creative. That extra time outside her normal classroom made learning fun."
- Immigration simulation - students and parents create this culminating half-day event bringing to life Ellis Island and the stories of that American experience.
- Tech Week Projects throughout the year - students, both individually and in groups, develop and present projects using a variety of platforms that include Little Bits, iMovies, Explain Everything, and Book Creator.
- Jamestown/Williamsburg field trip during interim - After an extensive study of colonial history, this family trip is a hallmark event in a student's Randolph education.
- Oregon Trail simulation - students empathize with pioneers after a grueling half day trek around the campus, decked out in pioneer costumes. Parents join in the fun as well, coordinating the 'Welcome to Oregon' picnic!
- TenMarks Math - allows students to work on challenging concepts, and with self-initiative students can work a grade level or more ahead.
- Manners Meal - students practice new skills with a formal lunch after a morning filled with lessons in manners, courtesy of the Gothic Guild.
- Classroom Economy - students apply and interview for their classroom job. They earn a salary and then pay rent, utilities and insurance on a monthly basis. They can save or buy classroom rewards as well as have fines deducted for certain behaviors. At the end of the year, they have the opportunity to use their savings during an auction to buy extra items for their Oregon Trail experience.
There are so many memories associated with this year at Randolph. So often, parents are grateful for how much work the teachers and staff put into the dynamic program. Students come back to reminisce about their favorite memories. Students connect their joyful learning experiences, with a great feeling of accomplishment. Challenge and hard work are rewarding, lifelong learning really takes off at this age!