For many fourth graders, school starts to become challenging
for the first time this year as teachers expect more of their
academic performance. For example, printable worksheets for schoolwork
will contain more detailed instructions and long range planning
than before. Group projects are more common, requiring students
to learn to work successfully with their peers. Students may also
be presented with organizational challenges, as subjects require
their own textbooks and folders to keep track of worksheets.
Complex reading and writing subjects
This year, language and literacy projects become more complex.
Teacher worksheets may include required in-depth reading for students
to complete at home. Fourth graders can use context clues to figure
out the meanings of new words. Students will become exposed to
new genres, such as myths and legends, and fourth graders will
relate to characters that are similar to themselves.
Fourth graders also learn to use research tools like encyclopedias
and the Internet to complete reports. In writing, they are learning
proper structures, such as organizing ideas into separate paragraphs.
You will start to see more of their personality coming through
in their writing style.
Building math skills
Much of fourth grade math continues to build on topics learned in previous
years. Homeschool worksheets will include addition, subtraction,
multiplication, and division, as well as fractions, decimals,
and whole numbers. Fourth graders start to explore more geometry.
Thus, they learn to measure angles and how to find simple perimeters
and areas. Students can read and create their own charts, graphs,
The physical world is complex
At this age, fourth grade science students are realizing that
there are complex systems at work in nature. They are able to
understand changes that occur over long periods of time, such
as observing the water cycle or looking at the evolutionary changes
in the planet.
Taking science one step further, fourth graders may be required
to come up with hypotheses or predictions on how items will behave.
This develops their cognitive and analytical skills.
History close to home
This year, social studies will often focus on a student's home
state, starting with the history and moving forward to current
events. Fourth graders are able to understand the basic government
structures and how laws work.
In addition, surrounding their social studies, fourth graders
may begin a long-term project, teaching them planning skills.
For example, if they live in California, their long-term project
may be researching the missions, writing a report, and building
a miniature model.
New social challenges
Social relationships are blossoming, and fourth graders become
concerned about fitting in with their peers. Thus, they begin
to develop perceptions regarding their appearances, and they are
more susceptible to peer pressure. New social dilemmas pop up
in school, sometimes requiring teacher intervention. At this stage,
however, many students are still willing to try to resolve their
Beginning in fourth grade, a gap between students' physical and
social development may occur. For example, girls are developing
faster, and some will begin their menstruation this year. They
will want to imitate the pop culture they see in the media. If
you have not already, now is the time to start talking to your
fourth grader about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and other adult
topics. On the other hand, other fourth graders may still be interested
in playing with toys.
Many fourth graders start to find their niche. Some students
may have difficulty coping with new-found independence at school
and the responsibilities that are added to them. At the same time,
they are starting to realize which subjects they enjoy and in
which they excel. Strong readers love reading books in subjects
that they find exciting, while those students interested in science
enjoy experiments. Fourth grade is a time where students begin
to plant the first seeds of their personal development.