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, and tables.
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 problems.
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.