Who would’ve thought that this was an actual thing? We think about starting the first grade, or perhaps heading off to High school, as a big jump. But the transition from 3 to 4 is not something we are generally aware of or prepared for! Why is it such a big jump? Well, for starters, the gentle focus of younger-grade teachers on basic skills and social development is now gone. WHAT?? When did that happen?! Now, there are harder subjects to deal with (e.g. History, Biology, Geography, etc.), more schoolwork and homework to organize, and real tests to study for. Some schools go as far as to call these exams. Like seriously guys? Just two months ago my child was just barely doing basic times tables and writing of sentences! In the fourth grade, children stop learning to read and start reading to learn.
But the jump in education is not the only jump our poor babies must endure…they also face the challenge of transitioning into a more complex social environment. The infamous cliques in the schooling environment become more and more evident, and the pressure to fit in to a group of friends or find acceptance among some friends-ANY friends- can hit them like a ton of bricks.
What can we be prepared for in this year for our children starting the fourth grade? And how can we support them and guide them through this massive year of social and educational development?
What to Expect
Heaps of homework.
Some children, depending on how quickly they work, can end up with up to 40 minutes of homework a day! While so many people are totally opposed to this idea, it may be something we need to work through if this is the schooling environment we choose for our child.
Real Hardcore Studying.
For the first time, your child will now need to STUDY. Like for real. Not just recite a couple of sentences. Your child will need to study a reasonable amount of work for tests and exams.
Your ears are going to fall off from hearing a HUGE amount of information.
Expect to find out more than you yourself ever knew about the country you live in. Also, did you know that photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize nutrients from carbon dioxide and water? Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a by-product.
Shapes of things.
While fourth-grade math is largely an extension of third-grade math (more multiplication, more division, more fractions), there is also more geometry, which often fascinates children this age.
You may have heard about comprehension tests? The teachers start our little ones out by asking them to gather information from a segment provided. They need to answer questions from the pieces provided. Then…they take a step further and provide our kiddies with projects that they themselves need to go out and gather information for. Suddenly, google…or the library (depending on which route you prefer to take with your child) will become your best friend!
You may suddenly notice how your little baby is, well, no longer a baby. Your little girl may start to concern herself more with the length of her skirt and the style of her hair, and you might catch your son intentionally untucking his shirt or practicing some or other combination of an awkward bounce and swag walk.
Watch Out for:
- Frustrations with difficult subjects. Your child may feel so overwhelmed as is, and a difficult subject, or something new that your child hasn’t quite grasped yet- may just trigger a bit of an emotional outburst. You will in this time need to offer as much support and help as you can. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should be doing the work for them! On the contrary. You want your child to become independent and capable of doing his schoolwork on his own. But making sure your child understands what is going on, and whether there might be a missing link in his/her foundation somewhere is so important. If something like this isn’t picked up now, there could be so many issues years from now! You may find you need a tutor for a subject, or you might want to help your child yourself if you feel you can do it. Rather address issues or missing links now and ensure a smooth academic journey ahead.
- Sensitive feelings. In cliques and rivalries brews much opportunity for hurt feelings. Friendships can also bring tension and conflict. On top of this, fourth-graders are more sensitive than younger children to what other people think of them. But what can we as parents do about this?
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Communication is key! Get your child to talk about his or her feelings! Yes, you might get a bit bored hearing day and night about how Chelsey stole Amy’s best friend and now Amy is all alone and out to seek revenge and the Funky Four group are going to rue the day that they ever spoke to her at all, BUT- the important thing is that the line of communication is OPEN! And that could be the difference between your child feeling HEARD and feeling TOTALLY MISUNDERSTOOD. Yes, you might not be as cool as the Funky Four. But you are there. And your child will never feel that he/she can’t tell anyone what’s going on. This will not only enable you to protect your child if something serious takes place but will also enable your child to work through things. I’m a firm believer in talking issues right. In other words, the more you say things out loud- even if you’re just using someone as a sounding board, the better you will be able to deal with them!
- “But I don’t know how!” – Your child’s not just making it up…saying ‘I don’t know how’ could be code for…
‘I’m so confused’
‘I really don’t know how’
I know the best thing my parents did for me when I was this age, was sending me to a “How to Study” course. It might be worth while to find a course for your child that could literally teach your child how to study, how to research, how to assemble a project from research done. These are very adult like tasks that our fourth graders are expected to do. We NEED to equip them to be able to do them! Great tools to teach your child are…
- How to draw a mind map. A mind map is useful for putting all the information covered on one space. It can be looked over and give your child a better overall birds-eye view of everything. This will be so useful for not only studying, but also for gathering information for projects and creative writing. If you feel a bit lost in this department, I found the following website super helpful! Mind Mapping for Children
- Working with colours. Many children, right up to Varsity, find working with colour (highlighters, colour pens, sticky notes, etc.) help them remember information better!
- Flash cards. This is great, because it’s something your child may already be familiar with (from times tables or spelling in younger grades.). With everything new and unfamiliar in your child’s life at this point, perhaps a familiar ground will bring him/her some comfort! Show your child how something that they used in the past can be adapted to the work they are doing now.
- Putting rhymes or acronyms together, or even making up stories or songs- for study purposes.
During this big transition- we are so focussed on helping our child through all that has changed that we forget to prepare our hearts for this! This is a big transition for you too, Mama. And it’s scary for you as well Daddy! Your little baby is growing up SO FAST. Don’t forget to prepare yourself for it. Embrace every moment, and treasure each second.
Our team at Diskonto wishes our learners well, and much happiness on their education journey.