Primary to Fourth Grade

“The universe is a big place. But it’s okay, you’ll grow into it.” – Carl Munson

Exiting primary and entering fourth grade is a big transition for children and their parents. In fourth grade, teachers begin preparing students for middle school and high school with a more traditional classroom set-up and schedule. They focus more on independent work and time management, and the pace of learning picks up. While most fourth-graders are ready for all this, others need help making the transition. This section will give a general overview of what transition looks like at this particular transition point.

Family Involvement

When parents are involved in their children’s education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school — and the schools they go to are better.  Gurian, Goodman, and Schwartz outline some things parents can do:

  • Be aware of the different age-related, social and academic challenges children face at various stages and that times of transition can be an added stress. Also know the specific needs of the child that makes transitions harder.
  • Consider personal and family situations that may impact the child and make a particular year more difficult. Inform and collaborate with the school staff to obtain the best support.
  • Prepare the child for new school experiences by discussing the changes beforehand and phase in necessary adjustments ahead of time. For example, at the end of a vacation gradually set an earlier bedtime to make entry into the new routine smoother.
  • Young children can be helped to separate from parents and interact with new school-mates by providing them with opportunities to spend time with friends or relatives without their parents. Arrange play dates, play groups and other opportunities for socialization. Introduce some school-type activities at home, such as story time, snack time, and rest time.
  • Form a partnership with the child’s teachers and school personnel. In meetings, listen to their point of view and let them explain their expectations. Children can behave differently at home than in school when under stress from academic and social challenges.
  • Keep hands off assignments; act as a guide or resource for children. Discuss possible ways to do the assignment, but don’t actually do the work.
  • If homework keeps the child up well past the usual bedtime, despite the fact that the child is putting forth his or her best effort, discuss the issue with the teacher. The aim of both parents and teachers should be to prevent parent/child homework conflict and to help the child avoid feeling incompetent.
  • Be alert to the specific situations or types of assignments that are particularly difficult for your child. Investigate the problem with the school and consider obtaining an educational evaluation.
  • Consider both the student and teacher partners in the education process. If your child is experiencing social, academic or homework quandaries, include both the student and teacher in open discussions about the specifics of the problem and in developing.

Gurian, A; Goodman, R.F., Schwartz,  S. (2006) Transition Points: Helping Students Start, Change, and Move Through the Grades.

Individual Planning

During elementary school, students work on developing proficiencies in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, art, music, library, and thinking skills. Fourth-grade students complete a writing portfolio.

Students also learn how to learn from past mistakes and to cooperate with schoolmates on in-class assignments. Students are encouraged to form their own opinions, to read and write for enjoyment and knowledge, to work in teams, and to develop a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in their abilities.

Some students may need informal individualized planning for instruction, intervention, or transition. Others will require formal individualized planning such as an individual education plan or individual reading assistance plan. For students with severe cognitive or physical disabilities, postsecondary transition planning with adult service providers should start as early as possible.

Gurian, A; Goodman, R.F., Schwartz,  S. (2006) Transition Points: Helping Students Start, Change, and Move Through the Grades.

Health and Development

Fourth grade students are learning to identify indicators of mental, social, and physical health during childhood. Students at this age establish the basic health promotion and disease prevention skills and should be able to apply them in their individual lives, including:

  • Community/environmental health
  • Consumer health
  • Disease prevention and control
  • Human growth and development
  • Nutrition
  • Family life
  • Safety and first aid
  • Personal health
  • Mental health
  • Drug abuse prevention

The students should also gain an understanding about the importance of participation in physical activity.

Normal growth, supported by good nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise is one of the best overall indicators of your child’s good health. At this age, there continues to be a wide range of “normal” regarding height, weight, and shape.

Children tend to get taller at a pretty steady pace, growing about 2.5 inches (6.35 centimeters) each year. When it comes to weight, though, kids often start gaining weight faster at around 8 to 9 years of age.

KidsHealth asserts that there are several things parents can do to help ensure that their child grows and develops normally. Make sure he or she gets the following, which are critical to overall health and wellness:

  • Enough rest – Sleep patterns vary by age and individual child, but most kids need an average of 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night. Sleep gives growing bodies the rest they need to continue growing properly.
  • Proper nutrition – A balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals will help your child reach his or her full growth potential.
  • Adequate exercise – Because obesity is a growing problem in kids, parents should make sure that their children exercise regularly, as well as receive proper nutrition. Bicycling, hiking, in-line skating, sports, or any enjoyable activity that will motivate your kid to get moving will promote good health and fitness and help your child maintain a healthy weight.
Interagency Collaboration

Bruner states that research about interagency collaboration is important because of the following factors:

  • No one can do it alone.
  • Improving the quality of life and the education of children with disabilities and their families requires the collective knowledge, skills, experience and expertise of all family members and professionals.
  • It requires that the community and all service systems work together to achieve the goals of the child and family.

Bruner, C.; Kunesh, L.G.; Knuth, R.A. “What Does Research Say About Interagency Collaboration?”

  • Kentucky Department of Education.  The Kentucky Department of Education is a service agency of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The department provides resources and guidance to Kentucky’s public schools and districts as they implement the state’s K-12 education requirements. The department also serves as the state liaison for federal education requirements and funding opportunities.
  • Kentucky School for the Blind.  The mission of the Kentucky School for the Blind is to provide comprehensive educational services to all Kentucky students who are blind and visually impaired, birth to 21.
  • Kentucky School for the Deaf.  Kentucky School for the Deaf makes sure every child is given the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential to become confident, self-supporting, independent, and have a rewarding future upon graduation as a productive member of society.
  • Kentucky Autism Training Center  The mission of the Kentucky Autism Training Center is to strengthen Kentucky’s systems of support for persons affected by autism by bridging research to practice and by providing training and resources to families and professionals.
  • Department for Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities.  The mission of the Department of Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities is to provide leadership, in partnership with others, to prevent disability, build resilience in individuals and their communities, and facilitate recovery for people whose lives have been affected by mental illness, intellectual disability or other developmental disability, or substance abuse.