Your nine- or ten-year-old is ready to enter the fourth grade. If you’re following the classical model of homeschooling, your child is still in the grammar stage, a time when memorization of poetry, historical dates, math facts, and grammar rules is encouraged. But what else does she need to know?
You can check with your state’s fourth grade standards online, or you could follow the recommendations in books such as What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch. If you’re following the Charlotte Mason course of study, you might want to refer to the book Teaching Children by Diane Lopez. This book was written to serve as a curriculum guide, giving you direction as to what children should learn each year through the sixth grade. Or, you may have purchased a set curriculum for your fourth grader and are simply following the established course of study. Whatever approach you take, as a general rule, by the end of the school year, your child should be able to:
- Acquire and use new vocabulary
- Identify synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms
- Read fluently
- Identify the main conflict in a story
- Identify the speaker or narrator in a story
- Compare and contrast the characters, settings, and events in a story
- Use strategies for planning and organizing writing ideas
- Write and revise a rough draft
- Write simple and compound sentences
- Use dialog in a story
- Use periods, question marks, exclamation points, commas, colons, and quotation marks correctly
- Use paragraph breaks
- Use nouns, action verbs, adjectives, personal pronouns, and conjunctions in simple sentences
- Spell high-frequency words correctly
- Write a narrative that includes a setting, plot, characters, and sensory details
- Write an expository paragraph that includes a topic sentence and supporting sentences with relevant details
- Write a persuasive paragraph that attempts to persuade the reader
- Write whole numbers, fractions, percents, and decimals
- Add and subtract decimals through 100ths
- Know multiplication and division facts through 12
- Create and solve one-step equations using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division
- Measure length, capacity, and mass using metric units
Of course, this is not a complete list. As your child moves up from one grade to the next, there will be more information for you to cover each year. The fourth grade year is no exception. However, remember that your child is still young; she still enjoys the hands-on activities that make learning fun. If you find the task of schooling her becoming overwhelming, however, you might want to consider a University Model School.
University Model Schools are schools set up for homeschoolers — schools where students can go to take a few classes taught by someone other than their parents. For the smallest students, enrichment classes such as art and music are offered, while for older elementary students like your fourth grader, academic classes are often added, such as Grammar or Geography. Middle school and high school students can take upper-level math and science courses including Algebra II, Geometry, Biology, and Chemistry.
Enrolling in classes at a University Model School is much like enrolling in a university. Students can choose the classes they want to take from the ones offered; there’s not an established student schedule. Students attending a University Model School are in class two or three days a week, depending on the classes they choose. Parents are involved as they help with class homework as well as teaching all the other subjects at home.
Why choose a University Model School for your child? These schools have a number of advantages. Children can sign up for classes that the parent doesn’t feel they have enough experience to teach, whether they be enrichment classes like painting and creative writing or academic classes such as Physics or Economics. They can also sign up for subjects that require a larger group, such as P.E. or chorus. Also, because the teachers and not the parents give the students the assignments, students become accountable to someone else for their grades. Older children learn to meet deadlines and be responsible for their work, a skill they’ll need in college and even when they’re out of school. University Model Schools also offer opportunities to meet other homeschoolers and establish friendships.
If there’s not a University Model School in your area, you may find a co-op that operates in a similar way. But remember, you don’t have to have your children attend one of these schools to homeschool your fourth-grader effectively. A University Model School is just one more option available to parents who want to teach their children at home. If the approach you’re using isn’t working, try different ones until you find the one that works best for you and your child — and enjoy the fourth-grade year!
Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell
Photo from Wesley Fryer