Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yule








Yule is a celebration of the Winter Solstice. It is the longest night of the year. On this day, Usually December 20, 21, or 22, the year begins to turn back toward warmth and renewal. I know this is not what you usually think of when you think of this long night. For most of us, it is the first day of Winter. The first day of cold, cold days and nights. The beginning of the season of snow and ice and all things cold. But from this day forward, each day will begin to get a tiny bit longer. And each night will be just a tiny bit shorter.

I have always thought of winter as a dark, dreary time in which all life ends. The trees have lost their leaves, all the outside plants have died and the world looks bleak. While it looks that way in the world around us, there is a whole world under the ground that is just beginning to wake up. The tiny seeds that are buried are beginning to sprout. They are sending down roots deep into the soil. And the tiniest of sprouts are beginning to creep up ready to break through the ground in the Spring.

As we approach this dark time, we should finish up all those little projects that have gone by the wayside. We spend a lot more time indoors this time of year. We spend more time with ourselves. But this is not just a quiet dark time for us either. This is the time when we begin planning what we are going to do when the warmer weather arrives. We like to play Nature Games to remind us that it will soon be warm. We plan what we are going to plant in our gardens in the Spring. We start going through vacation brochures to decide where we will go on our next vacation. The tiny sprouts of dreams and plans and goals begin to grow toward the surface.










Instead of whining about the cold and the snow this Winter, celebrate the new beginnings that you will soon face. Enjoy, relax, grow, Spring is coming.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fourth grade math: There IS an order to things

Fourth grade Math: There IS an order to things

I heard a middle school math teacher say one time that the most important skill elementary school students could learn was fractions. She said that if students came to her with a basic understanding of addition and subtraction of fractions, working with mixed fractions, and equivalent fractions then her life was easier, and the children were well on their way to being able to do algebra and geometry. I just thought it was a personal opinion of that teacher until my own child was in fourth grade. My daughter talked me into doing the geometry chapter before the fraction and algebra chapters in her math curriculum. I wondered why she was struggling so hard then I realized that I was having to spend extra time on each new set of problems explaining, how to do the algebra part of the problem, or the fraction part of the problem. We tried backing up to the algebra chapter, and realized a few assignments in that we needed more information on fractions. We backed up to the fraction chapter, and it was pretty easy since we had already seen fractions in the algebra and geometry chapters. Maybe there is some truth to the middle school math teacher’s wish for students well versed in fractions. Once we got the basics of fractions learned, the rest of the math went so much easier. I know there are many math curricula out there, and they may not all do math topics in the same order, but considering how important fractions are to math, it might not be a bad idea to make sure that your fourth grader is getting a good foundation in fractions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More fourth grade science

Fourth grade science

Your fourth grader probably began to study science last year. For many students, fourth grade is the first year when there is actually a full year course in science. Because of that a lot more information is covered in fourth grade than in previous years. This is a good thing because fourth graders are curious, and are more interested in the world around them. Topics that will be covered in the fourth grade science might include the basics of weather, the functions of the bodies various systems, plant and animal cells, the water cycle, and the scientific method. Fourth graders like to be hands on in their study of science. They love to experiment with magnets, and circuits. If you haven’t added a microscope to your child’s hands-on tools yet, you might want to consider one, and a telescope, also. To add to the fun of fourth grade science check to see if there is a local astronomy club, or arts and science museum. Either of those type of places would probably have some great hands on things for your budding scientist to try. You might also consider checking out local zoos, parks, or nature centers. Sometimes they have great weekend classes or holiday camps to add to your child’s science education. Don’t forget to check online for videos and experiments to try at home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fourth grade foreign language

Fourth grade: Foreign language

Are you bilingual? If you are, when did you gain that ability? Did you learn at home, at the knee of a grandmother, or parent? Or did you gain that ability through lots of late hours and college language labs? I got a little bit of foreign language from both methods. My grandmother was my daytime sitter when I was very young. Spanish was spoken by most of the adults in and around her home, so I was exposed to hearing the pronunciation and to very basic vocabulary as a child. But we did not speak Spanish at home because my father made a decision when he came to the U.S. that English was the language of the country and therefore what we would learn to speak. As I got older and had to learn Spanish in school I realized that it would have been a lot easier if I had learned it at a younger age. I did have a good grasp on the pronunciation part of it because of the early exposure to the language, but the vocabulary and syntax were terrible to learn as an adult. As the world seems to grow smaller with the internet and 24 hour news cycles, our children will have more need of a foreign language than perhaps we do. For better or worse, by high school they will need to be studying another language besides English. Children have an amazing ability to accept new languages, it has something to do with the fact that pathways in their brains are still easily forming. We should not over look the opportunity to get our fourth graders started in foreign language study, even if they have not started to this point. There is a free language program offered by many public libraries, so check that out. Additionally, community centers and sometimes churches offer foreign languages for little or no cost. If you do not already have a second language, then maybe it can be a family study. Don’t forget that you can add history, social studies, geography, and other subjects to that language study to make it more interesting. It is not too late, jump on in!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Art, art, art...

Fourth grade: Art

We’ve talked a lot about social studies and language arts, but there is another subject in fourth grade that we don’t need to overlook. In a lot of school systems art is being cut, either entirely or at least to the bare bones. In a time when everyone from parents to school administrators is looking for higher test scores and cost cutting measures, art often gets the short end of the deal. If you are home educating then this is one of those places where you can give your child a better shot at participating in art than they might get in school. Art is important to your fourth grader for many reason, not the least of which is that it is fun. Another reason to include art in your child’s curriculum is that there are studies that show that students who are exposed to art, and allowed to participate in it , do better academically. And there are many forms of art to choose from. Art is everything from drawing with a pencil in a notebook, to painting on a canvas, to sculpting with clay, to making crafts with common, everyday items. Art is not just the hands on part of art, but it also can include studies of famous artists such as Monet and da Vinci. . Many of the classical pieces of art have historical as well as artistic importance and so should be studied and recognized for their historical significance. There are several very good art appreciation type programs online to help you expand your child’s art curriculum.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cursive writing and keyboarding

Fourth grade language arts: Cursive Writing and keyboarding

Fourth grade is an exciting year because the things that our children have learned to this point all start coming together. They are reading better, and writing better. Most of their written work will be done in cursive writing. While they probably learned to write in cursive in the third grade, they were not proficient at it, and it was still a very slow process. With the fourth grade year they will get better at cursive, faster, and more comfortable with it. And they will get many opportunities to polish their handwriting. Journals are one way to allow them to practice their penmanship. Writing the three main types of paragraphs will also give them practice. As time marches on, so does technology. Not surprisingly, some portion of your fourth graders writing will be done on the keyboard, utilizing the word processor. At our house I have exposed my child to both cursive writing and to keyboarding. She is not great at either one yet, but I saw large leaps in her fluency with cursive and her competency in keyboarding. During her fourth grade years. If your child needs extra practice with cursive, you will find many sites that offer worksheets in the various forms of cursive penmanship. Some even offer “copy work” in topics from famous quotes to Biblical references. Many of those are free. As for keyboarding, you can either purchase a typing program aimed specifically at kids, or you can find several sites online that provide games that will give your child the basic practice to learn the positions of letters and numbers, as well as drills to increase speed and accuracy. It looks like keyboarding is here to stay, but penmanship is not yet obsolete. If your child doesn’t yet have a working knowledge of both forms of expression, fourth grade is the year you will see this happen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fourth grade social studies: Branches of government

Fourth grade social studies: Branches of Government

Ah, the workings of government! The fourth grade year is the year when our children begin to learn the way our government works and why it is unique in the world. Without entering into a political conversation, or a debate of the merits or pitfalls of our way of government, it is important that our children understand the basics of its structure. The Founding Fathers, drawing on their experience with the British government decided that the United States needed a strong government, but one that could not get out of hand. To that end, they developed a set of checks and balances that would keep any one part of the government from overstepping its bounds. The way they hoped to accomplish that was to divide the main government into three separate but equal branches. The executive branch consisted of the President and the Vice-president. The legislative branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court. For our forth graders, the most important part of this is that it was no accident that our government was set up that way, and that we were the first country in the world to ever set up a government in such a way. There are several places on the internet that detail the functions of each branch, and how the three branches balance each other. Good luck with this study.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fourth grade language arts: Spelling can be fun!

Fourth grade language arts: Spelling can be fun!

By fourth grade you and your child have probably gotten a routine down to help with spelling. The words get harder in fourth grade, of course. Depending on your curriculum, spelling can either be a separate subject, or be considered part of language arts, along with vocabulary. I haven’t spoken much about games to this point, but here is the place where I tell you that making things fun makes things easier. At our house we have always had a little bit of trouble with spelling, and in fourth grade it became very evident. We had lots of tears and lots of fights. I began to seriously consider that my child had some learning disability associated with spelling. Then a fellow homeschooler asked if I let my daughter play games to spell. I let her play games for math, but with spelling I just never considered it. We began to play games with the spelling words online. It eased the tension associated with spelling, and as the tension eased, so did the block that had been in our path. I won’t tell you that spelling became easy, but it did become doable. Playing spelling games has just further confirmed to me that the more fun learning is the more successful it will be.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fourth grade science: The Water Cycle

Fourth grade science: The Water Cycle

My child loved learning the water cycle in fourth grade. It gave her a great sense of accomplishment to be able to tell me the steps a drop of water went through. Your fourth grader will probably enjoy learning about this cycle, too. It is so orderly, and so logical that children seem to “get it” after only a little bit of explanation. Did you know that there is no “new” water? Theoretically, all the water on the planet is all the water that was originally formed. Water just undergoes a change of state and is infinitely recycled. There are four steps in the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Many times the description of the water cycle for fourth graders is condensed a bit, including only evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Evaporation is the process by which heat from the sun causes liquid water to go from its liquid state to a gaseous state, to water vapor. Then this water vapor cools as it rises in the atmosphere. At some point the water returns to is liquid form. This process is condensation. The water is then too heavy to remain in the atmosphere and falls to the earth as rain, or snow, depending on the temperature. This is the precipitation phase. Collection, if included in the lesson, is simply the water flowing back through streams and rivers, until it finally collects in the large bodies of water, such as lakes and oceans. There is an experiment that you can perform in your own kitchen to help your child understand the water cycle. In a pot on the stove, heat up water until it turns to steam. Place a glass lid on the pot and remove from heat. The steam will condense on the lid as it cools, returning to the liquid form, then dripping back into the main body of water in the pot as mini-precipitation. I can assure you that the hands on experiment will help your child remember the order and process of the water cycle.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fourth grade language arts: Research tools

Fourth grade language arts: Research tools
Fourth graders, in general, have become decent readers. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but at this point many children are enjoying chapter books and have begun to research their own interests. I have personally witnessed my own child search the internet, and look for books in the library that interest her. This is a trait that should be fostered in all fourth grade readers. As we ask more of them in their writing, they will need more information to have subject matter to write about. Fourth graders should be able to use numerous research tools such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, internet search engines, and library data bases in search of books on topics of interest. Make sure you child is familiar with the lay out of your local library, and help him figure out the process to look up a book title and then locate it within the library. Encyclopedias in book form are quickly going the way of the dodo bird, but replacing them are internet encyclopedias and the internet itself. There is so much more information available to our children than we had, and it is important that we insure that they know how to safely utilize this abundance of information and research material. A special note here, many fourth graders are not yet accomplished spellers, so you might want to double check their internet search terms. One misplaced letter in a search could expose your child to something inappropriate for their age and maturity level.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fourth grade emotional and psychological: Right and Wrong

Fourth grade emotional and psychological: Right and Wrong
By the time your child is nine or ten, fourth grade in most instances, it is reasonable to be able to expect that he knows the difference between right and wrong. That being said, it is important to remember that your child’s moral compass is not flawless at this point. What you should be looking for is his ability to make clear cut right and wrong decisions. It is right to help a friend pick up his room after they played there all afternoon. It is wrong to take money out of your wallet, or to write on the wall. Additionally, the ability to discern right and wrong should be getting better all the time. It is reasonable to hold your child accountable for the most obvious choices, choices between the black and the white. Where the choice is not so clear whether something is right or wrong, where there are gray areas, these are the places that allow you to express your opinions. Lecturing a child at this age might not be as useful as earnest discussions that will help your child make responsible decisions. Additionally, allowing discussions will help keep the lines of communication open , and as your child approaches the ‘tweens and teen years you will be glad those lines were maintained.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fourth grade science: Planets and their characteristics

Fourth grade science: Planets and their characteristics
One of the things your fourth grader will need to accomplish during this year of school is the ability to identify the planets of our solar system and to identify characteristics of each planet. To help your child do this you will want to help them learn the planets in order from the Sun on out. There are several mnemonic devices that will help your student. The most common is, “My Very Earnest Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas”, which of course represents the planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Depending on the age of the science curriculum you are using with your child, Pluto may or may not be included in the planet list. In 2006, astronomers demoted it from planetary status but it is still included in some curriculum that hasn’t been updated. For the purpose of the mnemonic, there is no reason not to include Pluto, as long as your child understands Pluto’s status. Or if you are feeling creative, you could coin a mnemonic that listed the eight planets. Besides the order of the planets, your child should also learn several characteristics of each planet that will help them identify the planet visually, and help group it with other planets of its type, for example, the gas giants. One other thing that will help your child remember order and visual characteristics of the planets is to allow her to build a mobile. If you can find one that has not been painted yet, it is a great way to get a little bit of art while learning science.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fourth grade language: Creative writing

Fourth grade language arts: Creative writing
Where writing is concerned we have already looked at persuasive paragraphs which are used to convince the reader about something, and informative paragraphs, which are intended to teach or inform. The third type of paragraph your fourth grader will need to know how to write is the creative or narrative type of paragraph. These paragraphs tell a story and are often the type of paragraphs that have been encouraged in journal writing to this point. Your child will be expected to tell a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The paragraph usually flows in a chronological order. By being creative in nature they are not usually factual, but can be. Sometimes these type of paragraphs have topics like, “What I did on my summer vacation”. Other times these paragraphs will be complete fictional. This is the case with stories. Creative writing is the opportunity for your child to spread their wings and expand their abilities. To make creative paragraphs more interesting it is important that your child use adjectives, adverbs, metaphors, descriptive phrases, and other writing devices. While there is a formula to this type of writing it is usually less strict than other forms of paragraphs we have discussed already. Help your child have fun with this form of writing by encouraging them to try devices they don’t usually use.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fourth grade language arts: Informative paragraph

Fourth grade language arts: Informative paragraph
Your fourth grade student will be expected to be able to write three different types of paragraphs. One of those is the informative paragraph. The most important part of on informative paragraph is the relaying of information. One way for you student to begin this assignment is to take the topic given them and brainstorm as much as they know about the subject. Have them write a list of what they know. If the list of what they know regarding a certain topic is a little short, then have them research the topic, either through books, or the internet. Then it is time for the student to begin writing. The first sentence should basically identify what the paragraph will be about. The center two to four sentences should tell about the facts your child knew or researched. It is important that your child use factual information and stick to the topic. Finally, the conclusion sentence will draw the information all together. Informative paragraphs are about sharing information. It is possible to expand this format to learn how to write the informative essay, which is from three to five paragraphs long for this age group. The first paragraph will introduce the reader to the topic, the interim paragraphs will each contain a fact and supportive evidence, and the final paragraph will pull the other paragraphs together in conclusion. Best of luck with this endeavor!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fourth grade math: Identifying numbers to 100,000

Fourth grade math: Identifying numbers up to 100,000.
Continuing on the idea of what your fourth grader will be expected to accomplish during this school year, it will by necessary for your child to be able to identify numbers to the 6th place or 100,000. One of the ways that we worked on this at our house was to make place value charts. To do this we created boxes for each place value, and labeled the place value on top of each box. I would then write a number on a piece of paper and hand it to my child. Her assignment was to place each number of that number into the appropriate box. I asked her to speak the numbers out loud. This many sound complicated, but without giving you a chart I will try to show you what I mean. I would give my child a number like 345,678. Her job was to identify each number and place it in the appropriate box. “Eight will go in the ones place box, seven will go in the tens place box.” After all numbers were placed, I would ask her to use the labels above the boxes to read the number to me. It is more complicated in explanation than it is in real life, trust me! Some parents use tokens, or beads as place holders, and to show when you move from ones place to tens place, and so on. I did read in one place not to use coins since they already have a value assigned to them, sometimes the children get the value of the coin and the place value it is representing confused. Good luck with place values.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fourth grade math: Multiplication

Fourth grade math: Multiplication
There are not a lot of surprises in fourth grade math. It is no surprise that your child will continue to work with multiplication. The difference between what your child may have learned in third grade and what is expected of them in fourth grade is that the problems will contain larger numbers. For example, you child will be expected to multiply three, four, or five digit numbers by two digit numbers. Don’t be discouraged if your child didn’t seem to get multiplication tables in third grade. Fourth grade will give them a new chance to get those multiplication tables packed down. Even though multiplication is started in third grade, many students don’t seem to catch on, or truly understand multiplication until later. This poses a problem for students in public school, but for children in homeschool situations parent/teachers are able to put in the extra one-on-one time with their students. One way to help your child pack down those multiplication facts is to let them play online games that will let them practice in a fun environment. Improving the fun level and easing the pressure of learning the multiplication tables, along with a little bit more maturity often means that fourth grade is the year that multiplication begins to make sense to your child.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fourth grade language arts: writing persuasive paragraphs

Writing paragraphs: Persuasive

By fourth grade your child will be expected to write paragraphs. He will even be expected to write the five paragraph essay by the end of fourth grade. The first type of paragraph, and eventually essay, that your child will be expected to write is the persuasive paragraph. Writing a persuasive paragraph is not as hard as you might think. The purpose of it is to convince others about the subject of the paragraph. It is possible to see persuasive writing in a lot of places. Commercials are an example of persuasive writing. There is a sort of formula to persuasive writing. Your student will state an issue, say to convince the city to improve a local park. Then your student will state factual reasons why the park should be improved. There should be more than one reason and those reasons should not be opinion. For example, the student could state that neighborhoods that surround parks that are improved and well maintained have lower crime rates. The student would have had to do research to be able to make that statement, research that would show the connection. Finally, the student would leave the reader of the paragraph with either an action item, something to go and do, or a persuasive thought, and idea that would encourage the reader to think more on, and to consider the proposed idea. This method will work for a paragraph or a five paragraph essay.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Independence!

Independence!
Have you discovered your fourth grader becoming more independent? It would be great if that happened over night, wouldn’t it? Well, maybe not. Your fourth grader becoming more independent is a learning and growing process. Just like your baby “cruised” along the furniture, then held your fingers and toddled, then let go and took tentative stops, walked and then ran. Independence is a lot like that. Your child will want to do a few things on their own. It is not a clear step from total dependence on parents to being independent. It is important that your fourth grader has friends outside the home, because those friends will be the ones who help your child to take step away from parents and toward the world. For many children, up until about the fourth grade, their friends were their friends, and gender was not important. Around the fourth grade year, it becomes more important that your child have friends of the same gender. Around this age some children begin to see the very first beginnings of the onset of puberty. With that comes interests, similarities and differences that make having friends of the same gender more comfortable, and friends of the opposite gender more awkward. It is all a normal part of the road to independence.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reading is Important

Reading is important

Did you read to your child when she was younger? Many parents begin reading bedtime stories to their babies at a very early age. Those same parents continue that activity as their young child is learning to read. Then at some point, we stop reading to our children. There are a lot of reasons for this. By fourth grade there are many after school activities, such as sports and music lessons. There are also more social obligations for fourth graders, including things such as birthday parties and getting together with friends for movies and things. Afternoons and evenings get eaten up with homework, and the mad rush to bedtime, so that we can begin the whole race again, bright and early tomorrow. Sometimes it is our children who think that being read to is for babies. At fourth grade, they may say that, but since they are not completely independent of parents, secretly they may still want the time together. Reading, and the bonding time that it allows is important. Let your child see you read, let them know that it means something to you. Encourage your child to read on their own, too. By fostering a love of books and reading early, we are encouraging our children to be lifelong learners and that is a good thing to be!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Peer pressure, part 2

Helping your fourth grader deal with peer pressure, part 2.

Last time we talked about things you could do to help your child deal with peer pressure. While you can speak to other parents, know your child’s friends, make your house a meeting place, and provide your child with group activities that are guided by morals you want your child to learn, ultimately your child is the one “in the trenches”. It is not the times that your child is right under your nose that he will have to deal with peer pressure. It is always the times when they are not under your direct influence that will be the most pressure inducing. The answer to this is to teach your child how to deal directly with peer pressure. You have heard the old adage that says, basically, to teach your child what is right, and they will remember it as they get older. If your child knows what you consider the right thing to do, and what is acceptable within the family, then it is easier for them to take that knowledge and use it as armor against those people who might lead them down a path that will get them in trouble. Teach your child to say , “No”. And let them know that it is always alright for them to use you as an excuse if they don’t want to do something, or feel uncomfortable with something. Let them know it is okay to say, “No, I am not going to do that, my Mom would have a fit!” Give your child an out, and let them know that you will come and get them from any and all situations that feel wrong or uncomfortable, no questions asked. Oh, and one other thing, be open to talk to your child, not just preach at them, or do all the teaching. Be willing to hear how they feel about things.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Peer pressure, part 1

Helping your fourth grader deal with peer pressure, part 1.

Peer pressure. Growing up my parents told me stories of how they dealt with peer pressure. I will tell you that I think peer pressure started earlier for me than it did for my parents. Our children deal with the pressure of it even earlier. Maybe there were some things from our parents and grandparents that we can learn to help our children deal. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean. In the “old days” the parents spoke to other parents. They knew the parents of the child’s friends. Old time parents (not that many generations back!) knew their child’s friends, too. All of that knowledge meant that parents kept their children away from as many bad influences as possible. Of course, I am not thinking that anyone lives in Mayberry anymore, but knowing your child’s friends and the friend’s parents is a great way to help your child avoid peer pressure. Another example we can take from our parents and grandparents is to make your house the gathering place. If your child and his friends are hanging out at your house, you are more able to keep tabs on any pressure or bullying that might happen. Other things that you can do is to help your child get involved with groups of children that are providing for the building of moral character. It doesn’t have to be a religious group to be a group that has a strong moral compass.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Geography of United States

4th grade Geography of the United States

Another thing that your child will probably study in the fourth grade year is the geography of the United States. Much like the history of the student’s home state, geography of the United States can be a whole bunch of memorization. It can be so much more, however. Beyond the normal learning of the states names, and capitals, there is learning the position of each state geographically, it’s neighbors, and general topography. Once your child has gotten the basics down, then is a time to get more adventurous in learning about the geography of the United States. America is an incredibly diverse country geographically. We have coasts on three major bodies of water, there are numerous mountain ranges, and unique features such as the Grand Canyon, and Niagara Falls. With access to the internet, it is possible to go on video tours of major land forms like the Rocky Mountains, and virtually visit places such as the volcanoes of Hawaii. Geography does not have to be a boring subject. Use some imagination and treat yourself and your child to some great views. Take the study of the geography of the U.S. into other subjects, like history and geology. The more engaging the study is, the more your child will remember.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fourth Grade Social Studies: History of the Home State

Fourth Grade Social Studies: History of the Home State

For many public and private school students, fourth grade is the year they study their home state. Homeschool students do not necessarily learn about their home state in fourth grade, but is as good a year as any to begin that study. During the year your child will need to learn the most basic facts about the state, such as its location within the United States, the capital, and largest cities, population, and the date that it was admitted to the union. That information is pretty dry though, and really is just memorization of facts. Once they know the basics, your child may want to undergo a deeper and more exciting study of the state that she lives in. Here is where it can get very interesting and be a lot of fun. Do some research into historical sites, national parks and monuments within the state. Let your child do some research. Find the most interesting, or notorious or most recognized thing about your state. Take field trips to museums, and the state capital. See your state like a tourist would see it. Sometimes tourists know more about our own state than we do. Make studying their home state more than just a social studies lesson, make it fun, a project to undertake for a whole year. Make the whole thing a grand adventure and share in the enjoyment that that adventure creates. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fourth grade: Beginning the Adventure

Fourth grade: Beginning the Adventure
Fourth grade. Wow! Did you think when you first looked at your baby, that you would be thinking about what fourth grade would mean for him or her? I know that I didn’t think about fourth grade until, well, fourth grade. Every year, from now until they graduate from high school we are going to see amazing changes. Fourth grade is one of the years where you see big changes not just in your child, but in the curriculum. Physically, your child, at around 9 years of age, is entering a phase where they may be noticing the first hints of puberty. With these physical changes come some emotional changes as well. Your child may be becoming more independent. He or she may be making new friends, and different types of friendships. As for academics, well, expect for the work to become a bit harder in preparation for entering middle school. Your child will be expected to retain the information from previous years and to work more independently. In many states there is standardized testing near the end of fourth grade, and this will mean that in addition to the normal work load, there is the added time and attention spent on test preparation. Stay tuned for more information and discussion on the fourth grade year!