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.