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What to expect in fourth grade

Learn about what to expect for your child in fourth grade.

By Miriam Myers

In your child's classroom

It is important that your child enters fourth grade reading at grade level with solid comprehension skills. He will be reading across the curriculum in all subjects and will be expected to have a deep understanding of what he reads.

In math your child will be adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing large whole numbers. She will also be working with decimals and fractions. She will have more homework, book reports and research projects.

Tonya Breland, our teacher consultant explains: "Fourth grade is an exciting time for children to become more responsible and take greater ownership of their learning. Teachers will expect more from your fourth-grader and give him more opportunities to work independently and in groups. You can encourage your child to participate in extra curricular activities during the summer to prepare him to work as a team with other children."

To prepare for fourth grade, have your child join the library summer reading program or form a neighborhood book club. For math, do cooking projects that require measuring fractional amounts. Continue to teach your child responsibility. Have your child learn to wake up to an alarm clock each morning.

Every child passes through a range of social, academic and developmental stages at his own pace. Below are some guidelines about what to look forward to in the year ahead.

Physical and social skills you can expect of your fourth grader:

  • Make more decisions and engage in group decision-making
  • Want to be part of a group
  • Think independently and critically
  • Have empathy
  • Show a strong sense of responsibility

Academic skills you can expect of your fourth grader:

  • Be able to memorize and recite facts, although she may not have a deep understanding of them
  • Increase the amount of detail in drawings
  • Work on research projects
  • Write a structured paragraph with an introductory topic sentence, three supporting details and a closing sentence that wraps up the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Write a five-paragraph paper
  • Use a range of strategies when drawing meaning from text, such as prediction, connections and inference
  • Understand cause and effect relationships
  • Add and subtract decimals, and compare decimals and fractions
  • Multiply multi-digit numbers by two-digit numbers (26 x 5,348)
  • Divide larger multi-digit numbers by one-digit numbers (1215 / 3)
  • Determine the area of two-dimensional shapes
  • Have a greater understanding of the concept of fairness

Learn more about where your child should be at the end of third grade.

Comments from readers

"she going enjoy going her what if some people dont know how do big number math in 4th grade do you prpvide tutors? "
"Wow my daughter can memorize anything! This year will be great! "
"Why would any grade want a child to memorize something they do not understand? Maybe this is why our schools do so poorly comapred to those in other countries!!! "
"my child is just entering 4th grade and is being taught science, such as cells, mitochondria, cytoplasm, cytophyll, and was told he should know all about this subject by his teacher (4 weeks) This is way over his head?"
"This is so scarey. My daughter's 3 grade teacher didn't focus on multiplication much. 4th is going to be a tough one I think."
"I am a 4th grade teacher and I noticed that parents are getting very concerned over this list. Don't be. You child will know the things on this list by the middle and end of 4th grade. What you can help with now is to just keep them reading and writing. Have them write to a penpal in the family such as Aunt Lois from another state that has interesting activities they can research and write about together. Then its fun, and they get to know Aunt Lois a little better! "
"While I appreciate the suggestions for fourth grade expectations, there are a number of us who have children who cannot, at this level write a paragraph with a 'topic sentence' or a conclusion. In fact, that is quite advanced for 4th graders, especially in a public school setting. What advice do you have for those of us with 4th grade level children who are not quite at the level described?"
"Thanks for this. I'm doing a home school strategy with my soon-to-be 4th grader, and there are quite a few technical texts on this topic. I'd be interested to see any suggested summer curriculum ideas. I'm insisting that he keep a Daily Writing Journal this summer and I have a fairly extensive reading regimen lined up. There's also a fine line between demanding too much and too little. Thanks again. "
"Are the academic skills listed here based on the 'no child left behind' benchmarks? They seem behind the California standards for 4th grade. My child covered most of this in 3rd grade in a pubilc school that follows the state standard pretty strictly."
"I wanted to personal thank you for good information that you has give me . Thank you."
"I prefer it when you use 'she' as well as 'he' throughout the article when referring to the child in abstract, or perhaps some other gender-indeterminate construction. For obvious reasons. Thank you."
"I am reading this as a 4th grade teacher. I would love every parent to read this page. I am glad that social expectations are included at a time when the importance of them is minimized and overshadowed by test scores in the '3 R's'. The only comment I have about specific content on the page is that there is no reason why students shouldn't have a deep understanding, in addition to memorizing and reciting, of facts. That understanding can actually help students to remember the facts."