Tag Archives: reading

Ask Your 4th Grader!

In fourth grade children really get to apply the skills they have learned in the first few years of school.  If you think about kindergarten through 3rd grade as the time in which children are taught how to read; how to add, subtract and multiply; and how to begin to write paragraphs, then 4th grade becomes the time when they really get to apply those skills in order to expand their overall knowledge.

In light of this, what can you do to help your child acquire additional knowledge through the application of these basic skills, while making sure he or she is developing appropriately in this grade?


1.  Division- work with your child to solidify his or her skills in division. Ask your child to complete long division problems.  For example:  137 divided by 7.  Solving this problem will require your child to multiply, divide, and subtract in order to find the right answer, thus applying several skills in one activity.  You can ask the teacher for worksheets in this area or simply work with your child in this area when he or she is doing homework problems that require long division.

2.  Place Value- work with your child to make sure he or she understands place values. This concept is very important in future math subjects and it is therefore good for children to get off to a good start in understanding this topic.  For example:

The number 34.76

3 is in the tens place, 4 is in the ones place, 7 is in the tenths place, and 6 is in the hundreths place.

3.  Fractions- work with your child to make sure he or she understands how to add and subtract fractions with like denominators. For example:

1/3 + 1/3 = 2/3


1.  Reading on a 4th grade level.  Make sure your child can read on a 4th grade level or higher.  Many books have the age ranges and/or reading level for which the book is appropriate right on the back of the book, near the bottom.  Select books within your child’s grade/age range and determine if your child understands the content and can follow story.

2.  Unfamiliar words. Ask your child to read with you and observe whether or not your child tries to figure out words he or she doesn’t know by looking at the entire meaning of the sentence or by taking clues from the content in the material.  Finally look up words with your child; if they are new or difficult to understand.


1.  Writing a multi-paragraph report. Many children will be asked to do some type of assignment in the 4th grade that requires them to write a multi-paragraph composition.  Look out for such an assignment and work with your child to make sure she or he understands the rubric (i.e. the criteria the teacher has laid out that explains how the paper will be scored).  Usually the teacher will want an opening paragraph which states the topic of the report; a couple of paragraphs that explain the main ideas of the report; and a concluding paragraph that sums up everything.

These are a few things you can do to support your child in fourth grade.

Ask Your 5th Grader!

If you have a child entering into the 5th grade this year, you may want to check on a few skills to make sure your child is developing them as he or she progresses through the school year.  Fifth grade obviously prepares a child for 6th grade and middle school…

Many children who aren’t prepared to take algebra or pre-algebra in middle school fall behind in math during high school because it is hard to make up ground as you are trying to re-learn the fundamentals of math (i.e. division, fractions, basic operations, etc…) while also trying to learn geometry and algebra II.

Furthermore, if a child has not mastered basic concepts around structuring a paragraph and writing a report, while in middle school, it will be difficult for that child to excel in high school because almost every class could call for some type of writing assignment as a part of its requirements.  English, history, social studies, health, foreign languages, biology, chemistry, even math… might require different types of writing assignments during high school and middle school.

Therefore, as your child progresses through the 5th grade there may be a few skills you will want to make sure your child develops:

1.  Division

Ask your child’s teacher what your child will learn in math this year. Find out when the more difficult concepts will be taught.  For many children, dividing by double-digit numbers can be a challenge.  In the 5th grade a child should be able to divide by two digit numbers, without using a calculator (e.g. 967 ÷ 38 = 25.45).

Ask your child to complete several math problem requiring division by double digit numbers (e.g. 100 ÷ 47 = 2.13 or 500 ÷ 51 = 9.80). This will require your child to do long division, add, subtract, and work with decimals to get the answer.

This is a good way to “check” many of the fundamental skills taught in elementary school math thus far.  If your child is having difficulty, ask the teacher for additional worksheets and guidance about what you can do at home to support your child’s development.

2.  Fractions

Fractions are also an important part of development in math.  Ask your child to complete math problems with fractions. For example, adding and subtracting mixed numbers with common denominators:

6 ¼ + 4 ¼ = 10 ½  or 5 ¾ – 4 ¼ = 1 ½

3.  Writing

Children in 5th grade should be able to write a multi-paragraph report with a clear topic sentence, separate paragraphs to support their topic sentence, and a concluding paragraph.  This can be done about a topic they have researched, something they have read, or about a specific topic given to them like “Write a report about why our school should purchase new playground equipment.”  This should be done with a clear topic sentence and details to support the child’s opinion.

I have noticed that some elementary schools don’t require a lot of writing of children at this stage, while others do.

If your child’s class requires these types of writing assignments, follow up on these assignments with your child.  Check to see if your child is following the instructions.  Often there is a rubric, or guide, for what should be included and how it should be structured.  Read through the rubric and make sure your child understands it.  Many times these types of rubrics will be used by states, on state exams, to assess a child’s writing skills.

When it comes to standardized exams, often your child’s teacher might not even be the person grading your child’s writing assignments.  So it is important for your child to learn how to follow the rubrics (instructions) and to learn how to write an effective report.

If your child’s fifth grade class does not require these types of writing assignments, ask your child to complete them at home. Potential topics can be:  “The Perfect Day,” “Why My Parents Should Buy Me My Favorite Toy/Game,” or “Who is Your Favorite Person in History and Why?”  If you need help and guidance about how to structure these assignments some of the worksheets at Ten Things Your Child Should Know.com might be able to help.

4.  Reading

Reading is simply fundamental to just about everything we do and to just about everything your child will do in school.  You want your child to enjoy reading and you want your fifth grader to feel more and more confident about reading.  To that end:

Ask your child to read a book of about 150 pages or more. As children get older, more complex reading materials will be a part of their assignments in school.  As a matter of fact, we learn more and more from reading different types of material as we get older; while we are mostly “learning to read” when we are younger.

If your child is not a strong reader he or she will likely not do well in school.

These are a few of the skills you can work on with your child as he or she progresses through the fifth grade.