Fourth grade is a year of significant change for young, growing learners, which makes it a great time to consider enrolling in a private school.
In the fourth grade, students are beginning to become self aware and to see themselves within the context of their environments. They know when their math or literacy skills are ahead of the curve, and also when they might not be the same as their friends’. Some students might see a surge in confidence during this year while others may experience emerging insecurities that prohibit them from asking questions.
That’s why it is important to ensure your fourth grader is set up for success. Between small class sizes, flexibility in curriculum design, and state-of-the-art resources, private schools are often equipped to capitalize on the enthusiasm, passion, and love for learning that is distinctive of this age.
Whether you live in a strong school district, didn’t envision sending your child to private school until high school, or you never even considered something outside of the public school world, it’s worth exploring your options before your child enters fourth grade.
A Culture That Embraces Failure and Fosters Independence
“Failure” is a scary word. But every successful innovator, business person, artist, and athlete experienced—and more importantly, learned from—failure. Jamie Ames, a fourth grade teacher at Fessenden, supports this notion. He says, “As educators and parents, we’re often reluctant to let kids fail. We think that they have to succeed at every stage in their journeys. That’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen. When kids can fail in confidence, they will learn more, go further, and become more successful.”
The fourth grade year at Fessenden is structured to introduce low-risk ways to enhance independence and create a safe space for failure. For example, Jamie asks parents at the beginning of the school year to allow students to be responsible for checking their own homework assignments—and for doing the necessary work to complete those assignments.
Though many parents like to play a more hands-on role when it comes to their child’s academic success, Jamie believes in the importance of student ownership in order to promote self- sufficiency.
Of this policy, one fourth grade parent writes, “It was hard at first, but I have been so happy with my son’s growth in this area. He is very organized and takes great pride in making sure that he gets all of his work completed before he begins his extracurricular activities.”
Preparation for Middle School and Beyond
Fourth graders grow in leaps and bounds, especially when it comes to executive function. During this time they develop critical skills like time management, the ability to multitask, and a greater capacity for remembering details. These skills come into play in middle school and beyond, and they are important for growing learners to practice.
Many fourth grade parents at Fessenden notice a greater focus on independence in their child’s schoolwork. One parent shares, “For the first time my son is engaged in world events and has found joy in reading. He generally loves learning and now he talks about school with us!” Can you ask for anything more?
While many public schools don’t begin middle school until sixth or seventh grade, students at Fessenden move from contained classrooms to a variety of teachers and elective courses in the fifth grade, giving them extra exposure and preparation. This increases independence that will set students up for success when they make the transition to a new environment. Here, the fourth grade year is all about balancing the need for hands-on guidance and support, while also getting children excited about taking ownership of their own learning.
You tell us.
What changes have you seen in your fourth grade student and what educational support has been most beneficial?