Signs of Learning Trouble in Fourth Grade

Boy bored with homework
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Fourth grade is a year when children are expected to take on new challenges, both socially and academically, and it's important to be on the lookout for signs of trouble in either of these realms. Signs of trouble in fourth grade vary depending on your child's development, but if your child is consistently showing some of these signs, it's a good idea to check in with their teacher or pediatrician for a closer look at what's going on.

Signs Your Child May Have Trouble

  • Can't handle and work with fact families automatically.
  • Can't react to other students and staff in an appropriate manner and follow basic behavioral rules.
  • Can't organize their time to study for tests and complete homework, including long-term projects.
  • Can't write legibly, either in print or in cursive.

Your Child May Need Further Evaluation With the Following

  • Continues to have an awkward or uncomfortable pencil grasp. Often students with a poor grasp will complain of their hands "getting tired" or "hurting" after an extended period of writing.
  • Avoids tasks that require writing or drawing.
  • Consistently speaks too loudly or too softly.
  • Is unable to repeat directions that have just been given or retell a story that has just been read.
  • Cannot stay on topic when speaking and uses the wrong words in their speech, either due to grammar errors or not knowing the meaning of how to use a specific word.
  • Mispronounces words, drops or inverts syllables when talking. For example, says "fustrated" or "supposably" instead of "frustrated" and "supposedly".
  • Doesn't understand how to use or interpret idioms, metaphors, or similes.
  • Is a non-fluent reader.
  • Cannot grasp or identify basic themes and ideas when reading or listening to a story.
  • Doesn't use cues to work out unfamiliar words in text and prefers to guess at them instead.
  • Isn't able to self-correct or proofread their own work for spelling errors, messy writing, incorrect grammar, or punctuation.
  • Writes in disorganized, unconnected thoughts and paragraphs and shows difficulty outlining those thoughts.
  • Struggles to learn basic multiplication and division facts.
  • Doesn't align math problems (tens, ones, etc.) correctly, resulting in incorrect computation.
  • Cannot seem to verbally express their feelings.
  • Doesn't "get to the point" when they talk. Their sentences may often be filled with many irrelevant details that they seem unable to omit.
  • Is consistently doubtful or disparaging of their strengths and abilities.

Signs of trouble can also be seen in earlier grades such as in second grade and third grade.

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  1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are some signs of learning disabilities? Updated September 11, 2018.

  2. Abikoff H, Gallagher R, Wells KC, et al. Remediating organizational functioning in children with ADHD: immediate and long-term effects from a randomized controlled trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2013;81(1):113-28. doi:10.1037/a0029648

  3. Common Core State Standards Initiative. English Language Arts Standards: Grade 4. 2020.

  4. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Standards for Mathematical Practice: Grade 4. 2020.