What Do Kids Learn in 4th Grade?

Little boy and teacher looking at a large clock

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Grade school is a fast-paced time of learning as well as developing social and cognitive skills. By fourth grade, children will have gotten the hang of the routines and rhythm of school and will be taking on the challenges of learning increasingly-difficult material in different subjects in school.

Kids learn a number of new things in 4th grade, both socially and academically. Just as the formation of cliques begins to increase and complicate your child's social life, the academic ante is upped as well, requiring your child to not only be responsible for their own work, but to learn how to work in groups as well. This year is typically the genesis of the too-heavy backpack, as each subject in 4th grade usually has its own book and notebook.

Skills and Topics Commonly Learned by 4th Graders

Curriculum varies from state to state and by school district, but many of the skills and topics kids learn in 4th grade are the same.

Math

This year in math, your fourth grader will start learning the processes on which the more complicated branches of math are based. In third grade, the focus was on number sense and patterns. This year, your child will learn to use those patterns to find the factors and multiples of numbers, to convert and calculate units of measure (for example, figure out how many minutes in one and a half hours) and to work with fractions.

By the end of the fourth-grade year, your child should be able to add and subtract fractions, recognize equivalent and non-equivalent fractions, know the characteristics of lines and angles and feel comfortable analyzing, collecting, organizing and presenting data.

Reading

Your fourth grader will begin to branch out a bit in reading. They'll work on gaining a more sophisticated vocabulary, beginning to look at word roots, prefixes and suffixes to figure out unfamiliar words and to associate them with words they already know.

They'll read a variety of new genres including myths and legends, folk tales and fables, learning to connect characters' experiences with events in their own life. This year they will also read different types of non-fiction materials, including encyclopedias, reputable Internet sites, and books as they learn to effectively research a topic.

Writing

Fourth-grade writing is closely interconnected with reading. If reading fables and folk tales, your child is likely to be writing their own stories with themself as the hero. If it hasn't been before, writing is now a daily activity with a focus on using a variety of different types of punctuation to create sentences.

Your child will learn the proper use of quotations marks and the power of dialogue in a story, striving to develop their personal voice and writing style. They will also be taught to use research tools to create a coherent, detailed report.

Science

In science, students are ready to move on to looking at the scientific processes of classification of organisms, the arrangement of objects by properties, as well as measuring events. Topics they might explore this year include the motion of objects, electricity and circuits, fossils, meteorology, and inherited traits.

In learning about these different things, expect your 4th grader to begin asking many questions about the world around them, but try not to give them all the answers! Finding ways to answer their own questions is all part of the learning process.

Social Studies

In many states, the 4th grade social studies curriculum typically devotes a great deal of learning time to students' home state in addition to American history. If this is your state’s standard, your child will learn about the geographic features of their state, how they have changed over time, and what role industry and settlement may have played in those changes.

They may also learn the history and government of their state and might take field trips to visit the city or state government. By the end of the year, they should have a working knowledge of who's who and what role they play (or played) in creating the home in which they live.

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Article Sources
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  1. Ackerman S, Kloss K. Scholastic. The Guide to 4th Grade. July 3, 2019.

  2. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Grade 4 » Introduction. 2020.

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

  4. Common Core State Standards Initiative. English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Foundational Skills » Grade 4. 2020.

  5. Common Core Standards Initiative. English Language Arts Standards » Writing » Grade 4. 2020.

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  7. Next Generations Science Standards. 4th Grade. May 2013.