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A Fourth Grade Curriculum

Updated on March 14, 2011

Now that my daughter has started fourth grade, it's my job to keep up with what she is learning and to help her stay on track. I can't attend classes with her, but I can find out what she is supposed to be studying.

The first step is to find copies of all the textbooks. They all have rather generic names, as if they weren't written by an author, but are just a product put out by a publisher. Here is the list:

1) McGraw-Hill Science ISBN 0-02-280037-9

2) Scott Foresman Language

3) MacMillan/McGraw Treasures

4) MacMillan Math Connects

5) Scott Foresman Regions.

We are very lucky that Sword has a wonderful teacher this year, who has already been more than helpful. The Science book is new, and hard to find on-line, but we have been lent an extra copy by the teacher.

The Science Book

Access to Textbooks at Home

Back in the days when children would trudge alone, unaccompanied by adults, knee deep in snow to school and back, they had small McGuffey readers to carry with them. Today, the textbooks are gigantic and they weigh a ton. Clearly, the children aren't expected to carry them on their backs over rough terrain and long distances. But even for the short distances involved, to and from the car or bus, the backpacks we have don't seem to be designed to bear the weight. Last year, Sword's backpack was badly damaged by the bulk and weight of the textbooks she was expected to transport to and from school.

This year, we are using a different system. This year we will have duplicate copies of the textbooks at home. Sword won't have to carry a book home in order to complete a homework assignment. This will also mean that "I forgot my textbook" will not be a viable excuse. In addition, we can go over the material each day at home, even when there is no homework assigned.

Grade Level Expectations

Finding out what your child's textbooks are like, and what material they present, is only the beginning. As an informed parent, I also want to know what my daughter is expected to get out of this material. Two people can read a passage in a book and come away with remarkably different conclusions. I want my daughter to be a critical reader, but in school, another crucial skill is emphasized: learn to get the intended message.

When preparing my daughter to take a standardized test, I have to explain that she should consider two isssues when answering a multiple choice question:

(1) Which answer, if any, is true.

(2) Which answer, if any, does the person who wrote the test think is true.

I tell my daughter that if there is a conflict between the two, and she wishes to do well on the test, she should keep in mind the person who wrote the test. This is an exercise in theory of mind, and it plays a very important part in our successful negotiation of relationships in the work-a-day world.

In our state, the person who wrote the test is a government employee. So, in order to help my daughter understand that person, I visit webpages of the department of education and learn about their grade level expectations.

Extracurricular Activities that Require School Participation

In addition to making sure that my daughter is up to speed in all required assignments and that she meets grade level expectations, I will also look into extracurricular activities that will encourage her in those subjects where she excels. Sometimes it helps if the school where your child is enrolled joins a national competition.

Sword is a good speller. I want to encourage her to go beyond meeting her grade level expectations. It would be very good for her to be involved in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. However, this requires that the school become enrolled in the competition. The deadline for school enrollment is October 15, 2008, for purposes of the 2009 competition. Here below is a link to the Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition website.


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    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks, SweetiePie. Yes, this was a few grades ago, but I am still involved in my daughter's education. I agree with you about standardized tests. It's not just creativity that they stifle. They discourage learning the material in depth.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I see you wrote this awhile back, but it is good you are taking a proactive approach to your daughter's education. I have always thought standardized testing really did not measure much anyway. When I was going through school we took tests, but there was not all this pressure to learn the material according to the test. I have been sad to see the push for standardized testing over creativity.