Fourth grade is a big deal for many kids. Now among the oldest students in the school, they’re expected to learn at a more advanced level. Personal interests and friendships start to form and expand this year too.
Here’s what to know when your kid is starting fourth grade.
What your child will learn in fourth grade
Children often hear from older kids that the next grade level is hard. While it’s true fourth-grade students go far beyond what they learned as third graders, lessons are taught at an age-appropriate level and pace.
Reading, writing, and math
In fourth grade, most kids are no longer learning to read but rather reading to learn. They’ll use their skills to read chapter books, summarize what they’re reading, research new topics, and write stories.
Fourth-grade math typically involves times tables, fractions, word problems, and addition and subtraction with three- and four-digit numbers. Students will also learn how to read and create graphs and charts.
Additionally, fourth graders learn about geography, the solar system, technology, plants and animals, current events, historical figures, and cultures from around the world. They also work on their typing skills.
Developmental milestones for 9- and 10-year-olds
Fourth-grade schooling aligns with the developmental milestones for 9– and 10-year-olds. This includes:
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Increased attention span and ability to sit still for longer periods
- Taking responsibility for expectations at school and home
- Showing empathy and having a “big picture” perspective
- Expressing clear opinions and preferences
- Becoming more competitive with other kids
- Forming stronger friendships
- Becoming more independent from parents
Of course, all kids are different. Some meet every milestone by year-end, while others might still be working on them in fifth grade and beyond.
Schedules, challenges, and changes
Here’s what to expect from your child’s fourth-grade experience and how to prepare.
Friendships, social pressures, and emotions
Fourth grade is a big year for social and emotional development. With a clear sense of self, kids in this age group often befriend children with similar interests and backgrounds. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though it can lead to cliques and peer pressure to “fit in” at school.
As some fourth graders enter puberty, they may become more irritable or conscious of their body image. Since most kids won’t start puberty until middle school, experiencing the changes early on could make your fourth grade feel isolated.
Check in with your child regularly about how they’re feeling physically and emotionally and whether they need support from an adult, such as access to period products or help working out a friendship issue. If they’re being bullied, let the teacher or a school administrator know.
Homework for fourth graders
It varies among schools and teachers, but fourth graders usually have 20 to 40 minutes of nightly homework. This might include a daily reading assignment, working on a book report, creating a diorama, or practicing flashcards.
Extracurricular activities for fourth graders
Fourth grade is a good time for kids to explore different hobbies and interests. It could be school-held sports like soccer, basketball, or baseball, private music or dance lessons, or an after-school program that offers a mix of activities.
In any case, extracurriculars are a great way for 9- and 10-year-olds to cultivate new passions, make friends, work as a team, and reduce potential stress.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Misirliyan SS, Huynh AP. “Development Milestones.” StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. April 30, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557518/.
- “The Growing Child: School-Age (6 to 12 Years).” Stanford Children’s Health. Stanford Medicine. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=the-growing-child-school-age-6-to-12-years-90-P02278.
- “Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age).” National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). September 23, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/middle2.html.
- “Puberty.” Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. December 5, 2023 .https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22192-puberty.