Well, I never did. I passed standard 2 though, back in the days and somehow I remember it being quite different than what grade 4 is. Grade 4 is the first year of the intermediary phase of school.
I can not remember that we had exams and tests and prepared quite as hard as our grade 4 seem to. I can remember projects - but simple thing like research and a poster about the Renaissance for instance - not designing and building structures.
I can not remember studying weekends for exams and tests, getting a roster for two weeks pre exam from the school to help you get through all the work. Do you?
We were warned that grade 4 is a BIG jump and I am thankful that our grade 4 seem to take it into her stride - maybe more than me. And that she takes getting good marks very seriously. The au pair and I help her plan, give tests , mark and correct, check summaries but mostly she carries on by herself. Even later into the evening than usual and with dedication that we are proud of. Last night found her doing maths revision in swimming costume at the poolside waiting for her swimming lesson. If you have a full afternoon of drama, ballet and then swimming you learn to plan your time and use those fill in minutes to the maximum. I am not quite sure I would have had the same dedication in standard 2.
But yes, we survived plenty of "do in class" projects where we had to do research at home, send her with information and decorations and the project gets completed in class. I love this because it helps them to work by themselves and gives a more equal footing for marks.
We also survived two projects that were structured with parent help. Survive is the wrong word because both of them had the whole family involved at times and was truly enjoyed by us all. Making things together binds us - a bonus I am not sure the teachers had in mind in the first place. What I am happy to say is that the physical project is half the marks and a project sheet they complete about the project (testing their own knowledge and involvement) counts the other half. So there is a fairness involved. Also it is not always the most perfect or beautiful projects that score the top marks, but those that showed creativity, understanding of the project and attention to details.
To give you an idea of what is waiting for those of you still in the foundation phase of school, may I present:
The Chicken coup: (A model to house 4 chickens - made mostly by dad and A - basic structure made at home but most of it build and completed in class according to the project sheet). It featured feeding tubes into bowls and a hatch to sweep the poop and use as fertilizer. Most of the materials were recycled as requested in the brief - the wood and hardboad were recovered from old bits in the garage the "wire" is plastic veggy bags.
The bridge: Here we had to build at home. We could use the following materials only: Paper, sosatie (kebab) sticks, popsickle sticks, drinking straws, paper, twine and glue. The bridge had to span 30cm and carry 1 kg. They had to use the principle of triangulation and weight transfer as taught in class (this btw I learned as a first year student in architecture!). We designed the concept of the bridge together on these principles which I did refine at the office - I guess most engineer and architect parents would do this. It carried 5 kg and earned all the bonus points it could for carrying extra weight and she then opted out to keep it and not test it until it breaks.
We are preparing for our first set of exams so I am not at all a knowledgeable person in this. But so far - my advice for grade 4:
Studying - help them with planning - it is the most important of it all. And get old tests to practice with.
For projects - keep a well stocked drawer with basic craft materials (it has saved us plenty of times with those do in class projects where they get a day or 2 notice) and buy a glue gun and cable ties.
Most of all - keep your sense of humour and let them work with some independence.