Tuesday, 12 January 2016

So you have are a grade 4 kid?

Our A was in grade 4 last year. It is a year of change and almost a new start to your school career following on the foundation years. I have been asked by quite a few friends in the computer for tips etc on the transition. I have compiled them all for one of them and then thought I will share it here as surely more will benefit from it - seeing that tomorrow is back to school for most South African kids.

I am not claiming that this will make the year a success or even that this is what one should do. This is merely what we did and that worked for us. It may or may not work for you - take it as tips and work around it to fit you and your child. It may seem a lot of parent involvement but remember you are placing the foundation for the rest of their school years. Grade 5 they should be able to do a lot of this independently. We slowly moved from a lot of involvement to gradually less.

1. Keep a calendar - write all dates of tests, tasks etc down somewhere where the whole family can see them. Make sure that the family social calendar gives time and space when your grade 4 need it.

2. Try to get individual attention after school if you can - in whatever form - maybe your after care provides for it or there is a grandparent or whatever. We used and Au pair. One of the biggest issues with grade 4 is the bigger homework load and the orals, tests etc that comes with it. You simply can not do that amount of work after work when a child is tired

3. Teach them how to summarize and study - do a study course if possible. We had one presented at school that we paid for but it paid off that they knew how to draw mind maps etc.Buy the coloured pens and highlighters - make it fun. Think our funny rhymes etc.

4. Start with summarizing work every week as the year starts. Not only when the first test comes up. Sit with them and help them to do it for the first set of tests or exams. Just to get the hang of it. We did not do this as much as I wanted to last year - this year we will.

5. When a test series or exams come up - draw up a time table and plan out how much work must be done to go through everything a week or so before the dates start so that they can do details studying only before the event. This especially worked well for us.

6. No 5 help to teach them to manage their time - possibly the most important thing to do for grade 4. Because time becomes and issue if they have lots of other activities. So time management is crucial.

7. Do not immediately cut down on other activities - for her it was a huge goal to keep her marks up in order to be able to do all the things she wanted to. We made a deal that if marks slip she will have to make some choices - she choose to study hard enough not to have to choose between her activities. This may not work for everyone.

8. Projects and orals - when you get them give them immediate attention - even if just planning them. If a project is due only in a months time one easily slips up and let time go past. They are good and easy ways to improve marks. Most projects get done at school at our school but you can still do the prep work at home. Make a practice project for them to do that they can sort of copy at school if it has to be done there. If it is a do at home project there is in general an answer sheet at school to control the the child did the project (with help) and not just the parent. So half would be for the project and the other half of the marks for the answer sheet. So make sure they do it with you (if that is what the project called for) or under your guidance but now and understand everything.

9. If the school use a maths book that has work sheets in (ie we use Pracmaths) buy an extra copy of the book and with every test or exam mark one of each type for them to complete in pencil. This way you can easily see if there is a problem with a type of sum and then sort that problem out. This is a lot of work for mom (or the helper) but it does pay off very well. It is also grueling for the kids and take a lot of time - but it work so very well as maths basically can not be learned but has to be understood and practiced - which this method gives you 100%.

10. Get them reading - this is crucial - the faster you can read the faster you learn. Invest in books they will love and make time to read. Actually this one can start from grade 1.

11. Make sure that you and your child knows exactly what each test and exam covers. Our school sends out an exact itinerary that we need to sign. If you do not get that - insist on it. Not exactly knowing causes a lot of unnecessary stress.

12. Properly listening in class makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Teachers give tips and stress importance. Tell your kid that if they listen properly they have won half the race. Maybe test it in the first term or two - ask them each day and when tests and exams came up as to what was stressed by teachers

13. An the one that I think worked the best of all: Find a mom that had a grade 4 last year and beg copies of last years tests and exams from her. This is worth gold as one of the biggest issues is to learn how to read and answer a test, how questions are asked etc.

I hope this at least helps one person somewhere. Best of luck with grade 4


  1. Shame I can only imagine how tough it must be for a little one to get used to such a rigorous school routine. I'm sure this will help lots of mommies in that same position right now.

  2. Oh my word...that is a lot going on for a ten year old. I cannot remember what is was to be that age, but school has changed so much.

  3. I love this post!!! I will definitely be knocking on your door for some grade 4 tests and exams when we are there! :)

    1. Am keeping them all but we will need to get newer ones.

  4. Thank you so so much. We are starting grade 4 tomorrow! !

  5. Excellent advice! Fjord starts Gr 4 tomorrow and Acacia goes into grade R

  6. Wow, Grade 4 in South Africa is tough! It is only now in Year 9 that Bianca will start with proper tests and assignments and this will also be the first time she will go to different classes for different subjects. For primary school most homework would be some spelling (they do a spelling test every week), the occasional math sheet, mathletics tasks and the request that they read every single day and have to record what they read. They have some areas that are tested for determining whether they are on track and in the right levels, but that seems to be a combination of reading / writing exercises and observations in class.

    1. I really think it is maybe too soon and that our system push them too hard - but that's what we have so we need to make the most of it.

  7. Thanks!! I will have to keep this!

  8. great tips! And useful, since I'm a hands-off mom generally. :) I did like seeing time management on the list :) :)

    PS glad your kids got off this morning to a good start.

  9. Wow!! That is a lot going on in the life of a grade 4!!! And the tips will do one a lot of good even after grade 4


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