What To Expect for Your Kid's Next School Year | Parenting Monday
Summertime is prime time for both you and your child to prepare for the coming school year and check out what you can expect when it comes to a new grade level. Parenting.com has you covered with detailed insights and guides for every grade. Find excerpts for grades K-6 below and check out the entire original post by Jeremy Schlosberg over on Parenting.com!
Once upon a time, kindergarten was all about teaching social readiness, learning how to line up, sit quietly in a circle, and put things back. In recent decades, "readiness skills" in language, reading, writing, and math have been emphasized. Experts generally agree, however, that much of the "learning" that happens in kindergarten should be nonacademic. Make-believe and fantasy are a big part of the kindergartner's approach to the world. Enjoy it.
Elementary school begins in first grade. But in spirit, children begin first grade as kindergartners. Much happens over the course of the year to transform little children into young boys and girls. First-graders do not seem as wild as kindergartners -- after all, they are more developed physically, neurologically, and psychologically. They are gaining more control over their bodies, both at the fine motor level (first-grade art often shows a big representational leap over kindergarten art) and at the large muscle level (first grade is when children often begin to show interest in specific sports). Your child has a better sense of self than she did a year ago, and less of a need to live in the here and now. And she is ready and willing to use her mind. This is what first grade is all about. It is a fun and fulfilling year.
In second grade, a child becomes a student. By now, children should have a strong grip on all the rudimentary skills of learning, from reading and writing to arithmetic. With evident pride in what they know, second-graders are among the most eager learners to be found. They tend to be attached to the literal and concrete, and begin to pay attention to the world around them and expect to have some input and control. But they are still marvelously open to new experiences, and they have an appetite for stories, poetry, music, and other arts-oriented activities.
School gets more serious in third grade. And so do the children. They begin to become aware of themselves in a wider context than children in a family. Third-graders can now draw on their own mental resources (memories, problem-solving skills, personal experience) when learning something new. In third grade, school becomes not just a place of learning, but also a place of socializing; children look forward to seeing their friends there day after day after day.
In fourth grade, for perhaps the first time, school can get tough. Gone is the gentle focus of younger-grade teachers on basic skills and social development. Now, there are hard subjects to grapple with, more schoolwork and homework to organize, and real tests to study for -- as the saying goes, in fourth grade, children stop learning to read and start reading to learn. What is more, fourth-graders must navigate an increasingly complex social environment, with new sensitivity to who the "smart" ones or "popular" ones are. Fourth-graders are not as ready to distance themselves from their parents as children another year or two down the road. For some it is the last innocent year.
In many schools, the fifth-graders are the oldest, and they love it. While they still tend to have a natural love of learning, they are also moving toward preadolescence. Some are more willing than ever before to test their limits, question authority, and be distracted by nonacademic activities. That said, many fifth-graders are still happy children, keen on acquiring knowledge and learning facts. This is a year, too, in which technical proficiency in special areas, such as music, may blossom. While fifth grade is a lot like fourth grade in the academic ground it covers, fifth-graders are expected to act with an ever-increasing amount of independence and responsibility.
In the old days -- -say, when you were in grade school -- -sixth grade was part of elementary school. Nowadays, that's less common. Sixth is often the first grade in middle school; there are even some schools that are entirely sixth grade. But wherever sixth grade happens, the children are the same age, going through that same preteen confusion-laced excitement. Sixth-graders have been trained to think for themselves and they're more than prepared to do that now, with much vigor. They like to complain a lot, too, so brace yourself. And if you haven't yet done this too well, take a crash course in learning how to let go: Sixth-graders demand a lot of independence, even as they are not always emotionally ready for it.