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You and Your Elementary School Child
Lead Your Child on the Path to Success
Before the school year begins:
- Visit the neighborhood school;
- Visit a classroom;
- Get a copy of the school's parent involvement plan;
- Volunteer, for example, to be a room parent, organize a winter coat drive, help out on test day or be a reading coach; and
- Ask the principal for the school report card.
If the school your child would normally be assigned to is not meeting the state's academic goals:
- Your child may qualify to transfer to another public school, including a public charter school;
- Your child may be able to receive free tutoring and other supportive services; and/or
- You can contact your school district office to find out more about these opportunities.
Partner With Teachers and Counselors
Know your child's teachers and counselors. Attend school "open houses" or parent nights to meet your child's teachers, and request parent-teacher conferences when needed.
To communicate with teachers:
- Find out the best time to contact them by telephone;
- Ask for the teacher's e-mail address; and
- Find out about Web sites where teachers may list class notes and homework assignments.
Parent-teacher conferences are important:
- Be prepared to listen, talk and take notes;
- Write out your questions before you meet with the teacher;
- Ask for specific information about your child's work and progress;
- Review what the teacher has told you and follow up by talking with your child; and
- Check back with the teacher regularly to see how things are going as the year progresses.
Know that counselors:
- Can help if there are problems at home, such as divorce or illness, which could affect your child's schoolwork;
- Have information about achievement tests and can explain what the results mean; and
- Can tell you what tutoring services are available.
Make Sure Your Child Continues to Read
- Set a special time each day for reading aloud together;
- Encourage your child to read to you;
- Let your child see you enjoying reading;
- Use audio books that you and your child can listen to together (children can also listen to audio books while following along with the written words in a book);
- Play communication and educational board games with your child which involve words, such as those based on crossword puzzles and charades;
- Practice day-to-day reading and writing such as following a recipe or writing a note; and
- Continue to check with the teacher and the pediatrician about your child's language development.
Watch for School Resources
The school sees you as a partner in the learning process and will provide such resources as:
- Interactive homework that involves parents with children's learning, such as writing assignments about what it was like when you were a child;
- Workshops on topics that parents suggest like building children's vocabulary, developing positive discipline strategies and supporting children through a crisis;
- Regular calls or e-mails from teachers, not just when there are problems but also when children are doing well in class;
- Learning packets in reading, science and math, as well as training in how to use them; and
- The School-Family Compact, required for all schools and programs receiving Title I, Part A, funds, encouraging communication between the school and parents.
Tips for Parents of Kindergarteners
Visit the school and learn as much as you can about:
- How to enroll your child in kindergarten;
- What forms must be completed;
- What immunization and dental records are required;*
- What the kindergarten program includes;
- When the school is closed for holidays and administrative activities;
- What the bus schedule is;
- What meals and food are available;
- What after-school care is available;
- What volunteer opportunities there are for parents; and
- What outside activities your child can participate in.
*Note: Keep a copy of immunization and dental records, because you may need them later for after-school programs, summer camps, and sports participation, for example.
Academic Performance at the Fourth-Grade Level
Curriculum, instruction, homework and exposure to reading, mathematics and science in everyday life have a great impact on your child's performance. The goal of No Child Left Behind is for all students to be performing at the "proficient" level by 2014. What is meant by "proficient?" Although specific curriculum is set by each state, and varies from state to state, the following achievement levels can give you an idea of what to expect your child to know and be able to do in reading,1 mathematics2 and science3 when your child is in the fourth grade. These achievement levels are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) frameworks in reading, math and science at the "proficient" level.
1 http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/reading/achieveall.asp (2005)
2 http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/mathematics/achieveall.asp (2006)
3 http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/science/achieveall.asp (2002)
When reading, a fourth-grade student is expected to:
- Understand the factual information and inferred meaning of what is read;
- Be able to make connections and draw conclusions from what is read; and
- Connect what is read with the child's own experiences.
When doing math problems, a fourth-grader is expected to:
- Understand the basic concepts and procedures in five content areas: number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability, and algebra;
- Estimate, compute and determine whether results are reasonable using whole numbers;
- Understand fractions and decimals;
- Solve real-world problems in the five content areas above;
- Use four-function calculators, rulers and geometric shapes appropriately;
- Use problem-solving strategies; and Write solutions that are organized with supporting information and explanations of how they were achieved.
Fourth-graders are expected to:
- Understand the earth's physical properties, structure and function;
- Begin to understand classification, simple relationships and energy;
- Solve familiar problems, as well as show a beginning awareness of issues associated with technology;
- Explain day and night when given a diagram;
- Recognize major features of the earth's surface and the impact of natural forces;
- Recognize water in its various forms in the water cycle and suggest ways to conserve it;
- Recognize that various materials possess different properties that make them useful;
- Explain how structure and function help living things survive;
- Have a beginning awareness of the benefits and challenges of technology;
- Recognize some effects of humans on the environment;
- Make straightforward predictions and justify them; and
- Read simple graphs and diagrams and be able to make limited conclusions based on data.