Fourth Grade - The World Connection: Making Choices
The fourth-grade student is entering an exciting time of life. Preadolescence is a new scene - a new way of seeing things. Suddenly your child is connecting with many meaningful experiences. School and studies inform her about the real world. Math can be used to solve shopping problems. Science reveals things she sees in the world about her. Reading involves stories with real plots. The skills practiced in the first few grades are finally usable. The student is ready to be an active contributor to her own life. This youth is ready to discover more. The primary grades are where your child has learned to read, fourth grade is where she will read to learn!
Making Choices About Their World
Offering choices will open new opportunities for your child. Parents should be cautioned, however, that children are not an extension of themselves and should not be expected to participate in areas where parents could not. A parent who had wanted to be a national baseball star may well have a child more interested in music than baseball. Children grow and change as adults do. A youngster who loved ball as a preschooler may get his fill of little league early in his school years and decide to pursue something else.
It is important to guide youth to explore a number of interests during these preadolescent years. This is the time a child can try many things to determine what he enjoys.
Since peer identity is becoming more important, this may be a great time to choose a club or group to join. Children this age have a need to belong to a group. Groups may develop on their own, both positive and negative. Look into the variety of clubs and activities available led by involved adults. This provides you the opportunity to present limits to work within and for your child to make choices. Looking to an adult other than the parent is an exciting experience for the fourth-grade student. These clubs are a positive option, and they channel energies in a positive direction.
Since every child needs to feel accepted and worthwhile, choose a group where even the smallest successes are applauded and failures are minimized. Since comparisons with other youths erode self-confidence, choose activities that help the youth build personal skill and that she can compare to her own past performances but not to others.
Joining groups or taking classes can be overdone. Parents need to help their child adjust to and balance her activities.
In all activities, parents will want to direct attention to the child's efforts and successes rather than failures. Use failures or disappointments only as an opportunity to teach or to change. Plan any activity, especially a new effort, so that chances for success are good. Divide the activity into small pieces with several small goals instead of one large one. If a child experiences failures and says, "I can't," remind him that he hasn't been able to perform that task up to now, but "can't" isn't forever. What he doesn't know now can be learned.
Reprinted with the permission of the Iowa State University Extension. © 2008 Iowa State University Extension.
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