Parents - 4th To 5th Grade
This section refers to students who are between 9 and 11 or 12 years old.
At this point, students should be proficient in all arithmetic operations and be able to read the young adult category of books very comfortably.
Perhaps this is a good place to discuss interesting reading. Students now begin to be interested in different subjects. It is here that different categories of subject matter matter. There is a shift to "girl" books and "boy" books. There are some books that qualify for both but they are hard to find. Crafts and skills come to the forefront.
Sports, biography, adventure, historical fiction, science fiction, history, science, and mystery are all fields of interest. This is the point where your memory of the good books you enjoyed becomes very valuable. This is the time for students to graduate to well-written stories.
Some books come to mind: Pippi Longstocking, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time. Anything by Gary Paulsen or Avi. The Horrible Histories, The Horrible Sciences, The Usborne historical "newspapers", the Wizard of Oz books and of course the Harry Potter series.
There are two wonderful books that deal with hygiene for ages 9-11. For the girls: The Care and Keeping of You. For the boys: From Boys to Men by Michael Gurain. They give information on the coming physical changes without getting too far ahead of the story.
What Every 4th Grader Should Know. What Every 5th Grader Should Know. Both by E.D.Hirsch, they present the broad knowledge that every student should know. Personally, I gave these books to my children so that they would have a reference point to check on my grandchildren's academic progress.
In addition, I suggest that you, as parents, obtain copies of the 4th and 5th grade McGuffey Readers. These books were used for over 100 years to teach and expand reading skills. They also provide excellent benchmarks for student progress.
Middle School usually begins in the 4th or 5th grade. It is here that trouble begins because neither parents nor teachers realize the capabilities of the student. This basic lack of respect for the abilities of the students leads to the dumbing down of the curriculum so prevalent today.
Here it is time to discuss a very important American principle - all men are created equal. This refers to us all as human beings only. It does not refer to our individual talents and abilities. For the last 30 years, educational systems have been playing to the lowest common denominator. They have expected less and less of students thereby causing intense boredom to set in. Then teachers and parents complain that the students are fidgety. That they have short attention spans. Then they prescribe pills for ADD. The children don't need pills. They need challenging work to do.
The ages between 10 and 15 are critical to future achievement. If you turn students off at this age, you ruin any chance of great achievements in high school. You dump an insurmountable burden on the high school teachers to reawaken the student. So, for heaven's sake, keep the level of challenge up.
It isn't just up to the teacher. It is up to the parents to provide the breadth and depth of experiences that will enhance what is going on in school.
A word about working parents. And I speak from experience. Just because you work at a job outside the home does not give you license or excuse to neglect the job you took on when you had children. Remember, they are not children forever. But these are the years they need you most - from 10 to 18. Not so much in the physical sense but in their mental and emotional development. So be there!
We would be delighted to hear from you with suggestions, questions or comments. Our e-mail address is: BooksInk@aol.com. We look forward to your correspondence.