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Download this informative guide to learn how to best support your fourth grader as they learn and master important fourth grade math concepts.
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A stated objective of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to standardize academic guidelines nationwide. In other words, what fourth graders learn in math in one state should be the same as what students of the same age are learning in another state. The curricula may vary between these two states, but the general concepts behind them are similar. This approach is intended to replace wildly differing guidelines among different states, thus eliminating (in theory) inconsistent test scores and other metrics that gauge student success.
An increased focus on math would seem to include a wider variety of topics and concepts being taught at every grade level, including fourth grade. However, CCSS actually calls for fewer topics at each grade level. The Common Core approach (which is clearly influenced by “Singapore Math”—an educational initiative that promotes mastery instead of memorization) goes against many state standards. Many states mandate a “mile-wide, inch-deep” curriculum in which children are taught so much in a relatively short time span, that they aren’t effectively becoming proficient in the concepts they truly need to understand to succeed at the next level. Hence, CCSS works to establish an incredibly thorough foundation not only for the math concepts in future grades, but also toward practical application for a lifetime.
For fourth grade, Common Core’s focus includes fluency in adding and subtracting numbers up to 1,000,000. Multiplication and division of whole numbers are emphasized, as well as problem solving, with a goal of eventually applying the concepts they learn at school to situations outside the classroom. Ultimately, the focus will enable children to develop rigor in real-life situations by developing a base of conceptual understanding and procedural fluency.
Our worksheets for fourth grade cater to three essential skills recommended by CCSS:
Fourth grade has always been an important level for math. Students take the multiplication and division concepts they picked up in third grade and run with them. The simple one-digit multiplication problems expand to two or three. Division becomes more complex as well—hello, remainders! Fractions take on new importance as well. CCSS places even more emphasis on these concepts, hoping to ensure that students master the skills necessary to tackle fifth grade math. Here are the three critical areas Common Core brings to fourth grade math:
As already mentioned, multiplication and division are the main attraction of fourth grade math. Among the concepts students will be expected to learn:
Fourth graders will be expected to understand fraction equivalence and various operations regarding fractions. Students will also apply their knowledge of unit fractions (that’s 1 for the numerator and an integer for the denominator—1/2 for example) into more complex operations, including multiplying a fraction by a whole number.
Though serious topics in geometry are a couple years away, but fourth graders will be taught how to analyze, compare, and draw two-dimensional shapes, with an additional emphasis on angles and symmetry.
From the three critical areas of focus discussed in the previous section, Common Core also further clarifies the skills fourth graders should know by the end of the school year. The five topics presented here, taken directly from CCSS itself, include some specifics on what kids will be taught at this age.
Some of parents’ trepidation with Common Core isn’t so much with the guidelines themselves, but with the testing now aligned with CCSS via local math curricula. Standardized testing was stressful for students and parents before; with the ongoing Common Core implementation, many families simply don’t know what to expect.
Fortunately, CCSS does not have to be that stressful, for you or your fourth grader. Here are some tips to help your children succeed with Common Core math:
If Common Core concerns you, intrigues you, or confuses you, don’t hesitate to learn as much about it—in your child’s classroom, at your kids’ school, and on a national level. Talk with teachers, principals, and other parents. Seek advice on how you can help your kids, and yourself, navigate CCSS math. If you want to take further action, become involved with PTA or other organizations and committees that deal with your school’s curriculum. The more you know, the more, ultimately, you can help your child.
A basic tenet of Common Core is to apply math principles to real-world situations. Why not start now? Give your child math problems when you are out and about— the grocery store, in traffic, the park, and so on. For example, if you are putting gasoline into your car, before you start dispensing the fuel, ask your fourth grader how much money will be required to fill up your 15-gallon tank. Without a pencil and notebook to compute the answer, he or she might have to fall back on alternative math processes—processes that Common Core encourages—for a solution.
You might look at a worksheet your child brings home and think, “This isn’t the math I’m used to.” Because Common Core emphasizes understanding the process of arriving at an answer, your child may be taught additional ways to fry a mathematical egg, so to speak. Instead of shunning these approaches, learn them for yourself. Once you comprehend these additional methods, you will be better able to help your child comprehend them as well
This suggestion can be read two ways. First, students will be encouraged to show how they arrived at an answer (and beginning with fourth grade math, some answers can be self-checked to see if they are correct), especially within Common Core. Second, ask your children to show you their homework, particularly the challenging stuff. Explaining how a problem is solved is a basic CCSS tenet, so if your kids can be confident in explaining their work to you, they will carry that confidence into the classroom when the teacher asks for those same explanations.
If your fourth grader is struggling with the new math standards, talk with his or her teacher first. You then might want to seek outside resources to help your child. Several online resources provide math help, including worksheets and sample tests that conform to Common Core standards. Tutoring might be an option you consider as well. Innovative iPad-based math programs have emerged that combine the personalized approach of a tutor with today’s technology. This revolutionary approach also may feature a curriculum based on Common Core, thus ensuring your child’s learning at home is aligned with what he or she is learning at school.
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