Welcome Fourth Grade Parents!
You will be truly amazed at the changes in your child over this next year. He or she will become a more independent young person and, yes, they will begin to sound like fifth graders by next May! We look forward to traveling with all of you on your children’s journey through fourth grade as we work to help them develop the personal, academic, social - emotional skills they will need the rest of their lives.
Our collective teaching experience totals well over 100 years, and we would like to share our observations on successful students. The most successful students are those who can “read” the people and events around them and respond appropriately. This ability to watch and listen and to adapt to different situations is even more essential than innate intelligence. Please help your child develop these skills by exposing him or her to a variety of cultural events and discussing appropriate behavior. Keep it simple - compare the behavior accepted at McDonalds with that appropriate at a more formal restaurant. Discuss how and why people should behave differently at a movie theater than at a ball game.
Make your child a full, contributing member of your family - assign chores or other responsibilities and let him or her deal with the natural consequences of doing the job well or of not doing it at all. Watch your children in social situations and help them become aware of ways they can improve relationships and interactions with both peers and adults. Fourth graders participate in many special events and field trips and we expect the children to treat speakers, docents, their classmates, and parent helpers with respect.
Fourth grade teachers will try to reinforce appropriate skills, good citizenship, and caring for others throughout the year. Students will also be encouraged to participate in C.L.A.S.S. Service Opportunities and complete at least eight community service hours during the year. Please let us know if you have suggestions for service opportunities.
All grades at Highland Park will continue implementation of a social-emotional learning component from Second Step. From Second Step's website description: "The Second Step program can take students from preschool all the way through middle school. Each grade level features developmentally appropriate ways to teach core social-emotional skills such as empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. And now we've added self-regulation, executive function skills, and Skills for Learning in early learning and K-5 to give kids that extra boost" (http://www.cfchildren.org/second-step.aspx).
Highland Park is also continuing The Kennedy Center's Any Given Child initiative to ensure every child has access to an arts rich education. Through arts partners and professional development in Drama Based Instruction and Visual Arts, teachers will engage students using a wide variety of creative arts strategies. For more information, watch "What is the Value of Arts in our Classrooms" (http://vimeo.com/52167982).
A personal goal for us is to keep the fourth graders acting and feeling like kids. This is the last year they will truly belong only to their families - we encourage you to enjoy the time and make it last as long as possible.
Remember that the original goal of public education was to develop active, knowledgeable, and contributing members of society. Our children will benefit most and be happiest if we all work together toward this goal.